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Inside OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion GM: Notification Center gets more social, configurable

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
The new Notification Center service of OS X Mountain Lion, a feature borrowed from iOS, goes beyond its mobile sibling to offer a direct way to send tweets from the desktop. It does not however have iOS 5's live ticker updates for widgets such as Weather and Stocks, something OS X presents in Dashboard instead.

Notification Center is a new Mac feature based upon a similar service added to iOS 5 last year. The service, which creates a central repository for viewing and managing notifications from apps, the system itself and from network services, mirrored similar features previously introduced in Palm's WebOS and Google's Android on mobile devices, and bears some interface similarities to the Growl desktop notification service.

However, Apple's Notification Center is primarily tied to the company's cloud-based Push Notification Service, which enables app developers and Internet services such as Twitter, Skype, Instagram, Facebook or iCloud to relay alerts and pending messages to users across all of their devices. Other notification systems have largely centered on being more of a unified event log of various types of local system and application messages.

Push into the trillions

Apple began building its Push Notifications Service for iPhone OS 2.0 in 2008, originally as a way to allow inactive apps to receive data updates, but it returned to the drawing board for a redesign after realizing that the service would eventually handle far more traffic than initially anticipated.

After the summer 2009 release of iOS 3.0 with push notification support, Apple reported more than 2 billion push notifications had been sent to iOS apps by the beginning of November.

In 2010, Apple brought its push notifications to the Mac to power FaceTime. Early last year, for OS X Lion, "the whole range of callbacks for iOS push notifications" were added to NSApplicationDelegate, paving the way for the release of the new Messages app for Macs earlier this year.

This summer at WWDC, Apple's iOS head Scott Forstall noted that 1.5 trillion push messages have now been sent through its servers, and 7 billion new alerts are processed each day. Push notifications have now become a critical service for both iOS and OS X as message alerts and data feeds grow ever larger and more sophisticated, making a Notifications Center to manage these alerts an important feature for both platforms.

Pay attention to the events behind the curtain

Apple has also designed the Notification Center on both iOS and OS X Mountain Lion to be easy to read and unobtrusive. On iOS, the feature is pulled down as an overlay sheet, but in Mountain Lion, the feature takes over the top right corner formerly occupied by Spotlight search (which is now simply bumped over to the left one space.

When the Notification Center icon is clicked, it scoots the active desktop over to the left to reveal a nonstandard window type that appears to live underneath the desktop (below).



This region can be captured as a screen shot like any other window, but the resulting image appears to have a title bar (below, blank bottom half cropped off) similar to a Photoshop-style palette. There's currently no way to rip the Notification Center window free and position it on the desktop, however.



The Notification Center icon was originally a red bulb reminiscent of HAL in "2001: A Space Odyssey" in earlier developer builds of OS X, but recently changed to represent an abstract list of notifications. The GM build of Mountain Lion has not yet updated the icon it uses for Notification in System Preferences, which still appears as the original choice the company used for Notification Center in the menu bar.



The display area of Notification Center has a dark grey linen appearance similar to iOS, but does not include any regions for weather or stocks widgets. On OS X, those types of information are supposed to reside in Dashboard, which now exists as a Space (virtual desktop) that slides in from the left side when invoked. Instead, OS X's Notification Center just lists active and recent events, including messages and alerts from the App Store, Game Center, and Apple's iCloud Calendar and Reminder services.



In the latest GM release of Mountain Lion, issued yesterday, Apple has filled out Notification Center with FaceTime, Mail and Messages, as well as adding Safari and support for Twitter and other social network services. Safari has implemented a new method for web developers to send alerts from web pages directly to the Notification Center, elevating web apps on the Mac to a more equal footing with native desktop apps.



From iOS to Mountain Lion: Alerts and Banners



The type of alerts each service presents can be configured by the user. By default, most services (including FaceTime, GameCenter, Mail, Messages and Twitter) are set to present Banners, which briefly appear in the top right corner under the system clock and then disappear after a moment.



Calendar events and Reminders are given Alert style notifications, which appear as hovering dialog boxes until the user clicks on them to dismiss the alert. Individual Notification Center services can also be set to present no alerts, and options exist to badge the alert with an app icon and to optionally play a sound when a notification is received.



Notification Center can also be configured to display only the most recent alert for an app or service, or to continue to show 5, 10 or 20 of the last notifications for each item in its listings.

Think it, click it, see it, Tweet it

Another new feature of Notification Center present in the Mountain Lion GM build is the ability to initiate a tweet right from the desktop. Open Notification Center and the "click to Tweet" button (below top) presents an iOS style tweet entry field with a 140 character counter, an option to add your location, and a send button (below bottom).




This special Twitter integration in Notification Center can be turned off from System Preferences (below top), independently from Twitter notification alerts (below bottom).




