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Can Apple End Notification Fatigue?


Isadora Teich wrote this article


These days we are more connected than ever, and it’s a wonderful thing. You can connect with people around the world in an instant and keep up with loved ones and work with ease.

However, it’s not all positives. One of our most popular blog posts of all time explores how to cope with virtual burnout. Especially as work, play, socializing, and even fitness all became virtual events during the pandemic, many people became stressed out by an endless stream of zoom meetings, virtual watch parties, and phone notifications going off.

We all know someone who groans every time their phone pings. If you feel like your phone is constantly buzzing at you, you may really like Apple’s upcoming iOS update to fix notification overload, Focus. According to Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering:

“iOS 15 helps users stay connected while sharing experiences in real time, gives them new tools to help reduce distraction and find focus, uses intelligence to enhance the photos experience, and, with huge upgrades to Maps, brings new ways to explore the world. We can’t wait for customers to experience it.”

Let’s take a look at how iOS 15 will update the notifications experience.

A New Do Not Disturb

If you are one of the people who feel like you can’t breathe without your phone going off, Apple is making pretty interesting innovations in the realm of notifications. iOS 15 will feature a new tool called Focus that lets you customize who and which apps can reach out to you when.

You can shut off notifications whenever you need to, for example, when you want to sleep or work out.

However, in certain circumstances, it would never really make sense to go totally dark. For example, if you are a parent. Maybe you want to make sure you are always available for your kids.

You can choose who and where you want to receive notifications from, whether it’s your best friend, your children, or an app you rely on.

You can also opt to receive lower priority notifications in the form of an organized digest at certain times during the day, instead of just having it go off constantly. So, you can see more of what matters to you when you want to see it.

Improving Communication

Interestingly, Siri can even scan your phone and see who you communicate with most and suggest leaving your phone open to their messages. Also, approving someone across multiple apps is easy. Say, for example, you approve messages from your partner in iMessage.

Prompts will appear to associate their other accounts with that number and once you do that, they will be able to reach you always on all of the different platforms you may use.

Everyone these days complains about getting left on read. With the away message features built into Focus, you won’t have to worry about appearing to ignore anyone. It’s easy to set it up so when you shut down in Focus mode, you can have an away message sent.

People will know that you are busy and you get to keep doing whatever you’re doing, uninterrupted.

These updates give users new options to temporarily mute and organize notifications.

It also gives developers new options when it comes to sending out notifications for engagement purposes. Their tools include four notification interruption types, two of which are brand new with iOS 15.

Passive Interruptions

This is a new, less obtrusive type of notification that developers can opt for.

They don’t wake the screen or cause it to vibrate when they are received. Passive interruptions go directly to the notification center. In older versions of iOS users could choose to have certain apps deliver notifications silently. With this new notification type, developers choose how their notifications are received by users.

Passive interruptions will end up in summaries if users enable that feature. Something interesting about the summary feature is that it relies on machine learning to organize notifications, rather than relying on simple chronological order. They will be sorted according to what the user needs or interacts with most.

Apple encourages developers to incorporate media into their notifications, as this will raise the chances of them appearing at the top of user notifications digests. Users can likely expect more frequent, less intrusive notifications paired with images or other visuals on iOS 15.

Time Sensitive Notifications

These are more like a standard notification, which lights up your screen, plays a sound, or vibrates.

These are interesting because they are allowed to break through your Focus mode even if they are not approved.

While this option can be turned off by users if they truly don’t want to see them, it does have practical uses. In theory, they should only be employed for truly time-sensitive events, like your credit card company notifying you about suspicious activity on your account.

The good news for developers is that Apple lets them choose which notifications are worth this designation.

Apple asks that they use it responsibly, but there are no strict rules in place to control how they do so. While some think that developers might abuse this system, they would gain relatively little from doing so. If users feel annoyed, they can opt-out of using this option. Also, it is common for users to silence apps that are too intrusive and aggressive.

Other iOS 15 Notification Tweaks

If you use Siri to read your messages and prefer consuming content via audio, you will enjoy this particular iOS 15 update.

Now, you can receive notifications without even looking at your phone. Siri can read all of your notifications to you via a compatible audio device, such as AirPods.

Notifications that are designated critical interruptions will remain the same.

This special type of notification bypasses any ringer or device settings you have. These include emergency notifications from government agencies or the authorities. This could be an Amber alert or severe weather warning.

However, app developers still need special permission for them, so you will never receive an emergency notification from your Sodoku app or Poshmark, for example.

Notifications will also look a bit different. This will include larger app icons and the images of contacts being included in the messages. You will also be able to take action on notifications with graphic icons. For example, you will be able to like an image that pops up in your notifications with a strong visual.

Final Thoughts

Are you looking forward to iOS 15? On top of tackling notification fatigue, there will be a bunch of privacy updates, tweaks to FaceTime, and a complete redesign of apps including Maps and Notes.

Do you think that these will improve the experience for users and developers?

Talk to me.

About Since 2009, we have helped create 350+ next-generation apps for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits from around the globe. Think Partner, Not Agency.


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