Dear Apple, why do iOS notifications still suck?

Dear Apple,

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.

Yours, Cam.

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  • C_Koch1

    @TodaysiPhone because jb just camr out havent had time to copy them from android

  • Anto

    I can agree about one thing that when it comes to the notifications, iPhone is very much far behind. They claim they are the first at everything but they sure do trail behind when it comes to common sense. Yes they are technical and their designs are innovative, but with much innovation, where is the obvious? Just like I’ve been complaining about for years, why can’t I change the skin of my phones UI without having to jailbreak my phone? It’s nonsense.

    Whatever nice write up. Notifications still suck.

  • AnthonyWilliams

    I can agree about one thing that when it comes to the notifications, iPhone is very much far behind. They claim they are the first at everything but they sure do trail behind when it comes to common sense. Yes they are technical and their designs are innovative, but with much innovation, where is the obvious? Just like I’ve been complaining about for years, why can’t I change the skin of my phones UI without having to jailbreak my phone? It’s nonsense.

    Whatever nice write up. Notifications still suck.

  • http://www.iphonestuffs4u.com/ Chandrashekhar

    Quite apparently, Apple has to stop being a leader in this regard. And follow Android, for heaven’s sake ;)

  • LV2355

    “But, we should have notification icons in the status bar.”
     
    You mean just like Android has it. The rotten Apple cannot affort to be banned (it has onle a few devices) and doing what you ask, with present sh!tty patent laws, that’s what will happen.
    Or rotten Apple is allowed to copy anyone’s protected ideas without any penalty… 

  • LV2355

     @AnthonyWilliams Apple now it’s like Nokia 2-3 years ago. But in Nokia case, they had the decency to admits that they are not leaders anymore and going down without screeming or sue anyone else. Not Apple behaviour. They start those pattents lawsuits when they realized they couldn’t be number 1 anymore in this industry. That’s the rotten Apple.

  • http://www.appleytu.com/ Alonso Pirela

    I am agree with you man, still sucks, I dont understand why only apple just include twitter and facebook?, why dont include a direct acces to setting at least.

  • http://zpaolo.deviantart.com/ ZPaolo

    So basically you are saying that notification in iOS suck because it has no icons on the status bar… that’s fine, but not really fair. I’m an Android user and to say that iOS is “far behind” as I read in the comments is difficult to understand for me. In iOS you have:
     
    - A centralized system to manage notification style (in Android you have to check and configure each app manually in different menus)
    - Every app, if you want, can have popups OR badges OR banners (in Android only certain launchers have notification badges for a selection of apps, some apps have popups that never looks the same, some apps notify to the lock screen but not all of them)
     
    The bottom line for me is that iOS has less options, but a more solid and consistent notification system, while on Android you have more freedom and tweaks, but that’s what they are: tweaks and workarounds while the only “system wide” notification is the slide down notification menu

  • TalkingTechy

     @AnthonyWilliams Agreed about needing to jailbreak to make the notifications more useful, but that is personal preference. I think LockInfo is one of the essential jailbreak tweaks that takes care of most people’s gripes here, but yes it requires a jailbreak. My non-techy friends don’t care about this, and that is Apple’s main target…the majority. For the minority, us nerds can jailbreak our iDevices and be happy with the tweaking it allows. LockInfo is a must, and I actually foresee this getting into iOS 7, and was a bit surprised some form of it was not adopted in iOS 6.

  • Rox

    Aww come on… The 4s has an led that goes off once…only in lock mode…and on the back of the phone… -___- Great article. I made the jump from blackberry to iOS and I find the notification system is useless unless you have no life and are face down in your phone 24/7, or have the phone on loud which is not always ideal, or on vibrate and on your person at all times, which drains the already sucky battery. As advanced, beautiful and fast as this device is, I have no use for it except during leisure time, which isn’t often. Great phone for teens, not business people.