In addition to support for sending tweets and listing alerts from Twitter, Notification Center also includes a listing for SocialPushAgent (visible above), a background service connected to the new Social framework in OS X Mountain Lion. The Social framework allows local apps to login to remote social networks on your behalf (if you have configured and allowed this), send updates and obtain new news feed items, messages, or other information that the app can then present or integrate in various ways. It's likely Apple will assign this a more friendly name in the final release.

To quickly access all these configurations options, there's a mini icon presented at the bottom of the Notification Center region that opens the Notifications pane within System Preferences. It depicts a simplified version of the "three gear" icon that Apple has used for System Preferences since OS X began borrowing the iOS logo for Settings introduced on the original iPhone.





Social network security and configurability

Apple has been widely perceived to have either avoided, ignored or failed to build social networks on its own, with its ill-fated Ping now in the process of being replaced with Facebook support within iTunes. By connecting links to social network partner services in Notification Center and elsewhere in OS X and iOS, Apple now appears interested in leveraging the popularity of social network services without having to build out its own.

At the same time, Apple appears very concerned about keeping social network connections under tight supervision and control by the local user, something the company has similarly done with local apps connected to its App Store and with local data repositories such as Contacts, which the company now forces app developers to request permission from the local user before accessing. Apple has also erected security barriers around data stored to a user's iCloud account.

Over the past 30 years of personal computing, third party software has largely had no constraints on what local user data it could access, allowing unscrupulous developers to create malicious (or just plain inappropriately curious) software that can harvest user data, spy on sensitive files or photos, forward personal data to outside servers, display adware, delete or modify user or system data, take over control of local system to steal processor resources, send out spam, orchestrate network attacks on other systems, or be used in other annoying or sometimes even criminal ways.

While the web responded to outbreaks of security issues with attempts to protect users through limitations on what Java, Flash or raw HTML and JavaScript could do, desktop and mobile operating systems have overall made slower progress, allowing the viruses and malware of the 90s to continue to rage.

Apple's iOS originally received a lot of criticism for taking a new, precautionary path, with complaints that its "walled garden" would limit openness and freedom. However, the payoff for Apple taking real steps to protect its users has been dramatic. So successful, in fact, that Apple is now working to bring many of these security features to OS X, from the App Store to iCloud, and expanding its security controls to now limit access to other forms of local data, from Location Services to Contacts to configured social networks, as is depicted in the Privacy section within Mountain Lion's System Preferences.



Critics have now changed their tune to complain that Apple isn't locking down various types of user data from third party apps quickly enough.

By creating an infrastructure of security checkpoints, authorizations and user-specified preferences, OS X Mountain Lion is exerting new levels of control over what third party software can do outside of the local user's knowledge and intentions. Notification Center acts as a centralized repository for displaying what apps want to communicate, but users will now have nuanced controls over what information is actually presented and how.
post #2 of 44
In the first screenshot of notification center the time is 8.42 AM, in the other ones it's 9.41 AM. On my GM install it's 9.41 AM (my local time is 2.10 PM though, so I guess it's static in the prefs). This means they must have changed it in the GM, what a trivial thing to change :P
post #3 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Where is AI getting these images from? Why is the "Notification Center" label beside the icon?
 

 

It explains in the article:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

This region can be captured as a screen shot like any other window, but the resulting image appears to have a title bar (below, blank bottom half cropped off) similar to a Photoshop-style palette. There's currently no way to rip the Notification Center window free and position it on the desktop, however.

censored

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post #4 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

It explains in the article:

Yeah, I missed that point then I caught it on another reading. Thanks for pointing it out all the same.
post #5 of 44

The background of the Notifications on iOS has always made me think of titanium-zinc alloy not grey linen.  Check this New Order album cover.  Brotherhood

 

 

EDIT: Changed it to a proper link b/c it refused to read the closing parentheses.
 


Edited by SSquirrel - 7/11/12 at 2:12pm
post #6 of 44

Call me an hermit, but … i do not get this "gets more social" thing.

post #7 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by R3negade View Post

In the first screenshot of notification center the time is 8.42 AM, in the other ones it's 9.41 AM. On my GM install it's 9.41 AM (my local time is 2.10 PM though, so I guess it's static in the prefs). This means they must have changed it in the GM, what a trivial thing to change :P

I know- they're funny.

 

I also noticed the "Display" icon is different in system preferences (it is now black around like the iMac is), and "Desktop & Screensaver" is a hair lighter grey up top.

 

Always keeps us on our toes...

 

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ochyming View Post

Call me an hermit, but … i do not get this "gets more social" thing.

 

 

Hermit.

 

I agree- I won't use it nor do I understand it.  I've always had the philosophy that it hurts actual relationships by giving the facade that you actually have a relationship.  Although instead of genuine conversation and opening up, it is replaced by 5-10x more "friends" that simply like, make a little comment, and post pictures that you, in turn, can like.

