What are Time Sensitive notifications in iOS – how to use them

iPhone users, here's everything you need to know about Time Sensitive notifications.

What are Time Sensitive notifications in iOS. Image shows the text "What are Time Sensitive notifications in iOS" next to a white smart phone with a pink bell notification, on a purple blue gradient background.

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If you’ve found yourself wondering what Time Sensitive notifications in iOS are and how to use them, then look no further.

iPhones allow certain apps to deliver alerts called Time Sensitive notifications that can bypass muted settings and always reach you promptly. Essentially, these are notifications that are deemed as higher priority and require immediate attention from users, and are allowed to break through at the times when you might have other notifications turned off. This article will provide an in-depth guide on what Time Sensitive notifications are and how to configure them on your device.

What Are Time Sensitive notifications in iOS?

Time sensitive notifications are a special category of alerts designed to provide users with timely, relevant information from apps. They are meant to be used judiciously by apps where getting real-time updates is important.

For example, a sports app could send a time sensitive notification about a team scoring to keep you updated during a game. Ridesharing apps may also use them to alert you that your driver has arrived. Breaking news and weather apps also rely on them for critical alerts.

By default, time sensitive notifications will bypass Do Not Disturb and Focus modes to light up your lock screen and make a sound when received. This ensures you don’t miss crucial updates even if your phone is muted.

How Time Sensitive notifications display on iPhone

When you receive a time sensitive notification from an allowed app, it will display prominently on your iPhone’s lock screen accompanied by a sound and vibration.

This alerts you immediately compared to regular notifications that may just show up in the notification window. It also wakes your screen so the notification is obvious and you don’t miss it.

If you have a face ID or touch ID setup, time sensitive notifications will initially show basic details but hide the full content until you authenticate with face/touch ID or enter your passcode.

Customizing Time Sensitive notifications in iOS

You have some control over how time sensitive notifications work on your device. To manage them, you can do any of the following:

  • Toggle them on or off for specific apps in Settings > Notifications.
  • Opt to always show the full content of alerts from the lock screen.
  • Mute or turn off the vibration if you find it too disruptive.
  • Disable Show Previews for tighter security and privacy if desired.

Just keep in mind that completely disabling time sensitive notifications for an app will prevent you from getting potentially urgent updates from it. Be selective in blocking apps for time sensitive notifications. For everything iPhone notification related, check out Apple’s iPhone user guide.

How developers enable Time Sensitive notifications

For an app to send time sensitive notifications, developers specifically designate certain notifications within their app code as time sensitive through Apple’s Push API.

They are only meant to be used for the most important, timely alerts relevant to the user at that moment. Apple reviews proper use of time sensitive notifications during the app review process.

Why Time Sensitive notifications are important

While they may seem intrusive at first, time sensitive notifications can help in several ways as seen below.

Alert Users on Need-to-Know Information

The core purpose of time sensitive notifications is to provide users with timely, relevant alerts that they need to know about immediately. They allow critical updates to bypass muting so users are notified even if their iPhones are silenced. This ensures users are made aware of breaking news, emergency weather conditions, important event reminders, and other situations unfolding in real time that may impact them. Simply put, time sensitive notifications bring key information to the forefront when users need it most.

Bypass distraction-blocking settings

iPhones allow users to activate Do Not Disturb and Focus modes to mute notifications temporarily. However, with these settings enabled, users may miss out on urgent alerts. Time sensitive notifications override these distraction-blocking settings so users don’t miss anything vital just because their phones are muted. This provides flexibility to stay distraction-free while also staying informed about the most timely, need-to-know updates.

Overall, time sensitive notifications deliver relevance and urgency. When used properly, they can provide timely and relevant information to the user.


Time sensitive iPhone notifications ensure you never miss something truly urgent by prominently displaying timely alerts. Know how to customize them to meet your needs for security and timely information. When used properly, they make apps even more powerful and useful.

If you use an iPhone and do not want to miss out on any important information, the time sensitive notifications feature on your device is definitely the way to go. If you want to optimize your iPhone experience, then you’re also in the right place. Why not learn how to customize your iPhone with widgets, or try something new and download the iOS 17 Beta.

Marla writes across a wide range of topics across PC Guide, including AI, PC hardware, and news on the latest tech releases. She's a passionate writer that's interested in the future of technology.