Priority Message Notification in iOS Devices

One of the shortcomings of Apple’s iOS devices (as of iOS 5.0.1) is the inability to recognize message priority flags.  So if a user with an iPhone receives a message that has been sent with high priority, there is no native feature in the iOS operating system that will alert the recipient to the fact that they have such a message.  However, for iOS users who utilize Microsoft Exchange for their corporate email, there is a way to bring special attention to messages sent with high priority via SMS.

The first step is to create a contact that will serve as the recipient for the SMS message.  You will need to consult the settings for your particular carrier to find the format for this address.  For AT&T users, the format will be [10-digit phone number]  Once the contact is created, create an email rule similar to the one below:

This rule will tell Exchange to forward any message marked as “High Importance” to the contact that was created for the SMS address. While the above view is from a Windows Outlook client, the same can be accomplished through OWA, or in Entourage or Outlook 2011 for Mac.

Within a few minutes (depending on your reception and your carrier), you will receive a text version of the email message that was marked with high importance.  Because of the inherent 160 character limitation of SMS messaging, it is unlikely that you will be able to read the entire message, however the SMS message will alert you to the fact that you have a priority email and you can then read it in the native iOS email client. Keep in mind, the source of the text message may vary based upon your carrier. Here is how the text message may appear on an AT&T connected device. Note the highlighted portion of the text.

One thing to be careful of… Normal text messaging rates will apply, so if you receive a large number of priority messages, and do not have an unlimited messaging plan, this could get expensive very quickly.  You can lower the number of messages that get forwarded by tweaking the rule to filter for certain senders, but its always a good idea to be aware of your SMS plan.

3 thoughts on “Priority Message Notification in iOS Devices

  1. Thank you for this tip! This was one of my major complaints when moving from a Blackberry to the iPhone. Now I have a reasonable workaround until Apple provides a high priority feature.

  2. Nice workaround and you did a good job of pointing out the risks. I understand there will be a better option coming out soon and will let you know. Thanks for offering this though!

  3. I don’t understand way the RED ( ! ) mark came up twice within 
    fifteen minutes to the indevedual I 
    and texted beore. 
    Never happen to anyone else since I bough This iPhone 4S in March 2012

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