Q: I had an argument with my Android boyfriend the other day about the notifications on my iPhone. I like the fact that I can see that I have new messages and stuff without having to unlock my iPhone, but he made a really good point that anybody else looking at my iPhone can see my private messages without my passcode. Of course, he’s being smug and seems to think this makes Android better for privacy, and I guess he’s kind of got a point, but I’m sure I’ve seen someone’s iPhone that said only something like “New Message from Joe” on the lock screen instead of the actual text. Am I imagining this or is there some way to make my iPhone do this? I really don’t want to turn my lock screen messages off, but I can see the problem with having a more personal message light up the phone for everyone around me to read.
A: Yes, you can do this, but unfortunately it’s only available for a couple of the built-in apps—specifically Mail, Messages and Photos. To disable the text in the notifications that appear on your lock screen, simply go into Notifications in your Settings app and choose one of these apps. If you scroll down in the notification settings, you’ll see an option to Show Preview; toggling this OFF will result in only the sender and type of message being shown (e.g. “iMessage” or “Text Message” for Messages), rather than the actual content of the message.
The same applies if you have notifications of e-mail messages enabled, or if you’re using Shared Photo Streams; in the latter case, the notification would include a preview of any newly-shared photos added by others. Note that turning this OFF will also affect the previews shown in the banners that appear at the top of the screen when you get a new message while you’re using your iPhone.
Unfortunately, the Show Previews option is not available for third-party apps. While these apps could certainly implement their own privacy measures for notifications, most have not done this. This means that with apps like Facebook and Twitter your only option is to either turn off lock screen notifications entirely, or leave the previews themselves visible.