Mobile Notifications

I was talking to a bunch of entrepreneurs a few weeks ago, and someone asked me what I thought was new and game changing. I replied mobile notifications. I thought I'd explain why.

I'm talking about android notifications here, not iPhone notifications or anything else. I think notifications is one of the things android has done much better than any other mobile OS and I suspect the way they do it will be eventually copied by the other mobile OS vendors.

Instead of doing a popup alert which interrupts you (iPhone), the android notifications all go into a single inbox that can be quickly viewed by pulling down from the status bar at the top of the main screen. You can get a vibrate or audio alert when a new notification comes in. That is configured by the user. I choose to have some notifications give me vibrating alerts (like communications services such as sms or kik) and leave most others silent. But that is totally up to each and every user.

The reason I think mobile notifications, done right, are a game changer is that notifications become the primary way I use the phone and the apps. I rarely open twitter directly. I see that I have '10 new @mentions" and I click on the notification and go to twitter @mention tab. I see that I have "20 new checkins" and I click on the notification and go to the foursquare friends tab. I see that I have "4 new kik messages" and I click on the notification and go to my kik app.

I think this is a game changer for a few reasons. First, it allows me to use a lot more engagement apps on my phone. I don't need them all on the main page. As long as I am getting notifications when there are new engagements, I don't really care where they are on the phone. Second, I can have as many communications apps as I want. I've currently got sms, kik, skype, beluga, and groupme on my phone. I could have plenty more. I don't need to be loyal to any one communication system, I just need to be loyal to my notification inbox. And finally, the notification screen is the new home screen. When I pull out my phone, it is the first thing I do. I think Android ought to reconsider what the home screen looks like. Why not have it feel like a Twitter timeline, alive and happening, versus a dead desktop style collection of apps?

I haven't done a deep dive on how this all works but I intend to. Can HTML apps use the notification channel? Can developers get access to this notification channel and start to build filters and other obvious applications that we will all want and need when this becomes our primary way we use the mobile device? These are the kinds of questions I want to understand because I think notifications will become the primary way that we consume on the mobile device and may be the reason we move away from downloadable software and back to web based software on our mobile devices.

And that is why I think mobile notifications are one of the biggest game changers to come along in our world recently.