Jake Levine says these days he’s using more push notifications and launching apps less, which he feels is impacting how companies need to track their success (instead of using launch counters and such). The statistics point is probably true, though I could care less about such things—if you’re building an app only to worry about how many times users launch it, you’re never going to be happy or successful. What I care about is how this is the exactly opposite of how I use my phone. Jake says:
Imagine an entire suite of apps with which you interact without ever opening. Imagine if app developers could send more data (images, videos) through push notifications, or even receive simple responses (“Yes” / “No”) from users without requiring users to launch the application itself.
So, basically, imagine push notification multi-media advertising. Yuck.
Our phones and the apps within them are with us at all times — they are starting to feel more and more like extensions of the brain, augmenting its inputs with sensors that don’t come pre-installed in humans.
I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t feel like an extension of my brain to get 200 Game Center challenges a day, or to get interrupted every time I try to watch a video because someone checked in near me on Facebook, etc. Perhaps Jake’s brain is just constantly firing in a million directions and he has shouting voices in his head.
I’d love to see some forward progress in notification interfaces from the major mobile operating system. That’s the type of change that could unleash a massive wave of innovation in app development.
You want innovation? Here it is: Make push notifications work like IMAP, not like POP. Instead of blanketing every one of my devices with a unique notification which must be manually cleared, be smart enough to clear notifications on my iPad when I read them on my iPhone, or vice versa. Allow me to turn notifications off everywhere with a single switch. Make this stuff less intrusive, not more.
When push notifications first landed in iOS I went nuts with them, enabling them in every app that asked. Same with my iPad, and then my Mac when OS X 10.8 was released. A few months back I had a realization that it was getting in my way everywhere and almost never being helpful.
Rather than being constantly asked to interact by every one of my devices, I switched off Notification Center on every device save my iPhone. And on my iPhone I removed sounds and banners and badge counts for anything I didn’t deeply care about (like Path messages from my family or FaceTime notifications). Instead of constantly seeing banners or hearing sounds and being forced to look at my iPhone, I only look when I want to and have time.