What is a Time-Sensitive Notification on iPhone and How to Enable or Disable it

New Notification

Learn how to quickly enable or disable Time-Sensitive notification for an app on your iPhone and never miss an important update!

Apple has brought significant changes in the fundamental way of how notifications can interact with users in iOS 15. With the introduction of Focus Mode and Notification Summary, we now have great control over when notifications can notify us.

Apple has provided developers new ways to categorize and deliver notifications, namely ‘Passive interrupts’ and ‘Time-Sensitive interrupts’. Time-Sensitive notification is one of those new ways to make sure that a critical update gets delivered to the users breaking through barriers of Focus Mode or Notification Summary even if the notification is from an unapproved app.

Before we tinker around to enable or disable Time-Sensitive notification for an app, let’s completely understand what is it and how it impacts you.

Note: This is a beta feature and won’t be available generally until the public release of iOS 15 or macOS 12 later in fall 2021.

What is a Time-Sensitive Notification in iOS 15?

With iOS 15, Apple introduced Focus Mode and Summary Notification to help the users tune out unnecessary notifications from chosen apps and receive them later at a convenient time.

However, this posed a serious risk to the user as these modes are capable of silencing and holding back information that directly impacts them. For instance, say your Focus Mode is set for work and only work associated apps are allowed to send you a notification, it might let you miss an update regarding your recent bank account activity or a shipment delivery at your place.

This is where Time-Sensitive notifications come in, they can break through user-defined modes to deliver such critical information which might require your immediate attention or at times an action as well.

Thus, when enabled, Time-Sensitive notifications from an application will always be delivered immediately, so you won’t miss out on any important alerts.

Now an obvious question arises, what notifications would be deemed as Time-Sensitive? A single application is capable of delivering various types of notifications throughout the day.

Well, Apple has provided developers a free hand to decide and categorize the outgoing notifications from their applications. Though there is a chance developers might abuse this, Apple did issue a guideline to honor the trust and be realistic about the interruption level of the notification.

Apple also reminded developers in the guideline, that users can completely turn off the notifications for their application if they feel a high level of urgency is being used to deliver low-priority information.

To provide developers a guideline on how to correctly categorize notifications, the iOS system defines four levels of interrupts:

  • Passive: This is one of the new levels of interrupts added by Apple in iOS 15. Notifications falling under this category will not trigger any visual or audio clue, and their delivery might also be delayed if the app is chosen for Notification Summary. For instance, giving out a review to a recently visited place.
  • Active (default): Notifications have been delivered through this category for years. Probably the last notification you received on your phone might be using this interrupt level. Notifications might trigger a sound, or a visual banner, or probably both. For instance, a followed channel/celebrity starting a live stream on a social networking site.
  • Time-Sensitive: One more new level of interrupts added in iOS 15. These are essentially high-priority notifications and would break through user-defined system controls, such as Focus Mode and Notification Summary. For instance, reminders to take medications at a specific time.
  • Critical: This level of interrupt was introduced in iOS 14, but is very seldom delivered. As these notifications will even break through your ringer switch and every user-controlled system, it requires special permission from Apple. Typical notifications you might have received under this category could be incoming extreme weather alerts, high/low heart rate, or any local safety alerts.

Here below is a chart to understand how notifications under each interrupt level can behave in the system:

Interruption levelOverrides scheduled deliveryBreaks through FocusOverrides Ring/Silent switch
PassiveNoNoNo
ActiveNoNoNo
Time SensitiveYesYesNo
CriticalYesYesYes
Source: Apple

Now that you know what is Time Sensitive notification, let’s learn how to enable or disable it for an app on your iPhone.

How to Enable Time-Sensitive Notifications for an App on iPhone

Enabling Time-Sensitive notification is as plain-sailing as it gets, provided you know what to do.

First, tap on the ‘Settings’ application from the home screen of your iPhone.

tap settings

Next, tap on the ‘Notifications’ option from the list of settings.

After that scroll down to the app, you need to enable Time-Sensitive notification. Then, tap on it from the available list of options.

Next, toggle the switch to ‘On’ position situated right beside the ‘Time-Sensitive Alerts’.

enable time-sensitive notification for an app

How to Disable Time-Sensitive Notification

Though Time-Sensitive notifications are pretty important. There might be a scenario where you don’t want to receive such notifications temporarily. For instance, you might have a work-related reminder set for daily repeat, but you are on a vacation. Thus, turning it off might make sense to you.

To do so, tap on the ‘Settings’ application from the home screen of your iPhone.

Next, tap on the ‘Notifications’ option from the list of settings.

After that scroll down to the app, you need to disable Time-Sensitive notification. Then, tap on it from the available list of options.

tap on reminders

Next, toggle the switch to ‘Off’ position situated right beside the ‘Time-Sensitive Alerts’.

disable time-sensitive notification for an app