This post is first in a series around enhancements to the mobile experience I’d like to see going forward. Stay tuned for more 🙂
Background services are one of my favorite features on Android. As the idea of a smartphone changes from a phone to a true contextual device, background services that keep track of user context and push information to the user at appropriate times are essential. That said, the current visual treatment they get on the device to let a user know that they are running, which hasn’t changed much since the inception of Android, needs to change.
Here is a screenshot of my notification shade right now. Note that only one of the 8 notifications I am currently seeing is actually a new event that I actually need to respond to. The flooding of my notification window with the always running service notifications numbs me to actually important actionable notification that sits there.
Proposed Solution Option 1: Notification Tabs with services tucked away
A lot of ROMs already implement Notification Tabs. Moving the background services to a separate tab so that I don’t have to look at them whenever I pull down the shade would solve the problem, though it does add some complexity to the shade.
Proposed Solution Option 2: Collapse background service notifications into one low-priority notification:
This option may be a little better since you don’t add the cognitive complexity to the notifications shade. Simple is better usually 🙂
In both the cases above developers will have to explicitly change their own notification priority to escape the “grouping”. So if a significant event occurs, their notification can be shown along with the rest of the notifications.
As notifications become increasingly more important to the mobile experience, like the coming smart watches that are all about contextual notifications sent by your phone, there is a greater need to make sure that we don’t overwhelm the user with an unorganized stream of information.
As always, feedback is most welcome 🙂