Back in the early days of iOS, all we had as notifications were blue popups. In iPhone OS 1.0 that was perfectly fine. It’s not like I was going to be interrupted in the middle of an important level of Angry Birds. There were no third party apps. All I had was what you (Apple) said I could have: Mail, Phone, SMS, Safari, Calendar and a few others.
Since 2008, the number of apps has grown at an incredible rate, thanks mostly to your awesome App Store. Once we got more in to gaming, and using tons of apps on our portable devices, those blue popups became increasingly frustrating. They intruded and interrupted everything.
In iOS 5, you decided to give us the option to have notifications almost anyway we wanted. I can switch on or turn off App icon badges, OR stop them from showing up on your lock screen, and I can remove them from Notification Center altogether. But, still, there’s nothing useful. Not to me at least. The choices are: lock screen, badges, and a drag down notification drawer. To me, none of them are right.
It may just be because I’m particular about how I like to be alerted, maybe because I’m old fashioned, or because it genuinely makes sense. But, we should have notification icons in the status bar. Virtually every phone operating system has had them for donkey’s years. And, I think there’s good reason for it. They’re obvious enough to not be missed, and yet subtle enough that they don’t command your attention or offend yours eyes.
Personally, I hate app icon badges. I have them switched off on all the apps that I can. If I didn’t, my home screen would be a sea of annoying red circles all fighting for my attention. So, I rely on the Notifaction Center drop down drawer. The frustrating thing is – there’s nothing to tell me that I’ve have missed a notification once I’ve unlocked the phone. Pull the drawer down, and it’s choc-full of Facebook, Mail, Instagram, Messages, Twitter etc. notifications. It’s horrible. I can dismiss them by hitting the “x” button, but there’s no “clear all”, and it’s certainly not as intuitive as – let’s say – Android.
Everyone knows by now that I’m far from an Android fan. For so many reasons, and despite several attempts and different custom skins, I just can’t get along with it. It doesn’t suit me. But, one thing it does right is notifications. There are no annoying badges, or popups. You get an icon in the status bar, which you can then drag down. If you want to dismiss any, just flick it off the screen and it’s gone. What’s more, a lot of Android phones have an LED. Why the fudge doesn’t the iPhone? An LED notification light is the best thing in the world! You don’t even need to unlock your phone to check if you’ve missed anything. You already know, and it stops flashing once you’ve checked your notifications.
Within iOS 6, nothing’s really changed on the notification front. And that disappoints me. Apple, just give us status bar icons, please. It would be so useful. Or at least put an LED in the next iPhone.