Tag Archive for ‘Notifications’

Reducing Interruptions ➝

Chris Hannah:

As for other notifications on my devices, I have a system where if I receive a notification that annoys me, I turn them off for that app entirely. Similarly to what I did when experimenting with my email system, by reducing the number of annoying and distracting notifications, they become much more useful, and have a bigger signal to noise ratio.

I’ve also been leaving do not disturb on for long periods of time, and purposely leaving my phone somewhere so I’m not distracted. I must admit, I’ve found it to be rather refreshing.

My default for any app that asks me to enable notifications is an emphatic no. I will only enable notifications for an app if I have a very specific reason to. And even then, I love configuring an app so that it can only show notifications on the Lock Screen or only display a badge with no actual notification at all.

➝ Source: micro.chrishannah.me

A Notification Audit ➝

Marius Masalar:

It’s easy to inadvertently dig yourself into a pit of distraction. We install new apps, and we’re excited to use them to their fullest so we accept their terms and grant their permission requests…and suddenly that’s one more thing pinging, beeping, or vibrating our phones during the day.

Over time, this becomes untenable. To their credit, phone manufacturers have generally done a good job of giving us the tools to manage this deluge, but we tend to be bad at actually making use of them.

I’m happy to say that I’ve resisted this behavior on my own devices. I basically refuse to allow notifications from apps unless I have a very good reason to enable them.

But if you’ve been a bit less disciplined, I would recommend you follow in Marius’ footsteps and adjust your notification settings. You’ll be amazed how much peace of mind can be obtained when your device isn’t bugging you with unnecessary beeps, buzzes, and badges throughout the day.

Notes on Notifications ➝

Nick Heer, writing on Pixel Envy:

It is a hard problem: phones have a fixed display space, and notifications have to be somehow informative yet unobtrusive. And, yes, an Apple Watch helps bear the burden of rapidly-accumulating notifications. But I think iOS should to do better on its own. I don’t know for certain what radically-improved notifications look like, and I don’t think that it’s any sort of AI-backed magic algorithm sorting your notifications for you. Maybe it is, in part, taking a cue from the Apple Watch: a very small initial notification and expanding the notification only if you linger on it, something which can be accomplished on the iPhone by tracking eye movement with the TrueDepth camera.

I don’t find notifications on iOS to be nearly as annoying as others do. But I’ve taken the time to craft my devices’ settings to my liking. When I install a new app, I almost always choose to block the app from sending notifications and I’ve made adjustments to exactly how certain apps can notify me — turning off badges, sounds, or the notification’s ability to show in history.

There’s obviously room for improvement here. And I agree with Nick, users shouldn’t have to adjust their settings to prevent notification annoyances. Apple needs to do something to fix this.

iOS 12 Notifications Concept ➝

A great mockup from my buddy Matt Birchler showing the direction he’d like to see Apple go with notifications in iOS 12. The two key points being that notifications from the same app are bundled together and all of your notifications are listed in order of importance.

Designing Better Notifications ➝

Ben Brooks, writing on Martian Craft’s weblog:

For most of the modern smartphone era, notifications have either had two states: on or off. But that’s not how we actually operate as individuals. We opt for ‘on’ because we’d rather not miss things, but end up missing the signal in all that noise. Instead, as developers and designers, we should be looking at methods for crafting our notifications to be respectful of individuals’ lives, while delivering the most impact when our apps do send a notification. We need to stop pulling people out of the moment because a marketer decided now was the most optimal time to push a notification.

The piece includes some great suggestion from Ben on how developers can improve their application’s notification handling. I especially like the idea of expiring notifications — something I had no idea was already built into iOS.

Keeping Track of Birthdays in iOS

June is always a hectic month for me, and not just because of WWDC. The month of June contains more of my family and friends’ birthdays than any other month of the year. I have a cousin’s on the third, mine on the eleventh, my fiancée’s on the fifteenth, a family friend’s on the sixteenth, my niece’s on the nineteenth, and my mother and sister’s on the twenty seventh. Seven birthdays in thirty days.

I’ve always had a hard time keeping track of everyone’s birthday, but never is that more apparent then during the month of June. But, this year I decided to make use of a feature that Apple has supported for the entire time I’ve been using their platforms — birthday calendar events. And, it’s incredibly easy to set up.

Adding Birth Dates

All you need to do is start adding birthdates to the contact information in your Contacts app and birthdays will start to appear in the Calendar app. And Contacts even asks for the year the person was born, so the calendar event will include how old that person will be on their birthday. I found this information invaluable when I was picking out a card for my niece — I knew she was turning five and picked out a birthday card accordingly.

Birthday Reminders

The other feature I turned on is notifications for these incredibly useful calendar events. Inside Settings; under Mail, Contacts, Calendars; and buried under Default Alert Times, there’s an option to turn on notifications for birthdays. I have mine set to two days before, which gives me just enough time to pick up a card or gift and serves as a reminder to send them a greeting on their birthday.

Today View Birthdays

But, Apple didn’t stop there. For those of you who, like myself, check their Today View every few hours, iOS offers a reminder the day before and the day of someone’s birthday — I no longer have an excuse for neglecting to acknowledge a friend or family member’s birthday. Now, I just need to finish inputting birthdates into my Contacts app so I can start seeing more of those tiny present icons in my calendar.

Serving the Device ➝

Joe Caiati:

I decided to think about what exactly is waking up my iPhone and vying for my attention. After going through these app’s settings and discovering that most of them have fine-grained notifications, I was able to shut off a lot of distractions. […]

I am finally trying to make my device serve me. I may not have broken the urge to wake the screen up to see if I missed a notification, but with less of them coming in, I can put my iPhone back in my pocket and focus on more important matters.

I’ve always been very aggressive about denying a newly downloaded application’s ability to send me notifications. I’d rather turn them on later if I found the app to be useful — which happens very rarely. But, I know that most people don’t deal with notifications in the same way and often allow them from apps they’d rather not.

On a recent episode of The Vergecast, Nilay Patel noted that he thinks the new way to gauge if someone is bad at computers is by checking to see how cluttered their notifications are. And, I think he’s right. Tech-savvy users seem more likely to be in-tune with how distracting notifications can be and more willing to actually tweak the settings necessary to limit those distractions.

And, this whole conversation really is about distractions — about striking the right balance between staying informed about the stuff you care most about and eliminating your phone’s ability to steal your attention. It reminds me of something I heard Merlin Mann talk about years ago (I have no idea where). He talked about how incredible it was that people allow their phone to steal their attention regardless of what they’re doing — that people have a compulsion to answer it whenever it rings.

Merlin suggested breaking yourself of that habit so you could maintain focus on what you are doing and get back to whoever called when it’s more convenient for you. I think notifications should be managed the same way and eliminating ones that are unnecessary is a great first step to having your device serve you and not the other way around.

Revamped Notifications and Widgets in iOS 5 ➝

MG Siegler:

The other big news for iOS5 — and yes, I’ve completely buried the lede here, thanks for reading! — two things: completely revamped notifications and widgets.

I’m one of the few that hasn’t really gone along with the idea that Apple needs a new notification system for iOS. They could certainly be improved, but I usually try to avoid notifications whenever I can. But, if Apple could make them less obtrusive and more useful, I could see turning them on for more of my apps.

As far as widgets are concerned, I don’t use them on my Mac and beyond a simple weather widget, I don’t foresee myself using them on my iPhone.