Notifications: Better than Apple, Worse than Palm

When Apple introduced its notification system on the iPhone, I was pleased. If you’re using your phone and you get a SMS, a little bubble appears on the screen and you get to read/dismiss the SMS:

That was three years ago. The iPhone can do a lot more now and the notification system is beginning to show its age. It’s annoying if you’re trying to do something else with your phone and you keep getting notifications. And it doesn’t scale well to getting tons of notifications, you’re just shown the most recent with no indication of what came before it.

Palm improved on Apple’s system by claiming a line or two of screen real estate and displaying notifications at the bottom of the screen. It was far less intrusive than Apple’s method but still gave you the same functionality. If you wanted to see more, just tap the notification bar and you see more of the message. This works for IMs, text messages, etc...

Notifications on the Palm Pre at the Bottom

Google takes a similar approach to Palm, although you don’t lose any additional screen real estate. The upper left hand corner of the screen is reserved for notifications. It’s a part of the status bar so there’s no screen resizing at work. If you get a message, missed call, IM, or anything you get a preview in this corner. The entirety of any message is displayed here; if it can’t fit on a single line, the message appears piecemeal.

Notifications can build up over time. Here we have a missed call, USB connection message, debug mode message and Pandora running in the background all at the same time:

Kinda crowded, right? Here’s where it gets awkward. To see all of your notifications simply place your finger at the top of your screen and drag down. You’ll reveal all of your notifications in list form:

It feels awkward if you’re used to using any non-Android phone. It’s functional, it gets the job done, but it’s just a strange UI construct. In fact, Android is riddled with such things.

The Keyboard: Form Factor vs. Speed Enter the Snapdragon


View All Comments

  • fepple - Wednesday, April 07, 2010 - link

    +1 for mention of cyanogen
    Also of note there is no equaliser which I think the iPhone has?
  • doratiog - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    The possibility of reading the whole article without the tiring exercise of clicking and clicking again like if readers would have been punished and obliged to suffer Tantalus torture is gone. Not a good and rational decision if you wanted to improve your site. Reply
  • Voo - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    It's just a beta and will come back in no time, so no worries.

    Other than that.. tiring exercise of clicking a dozen times on a button? Well you could say that, but imho that's a bit far stretched isn't it? ;)
  • adityanag - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    Print.. PLEASE bring back print!! Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    My apologies for not getting it up sooner, we've been swamped with fixes and behind the scenes updates most of this week. We should see it very soon though, just a little while longer :)

    Take care,
  • microAmp - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    If you're using Firefox, try the add-on AutoPager, it'll load the next page while you're scrolling and reading the current page. Reply
  • runner50783 - Sunday, April 04, 2010 - link

    I do appreciate the layout, It's a much more organized and concise experience than blogs..., Anantech is not a blog and I hope it does not become one. Reply
  • Trisagion - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    Nice review.

    I wish you would review the Blackberry Storm2 as well. As a long term Blackberry user, maybe you can give us your thoughts on how productive the phone is without the trademark keyboard. It will also round up the current generation of smart phones - iPhone, Pre, Android and Storm.
  • straubs - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    I think the reason that isn't done is the first Storm was such a flop that really no one considers the Storm to be a competitor with iPhone, Android, or Pre. Reply
  • Trisagion - Sunday, April 04, 2010 - link

    That is true, but it's the only touch phone in the Blackberry ecosystem, so I wanted Anand's take on it but anyway... Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now