 

My wife and the youngins will like it- I'm 28 (29 in a week) and couldn't care less.

2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, (2) iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, (2) iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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post #8 of 44

Can you turn it ALL off -  no icon in the menu bar even?

post #9 of 44
One bug and two things I like about Notification Center int he GM seed.

Bug: disabling Twitter and then subsequently reenabling it puts the Twitter UI down below the other UI's. This is odd. It should stay up top.

Now on to the two things I likes:
1. Clicking and holding the Notification Center button near spotlight allows a sort of "quick-look" at Notification Center.
2. Clicking away out of Notification Center also closes it. This is genius in typical Apple-fashion: simply, useful and easily-discoverable.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #10 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by elroth View Post

Can you turn it ALL off -  no icon in the menu bar even?

No.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #11 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

One bug and two things I like about Notification Center int he GM seed.
Bug: disabling Twitter and then subsequently reenabling it puts the Twitter UI down below the other UI's. This is odd. It should stay up top.
Now on to the two things I likes:
1. Clicking and holding the Notification Center button near spotlight allows a sort of "quick-look" at Notification Center.
2. Clicking away out of Notification Center also closes it. This is genius in typical Apple-fashion: simply, useful and easily-discoverable.

I hate that when you click on a new tweet it doesn't launch your Twitter app but Safari and then loads the Twitter site.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #12 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by elroth View Post

Can you turn it ALL off -  no icon in the menu bar even?

No
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #13 of 44

Does AI have some masochistic fetish where they must fill pages of inane articles on all the new features of the new OS so that people have ZERO excitement for it when it arrives?
 

post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ochyming View Post

Call me an hermit, but … i do not get this "gets more social" thing.
You're not a hermit, the title was tabloid-esque for no deserving reason.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #15 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Does AI have some masochistic fetish where they must fill pages of inane articles on all the new features of the new OS so that people have ZERO excitement for it when it arrives?

Do people who don't want the "surprise" spoiled have some masochistic fetish where they must read the articles of a rumor site designed to post stuff about prerelease software and hardware?

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #16 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Does AI have some masochistic fetish where they must fill pages of inane articles on all the new features of the new OS so that people have ZERO excitement for it when it arrives?
 

This is what you get when you come here. It's exciting to read about all the new features but it inevitably leads to disappointment on launch day. That is why everybody here are so underwhelmed. They already unwrapped their pressies and they / we are already bored. There's a lot to be said for consciously staying out of the loop and only hitting AI and all the other tech sites AFTER launches.

post #17 of 44

My response to all the new "features" in ML?  Yawn.

 

My only hope (and it may be a wild one, I'll admit) is that ML gets some streamlining/fixes under the hood the same way Leopard to Snow Leopard did.  There was a MAJOR improvement in overall performance and stability in that move and I really hope such is the case with L to ML.

 

Performance is the only thing I care about with this "upgrade".  This social integration is pabulum to me which I will leave for the mentally hyperactive.

post #18 of 44

What happened to the Facebook integration?  Did that just vanish into thin air?  Because we saw a button for that at WWDC, and now there isn't so much as a hint to tell you it's there. Maybe they're saving it for iOS 6?  Looks like Macs will be behind their iOS breathen once again...

post #19 of 44

Is there any way to change the color of the banner notifications? Right now, they just blend in with the UI of my apps (color wise) and makes them harder to pick out right away.

post #20 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


No.

 

F%ck.

I currentnly have only Spotlight icon and Airfoil. (no clock etc.). 

I do not want to have another icon.

F%^&

post #21 of 44

Sure, don't install the GM. 

post #22 of 44
Facebook can be enabled too, you just need to install the Facebook dev preview

283

98

475
post #23 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashley View Post

Facebook can be enabled too, you just need to install the Facebook dev preview
Facebook ~ snigger
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #24 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doorman. View Post

F%ck.
I currentnly have only Spotlight icon and Airfoil. (no clock etc.). 
I do not want to have another icon.
F%^&

Yeah it's tough going out there, what with the lack of food in Ethiopia, but we have problems too.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Facebook ~ snigger

Don't be sracist!

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #26 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by iluomo View Post

My response to all the new "features" in ML?  Yawn.
I was excited about it - until I installed it. Now I'm yawning right along with you. I believe it's time Apple bit the bullet and made OS X releases free; like iOS.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Don't be sracist!

Thought that was dictionarial.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #28 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I hate that when you click on a new tweet it doesn't launch your Twitter app but Safari and then loads the Twitter site.

