Fix Yo Shit: App Notifications

So I work as a software engineer and am what most people would consider to be a techie. As a result, in order to maintain my techie street cred and not be cast out by the techie community, I have what many might consider to be an unnecessary number of gadgets. I have 3 smartphones, a MacBook Air, an iPad Mini, a Surface Pro, 2 work laptops, a desktop PC at  the office and an Xbox One at home. Oh, also, a Microsoft Band… or 2.

Now essentially every single one of my devices runs skype. In some cases, like with my desktop, I have 2 or 3 versions of skype running because I installed the skype desktop app but now there is a universal version that comes with the operating system and if my browser has a window open with my OneDrive, I have the web version of skype running as well. Now, also being a techie and just absolutely irresponsible about energy management, I basically leave all my computers on all the time.

Guess what that means when I receive a Skype call. I’ll wait….

Great. If you guessed anything other than absolute pandemonium, you guessed wrong. Because every single time someone calls me on Skype, every single device I own starts ringing and screaming simultaneously. My phone(s), laptop(s), tablet(s), wearables and in the case of my PC, it starts ringing in 3 different places all at once. Think about that for a second. Triggered by one event of a person trying to call me, I get notified over a dozen times. Simultaneously. My entire world explodes in a cacophony of notifications.

And this isn’t restricted to skype alone. Oh, no no no. It’s everything. Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp(don’t get me started on WhatsApp) , Email. And all this before we even get to the notification mirroring that windows 10 supports between my phone(s) and my PC(s) which is a whole other beast. The point is that everything that feels the need to grab my attention insists on inundating me with all it’s notifications simultaneously from all directions and it’s not cool.

And it doesn’t have to be this way. Every app that I use across multiple platforms knows where I’m using it from. They know where I use it most and where I used it most recently. And if they don’t, they can figure it out. With this information, we should be able to build a smarter and more sophisticated notification system. How about instead of sending all my devices notifications, you slowly escalate. Using a weighted probability distribution of which device I’m most likely to be at, ring that one first. And then methodically expand out to the lesser likely places at, maybe 7 second intervals until you have everything ringing or have pushed the notification to all devices.

For example, say I had received a skype call while typing this post. Instead of ringing my whole world, you know that my most recent activity across the machines you’re running on is my PC. And of my PC apps (built in, installed and web) you know where I most recently received a message or took/made a call and is still active so you ring that one. Now after some time, say 5-7 seconds, if I haven’t answered, you try the next item in your priority queue. You keep going until everything is ringing or I answer(or decline) the call and this way, I don’t have to suffer unnecessarily, I don’t get missed call notifications on every damn device I have and I’m much more of a happy camper.

That’s just one of several possible solutions and if it’s flawed, please, feel free to come up with another one. Just, please, app developers. Fix yo shit.


  1 comment for “Fix Yo Shit: App Notifications

  1. Patience
    August 8, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Very enjoyable read. Btw, why don’t you solve that one problem. After All, you are a software engineer!

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