What Are They?
In IOS eight, Apple introduced a new feature called Interactive Notifications. This feature allows users to interact with notifications, without leaving the app they are currently using. For example, you could respond to a text message without leaving Mail, Safari, or whatever app you're using at the moment you receive the text, or trash an email without ever opening the Mail app.
How Do I Use Them?
The officially documented way of doing this is through a series of gestures: pulling down the notification, swiping to the right or left, and so on. Of course, VoiceOver users are not able to easily do this; therefore, Apple has extended the functionality of the VoiceOver rotor.
A banner is text that briefly appears at the top of the screen and is spoken by VoiceOver. To respond to a banner, such as a text or iMessage, touch it, then perform a three-finger swipe down. If the app that sent the notification supports this feature, a screen will appear that lets you do something, such as send a reply to a text. If the sending app does not support it, I have found that the banner simply remains on the screen; touch it and do a two-finger scrub to dismiss it.
When you open the Notification Center and choose the "notifications" button instead of the "today" button, you are presented with the usual list of notifications from all your apps. If any of these items support it, you can touch them and flick up or down with one finger to find out what you can do. For instance, if you flick up once on a mail notification, you will hear "trash", and a double tap will trash the message. If you hear nothing, or are moved somewhere else on the screen, find your notification again and turn the VoiceOver rotor to "actions".
Dealing with notifications on the Lock Screen is identical to dealing with them in the Notification Center. Touch an item, flick up or down, and double tap when you hear the action you want to perform.
Notes and Conclusion
Here are a few notes on this feature.
- If an action is "delete", that will not actually delete anything. As far as I can tell, it simply clears the notification.
- If you are reading documentation meant for sighted people, remember this rule of thumb: if you are told to "pull down", touch the item and do a three-finger swipe down; if you are told to swipe left or right, use the "Actions" item of the VoiceOver rotor, find the action with one-finger swipes up or down, and double tap to initiate the chosen action.
- Not all apps support this feature. However, keep checking back as your apps get updated, to see if they have added said support. Again, if an app does not offer interactive notifications, banners will simply stay on the screen when you try to pull them down, and notifications will offer no actions, or possibly only "delete".
That's all there is to it. If you have questions or think I missed anything, leave a comment!