It was about three years ago when I emailed designer Andrew Kim, the guy behind (the now retired) Minimally Minimal blog to ask about the Leica T camera, and his experience with the camera. He had written a couple of blog posts about the camera. It was one of the most iconic and ruthlessly minimal pieces of design — all aluminum and glass, polished to give it the feel of an iPhone, a device which had a massive influence on this new kind of camera. It skipped the usual buttons and knobs. A giant touch screen helped you manage the camera.
It doesn’t matter what app it is — they are all trying to get me to turn on notifications, again and again, so that I can come back to their service. Facebook and Instagram are the most aggressive, but not the only ones who are overtly aggressive. Outlook on iPad thinks I need notifications. I don’t.
For some odd reason “apps” think that every “like,” “message” or “comment” is of life-changing importance and thus needs to be viewed instantly. I mean, if I wanted notifications, I would have turned them on. Like I do for iMessage and Telegram. Those are important and have a time-value attached to them. When there isn’t value, I don’t turn them on. And that is why I find persistent nudging to turn on dumb notifications annoying.
I have long said that notifications are the atomic unit of interactions on mobile and are becoming vital in a world of fractionalized attention. I wrote about a future where the notifications would become a great way to access applications and create a new kind of user experience.
…notifications have been a blunt instrument for apps to try to get our attention. Every time you install a new app on your phone, you get a pop-up message that asks if you want to allow it to send you notifications. If you say yes, they arrive with the same intensity as emails, draining precious battery life, making your phone more annoying than savvy, and all you could do with a notification anyway was tap it to launch the app.
With time, notifications will only get smarter, and the companies that best understand this new way of communicating with its users will bring us just the right amount of information at the right time. Imagine Uber or taking cues from your calendar and your current location to recommend that you order a car now in order to arrive at your next meeting on time.
That was three years ago. And I can’t believe that in 2017 and the notifications have stayed dumb, and are still be used as away to goose daily active user numbers. And these are from companies that paint a future controlled and shaped by artificial intelligence. It seems for now, even for simplest of tasks it is more like asinine intelligence.
July 14, 2017. San Francisco!
Do you remember the iPod Nano with touch capabilities? The sixth generation iPod Nano caused quite a stir — thanks to its touch interface and beautiful screen. And it also set Apple on the path to the Apple Watch. I have always been a bit of an iPod fanboy and bought pretty much every single model.
I was recording a podcast with Matthew Panzarino, editor of TechCrunch yesterday and the conversation turned to current state of Silicon Valley, and the point I made was that as an industry we have been focused on a limited set of metrics – growth and intelligence, for example.
Sure, like any intellectually intensive industry needs high level of IQ, but as we become more embedded and enmeshed in mainstream socio-economic and cultural fabric, technology industry needs to have an equal and perhaps more focus on values and emotional impact of what we create. Technology is a lot more pervasive and embedded into our lives. It is not something that just impacts that operations of a company, an industry or a small subset of population. The digitization’s influence is far-reaching. I have written about need for empathy and understanding.
But in reality we need to start within our own industry — our own ecosystem of investors, startups and finding ways to be more inclusive. It is time to let go of dogmas that have corrupted how our system itself works. My partner at True Ventures Jon Callaghan have very eloquently written about this topic and if you get a chance, give it a read.
I gave up on my beloved iPhone 7+ — the most amazing device I have ever used, a fantastic camera with endless potential and a day long workhorse to switch to a phone that seems to be stuck in the Apple past. Yesterday, I bought a new iPhone SE. Not that I wanted to buy it, but I had no choice. Here is why!