Better and Smarter Notifications

27 May 2013 -


I’m sat in my living room in front of my PC, I have my Nexus phone to the right of me just next to my mouse and my Nexus 7 is sat on table behind me. When I get tagged in a Google Plus post I get notified 5 times.

  1. My PC shows that I have a new email from G+
  2. My phone notification goes off twice, once for G+ app and another for email
  3. My tablet notification goes off twice, once for G+ app and another for email

OK so this sounds very much like first world problems, hell it is but still it poses an interesting problem. How do we get better and smarter notifications?

One Account

What one thing in common do the above 3 items have in common? They’re all tied to my google account, theoretically this solves one problem already, I have a way of syncing message statuses and preferences.

Preferences

On my phone and tablet I’ve reduced the noise by turning off notification in G+ app. I had to do this manually on both devices. Why aren’t these options synced? I’m signed into the same google account on both devices therefore I should be able to sync my preferences, something that Chrome already does between multiple machines.

Smarter Android Notifications

Why did my phone and tablet need to notify me twice about the same content? On face value the notifications came from two separate apps (G+ and Gmail). Contextually they’re the same. I’d like to see some form of unified messaging layer, a message comes through and has something unique about it. Androids notification layer then determines which app is best delivering this to the user, conceptually this is very powerful. In this case G+ app would be the best but imagine if I was close to my data limit or in a poor service area where purely textual data would be appropriate.

Proximity

In this current usage situation all my devices are within a few meters of me, I don’t need to be notified by all of them. When I go to work my PC is off, my tablet is next to my bed and my phone is in my pocket, in this situation I want all my notifications to my phone. On the other hand as I’m writing this I’m sat at my computer so therefore I want all notifications to this machine. When I’m reading in bed I want all notifications to my tablet etc etc.

The next logical step would be to have notifications managed by proximity. I’d love to see this but integration between all these different services would have to be pretty tight something which just isn’t there yet.

Notifications is something that will no doubt become more and more important as our wired society becomes more ingrained with new and existing technology. I’m looking forward to when I can get my hands on prescription google glasses. My only concern is privacy, in wanting all these features technology must become more invasive and in this particular case google would have to have a bigger insight into my every day life. Either way it’s an interesting topic to think about.