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

  • xtremevarun - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    Reviews of Nexus One on other sites were not as comprehensive as on Anandtech. You guys really explored all the features. Apple needs to do a major refresh to iPhone. And I do see Android becoming a major, major OS for phones if it's not already. WinMo7 also looks great. Good that competition is hotting up against the iPhone. Reply
  • xxNIBxx - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    What about Samsung's Bada OS? Samsung Wave s8500 beats the living crap out of all those Snapdragon devices. Also Samsung will release i9000 Galaxy S, which has pretty much the same hardware as with s8500, except it runs Android. Hardware wise, these 2 are the best phones in the world. Snapdragon is old news.

    Iphone 4g, which will come out in 2 months, will most likely use apple's a4, which from what i hear, is probably identical to samsung's 1ghz cpu(same cpu/gpu)/
  • sprockkets - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    If you receive a call over BT, does it

    1. Play the ringtone over the headset?
    2. Play it on the headset only or both the speaker and headset?
    3. Announce CID over the headset or even just the speaker?
  • sushantsharma - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    Looks OK! But usability should not go for a toss! Or I am missing it and it is there? Reply
  • Chloiber - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    "It's got a Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8650 SoC"

    Thought the Nexus One (and the HTC Desire) use a Snapdragon QSD8250?!
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    You are correct :) Fixed!

    Take care,
  • Karl Brown - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    I will be receiving my Sony X10 on Tuesday.

    I hope the Sony will offer enough of the Nexus One's functionality to not make me regret not waiting longer for the Nexus One to become available in the UK.
  • jasperjones - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the very thorough review. The one area were the review lacks depth is audio and video playback and syncing. Differences in this area are striking imo:

    1.) If you don't use iTunes as an iPhone owner, you're pretty much SOL. The Nexus One I could sync with iTunes using DoubleTwist. But I don't like iTunes. I can just use Explorer or Windows Media Player or Songbird (1.7 beta) to sync instead. The latest Songbird builds do an amazing job (they even converts WAV and FLAC files on-the-fly).

    2.) Formats. I like that the the Nexus One supports OGG. FLAC support is coming (AFAIK it got added to trunk some time ago--idk if users will see it in FroYo or Gingerbread) Plus the Nexus One gives me everything the iPhone has (including M4A).

    3.) The media player. I hate to admit it as a current Nexus One and previous iPhone owner, but here the iPhone with its iPod app wins hands down. The UI of the iPod app is infinitely more intuitive, whereas things such as playlist generation are a pain on Android (everything takes far too many clicks).

    Because of 3.), I think the overall win in this category goes to the iPhone.
  • bstewart - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    Outstanding review - really enjoyed your detailed assessment of the Nexus one compared to the IPone and Palm Pre. I have read a number of reviews on the Nexus one lately determining if it is the right device for me or not. After reading this review I am certainly more inclined to purchase it than before; especially based on it's pros and cons versus the IPhone. Thanks!

  • cj100570 - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    All in all I'm not feeling this review. There was way to much time spent comparing the Nexus to the iPhone. And your complaints about the notification system used by Android is just asinine. I'm the former owner of both an original and 3G iPhone and Android simply puts the iPhone OS to shame. The iPhone had it's 15 minutes of fame but it's time to face facts that Apples way of doing things is the biggest problem the iPhone has. As a smartphone it is a #FAIL. Sure it sells well but the honest truth is that most people buy it because it's an Apple product and because of all the apps, 80% useless, that Apple and AT&T trot out as the big selling point. Reply

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