That's annoying.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #29 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashley View Post

Facebook can be enabled too, you just need to install the Facebook dev preview
 

 

Yes but Apple has said that the Facebook integration will not be included in the launch, but will come this fall.  So sounds like Facebook integration in OS X will be going live along w/iOS 6.

post #30 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by SSquirrel View Post

The background of the Notifications on iOS has always made me think of titanium-zinc alloy not grey linen.  Check this New Order album cover.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brotherhood_(New_Order_album)

Wow — what a fantastic reference. (Might want to correct your link, though, by adding the close parenthesis!) I wish Notifications really did use that texture.

 

Have you see the Rhino reissues of the New Order LPs from a year or two ago? Their reproduction of the Brotherhood cover image was truly appalling. I'm guarding my old copy of FACT 150 with my life!

post #31 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silencio View Post

Wow — what a fantastic reference. (Might want to correct your link, though, by adding the close parenthesis!) I wish Notifications really did use that texture.

 

Have you see the Rhino reissues of the New Order LPs from a year or two ago? Their reproduction of the Brotherhood cover image was truly appalling. I'm guarding my old copy of FACT 150 with my life!

 

No store here in Louisville has them that I have seen.  We lost Ear X-tacy earlier this year and there are no other real indie music stores that eal in anything besides used.  All we have left is Best Buy and FYE and whatever.  I grabbed all of the reissue mp3s tho and I've been more than a bit obsessed w/the first 3 New Order albums for the last month.  Brotherhood has some great stuff on it, but that very first period of New Order is my absolute favorite.


Edited by SSquirrel - 7/11/12 at 2:15pm
post #32 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


Yeah it's tough going out there, what with the lack of food in Ethiopia, but we have problems too.

What a fatuous response. Guess Apple should just donate their profits to poor African nations rather than working on any new products?

 

My personal gripe is that I rather like having the spotlight icon to the far right. Don't really think this social 'feature' should take priority and push everything else to the left. Would rather have it to the left of the time machine icon.

 

And to be honest, all I'm hoping for is to hear from my work colleagues that ML works better than L...as I'm still refusing to upgrade from SL.

 

-Nano.

post #33 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by NanoAkron View Post

What a fatuous response. Guess Apple should just donate their profits to poor African nations rather than working on any new products?

 

My personal gripe is that I rather like having the spotlight icon to the far right. Don't really think this social 'feature' should take priority and push everything else to the left. Would rather have it to the left of the time machine icon.

 

And to be honest, all I'm hoping for is to hear from my work colleagues that ML works better than L...as I'm still refusing to upgrade from SL.

 

-Nano.

Is this what its come down to?  Complaining about a 1x1mm area in a corner of a screen?  Jeez....

2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, (2) iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

Reply

2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, (2) iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

Reply
post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

This is what you get when you come here. It's exciting to read about all the new features but it inevitably leads to disappointment on launch day. That is why everybody here are so underwhelmed. They already unwrapped their pressies and they / we are already bored. There's a lot to be said for consciously staying out of the loop and only hitting AI and all the other tech sites AFTER launches.

I feel totally the opposite, especially concerning the things Apple is doing in Lion and ML. I'm glad to hear these things now, so I know I have no interest in upgrading. The disappointment comes in thinking Apple is actually still improving its OS, and then being hit in the face with absurd changes and less flexibility, so workflows become harder and more frustrating for actual work.

post #35 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

Is this what its come down to?  Complaining about a 1x1mm area in a corner of a screen?  Jeez....

 

Apple used to be about artistic expression, which includes setting up everything on your screen exactly how you want it, both for usability and for the look. Apple's become the anti-artists now, telling you what has to be there and where, making programs (especially itunes 10 list album view) so ugly its a crime. They forced Ping on everyone (they later "graciously" allowed us to hide it), then they get rid of Ping and force Notifications on us. To me it's like Windows crapware - something I don't want. I don't want to see it constantly on my screen, and I don't want any possiblilty of it communicating with any server outside my computer.

 

I don't want any Twitter or Facebook or any other "social" service on my computer. I don't want to ever see their logos on my computer. Let people use them all they want, but give us the option to get rid of all of it.

post #36 of 44
A nice post on Mountain Lion GM and what's coming for people later in the month from Apple. One element that was not mentioned was Facebook integration on Social Sharing and that it is not being released until the Fall it is available to test out with the GM for the Developer Network. If you have not seen it I did a screencast show notifications and Social Sharing including Facebook. In can be seen here.
post #37 of 44
Welcome! If you wish, for simplicity, you can embed video directly into your post instead of linking it.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #38 of 44
Out of curiosity how do you get websites to send you notifications? I'd like to use that feature.
post #39 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maecvs View Post

Out of curiosity how do you get websites to send you notifications? I'd like to use that feature.

Notification Center is for apps your local apps.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #40 of 44
Originally Posted by Maecvs View Post
Out of curiosity how do you get websites to send you notifications? I'd like to use that feature.

 

The website has to support it (I imagine zero do). Then you accept them in a standard settings page on the site itself. Confirm in your OS directly, and they should work.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
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