▲ ▼ Notification pollution
An average US smartphone user supposedly receives 46 app push notifications per day. It's highly likely that most of them are distributed during working hours, so if distributed equally an average user is interrupted ~ 3 times/hour during 16 hours when they are awake. This figure is likely higher in some Asian countries, where some apps play integral part in the lifestyle.
Science is clear on the effect of notifications on productivity - it's bad. Both android and iOS has features to disable notifications for the entire app or by categories, but when it comes to categories the onus is on the app developer to maintain the etiquette.
I think there is a need gap to impose etiquette on the users as well, considering majority of the notifications are from messaging apps and social networks. Making the user select the category of notification e.g. 'delayed' for a meme & 'immediate' for urgent, emergency communication can help this.
Abishek invited us over from Product Hunt. I run growth at Courier. We take notification ethics very seriously and we are actively contributing to solving this problem. As a notification sender, their notifications often get out of control due to lack of centralized management per product team in any given company. This is because all of the different APIs and code templates that need management end up only being visible to said team. This is why we built Courier. Plug in any messaging API into our single API and run a centralized workspace that sends, designs, tracks, and logs all of a companies notifications. Included is a sophisticated preferences API and inbox that can be dropped into any app allowing for even more control over individual users. Check us out on Product Hunt.
Good to see you on needgap Micah!
I appreciate Courier's approach to reduce notification pollution by providing better tools for developers to limit the number of notifications. Apart from the ethics, This might also result in higher conversions for the developer as the user would be less inclined to disable the notifications of an app completely due to lesser but useful notifications.
Yes, increased engagement is likely a hypothetical outcome. We hope that we can start a movement where app to human communication is considered a primary UX layer and that these channels are no longer seen as separates but as communication. The user should not even notice these separations. It should be part of a seemless channel-less experience that is basically a new layer that floats above the app layer.
If the sender cannot be forced to follow message etiquette, Perhaps the receiver should be given an option to delay the incoming messages for non important messages. This can also help people like me know don't like real-time communication.
The primary area this comes up for me is PMs/texts and calls (It’s easier mentally to ignore a popup from youtube or twitter than a message from someone I know). Along the lines of what you’re suggesting, a simple solution would be to allow message senders/voice callers to *optionally* mark the communication as “urgent” or “casual.” By default, calls and messages would still come with neither flag, implying that they’re somewhere in the middle: “please respond at your earliest convenience.”
On second thought, I think it would be better to make “casual” the default. This would leave the burden on the caller/sender to affirmatively mark the communication as “urgent” or “response requested.”
Lots of ways to do it. On the receiving end, the app — or ideally, the entire platform — could organize the notifications into several levels of urgency. One could set their status at various levels of “Do Not Disturb.” ie, instead of simply muting all calls and messages, one could mute all except those designated as “urgent.” At other times, we could set it to mute only “casual” level messages and let everything else come through.
The issue with passing on this responsibility to senders is that every major Internet Messaging app needs to implement it, we cannot just create an IM app with this features as there is a huge 'chicken-and-egg' issue for any new IM app i.e. chat app requires significant adoption to sustain, people will use it only when their friends and family start to use it; besides the problem we could potentially address with such an app is not a majoritarian opinion.
The best available option to those of us, who see this problem is to build a notification manager which intercepts notifications and uses NLP for parsing each notification for scheduling it according to our priority.
Abishek, do you have any idea why Apple & Google haven’t implemented it at a platform level? Apple has shown interest in calm tech. I’m surprised the feature never showed up. Is the interest level among their customers that low?
Both Apple & Google has implemented so called 'well-being' features which show much we use each app, in the case of Android10 it's even possible shut off few apps for a defined period. The thing is, businesses generally refrain from 'teaching etiquette' to their customers especially if it involves changing decade old habits.
>Is the interest level among their customers that low?
But there seems to be a need gap for smartphone detox, hence dumb phones like 'Light Phone 2' was able to meet its campaign goals at indiegogo - https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/light-phone-2#/.
I personally have notifications disabled on almost all of the apps, if not tightly configured and even those notifications I receive gets sunk into a smartwatch stuck to my desk.