The One Thing iOS Got Right, Android Does Decently, and BlackBerry 10 Got VERY Wrong!
Before I even begin, I will just say that in case you didn’t know, this is an opinion piece, my opinion. The topic of this post is up for debate and I am going to be explaining my take, but it is by no means written in stone.
A smartphone is a super personal device that is intended to meet the needs of the person using it. It is for this reason that no two smartphones, once personalized by the owner, look alike. Apps aligned differently, widgets, settings, and wallpapers, all set to the preference of the user. The notification system is no different.
Given the insanely fast pace by which the tech space including mobile and web, is moving, notification overload is becoming a serious problem for many people. Take me for example. I am getting notifications throughout the day for the following services: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Path, Google+, Email, Calendar, iMessage, and more.
Now, as you probably know, I am using an iPhone 5 at the moment, and all in all, I think iOS offers me the best notification system to keep things under control. I want an app to ping me when a notification comes in? Sure. I don’t? No problem. I like being notified when my phone is locked without the need to turn on the phone? Not a problem. I don’t? We can do that too.
Android? Well, it is not a bad notification system, but, at least from someone used to iOS, it is far from perfect. Take the ability to have my phone’s screen turn on when a new email comes in. Android won’t allow that. Yes, there are apps to facilitate that functionality, but really, shouldn’t it be a lot easier? I want to know who is sending me an email to my work account (Exchange. Yes, really.) without the need to open the app and look. Sorry, Android folks, not possible right now. I can go on and on but the point is, Android notifications are ok, but not great…
Here, however, is the kicker. The mother of email and father of productivity, BlackBerry, just released their new OS that is supposed to be the company’s savior. And to be honest, it is actually a pretty awesome attempt. More on that here. Except, there seems to be one part of the OS that BlackBerry completely forgot to include and it pretty much makes the phone useless to a person with a lot going on.
There is the BlackBerry Hub where you can see all the messages you got including Twitter, Facebook, Email, etc. and I will go back to that in a second, but when a new message comes in, you have no preview, no way of knowing what that message is, who sent it, and whether it is important enough for you to turn your phone on and look in the Hub. This lacking functionality is killing me.
I have passed on this complaint to the guys at BlackBerry and received some sort of indication that this might be included in future updates but for now, my Z10 is ringing and pinging 400 times a day and if I am overwhelmed with Android notifications, I am close to losing it on the Z10.
Back to the Hub. It is a very cool idea, but it stops being cool when it goes from an idea to something you depend on throughout the day. Every single Twitter mention, every single FB like, email, Linkedin request, and the list goes on. Of course, I can choose which notifications appear in my Hub, but I want the Hub to interface with apps. What do I mean?
Well, lets say I have Twitter open and I am reading my mentions, there is no reason those mentions should then appear in the Hub as unread, right? Wrong. They are there until you clear them and mark them as read. Except, there is no way to clear out the Hub and finding the Mark All As Read option in the Hub was a fluke that I am convinced 99% of Z10 users wont be able to do.
If BlackBerry is targeting its most natural audience, which is people who want to be productive, the company needs to address this serious flaw in the OS like yesterday.