Are push notifications pushing your buttons?

August 22, 2012
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    You reach excitedly for your phone, which just flashed or vibrated or chirped an alert to grab your attention. What will it be? A new email about that job you want? A text message from the object of your affections? Maybe a Facebook invite to a party?

    No, it turns out that there’s a new music track available in AutoRap.

    Hands up if you’re sick of useless push notifications. I’m going to assume that the majority of you raised your hands, or at least thought about it and then decided it would be pointless because I can’t see you anyway. As Sarah Perez pointed out over at Tech Crunch recently, app developers are abusing push, and it has to stop. The list of potential push notifications is extremely long and only a very small percentage of them offer any value to the user.

    What is it this time?

    Do people care that they have a new follower? Do they need an alert every time someone responds to something they posted? Do they care that there’s new content available? Do they want to know about free trials? Do they want to be pestered for reviews?

    The answer is generally no. There may be a few exceptions, but we’d like the choice to dictate what those are. The trouble is app developers don’t always make it easy to turn notifications off. There’s a reason why Android 4.1 Jelly Bean allows you to track and block notifications from individual apps. It’s because notifications have gotten out of hand and we need an easy way to stop them from bothering us.

    More spam

    Email already plagues us with spam. Notifications are like a second layer on top of that. The trouble is that some apps don’t offer an option to turn off notifications at all. If you don’t have Android 4.1 yet then your options are limited. It’s often easier to just deny apps the ability to send push notifications in the first place, but not all of them ask for permission.

    Having to uninstall apps that you would like to occasionally use, simply because they won’t stop spamming you, is a real shame. This pointless self-promotion doesn’t serve app developers. It’s about time they thought about what users want instead of what they want.

    Are you sick of notifications? What’s the most ridiculous one you’ve received? Got any tips for killing them off on pre-Jelly Bean phones? Post a comment.

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    Comments

    • MasterMuffin

      “you have won free ipad 2!!” keeps coming every hour, deleted the app -.- got super nexus rom to my sgs2 so now I can block them :)

    • Michael

      Same. I just delete those apps.

    • eClipse

      I have never seen one, and the second I did, that app would be off the device.

    • http://www.androidradar.de/ Leif

      Usually don’t have a problem with that, but this also seems also be more a practice of game developer than app developer I think. Had a few games who tried that, but this is a good reason to delete them.

    • kippswanson

      No. I disable that garbage on apps I do use (Twitter, etc… I can wait 4 seconds for it to update when I run the app). And if I do inadvertantly install an app that spams the notification area, it gets yanked off the phone instantly. Along with a one star review.

      More people need to do this. It would give developers some serious pause in pulling that.

    • tomn1ce

      Like everyone else below me. The second I get an add, I hunt for that app and delete it from my phone. Those apps are really annoying. The other notifications I can live with.

    • Zaeem Shahzad

      I’m in a pickle. I want to occasionally play Samurais vs. Zombies but it gives me push notifications which are really annoying. If it weren’t such a great (and free) game, I’d uninstall it straight away.

    • jangeloracoma

      My phone’s pretty lean in terms of apps that notify. But my two daughters’ phones are always getting notification spam with all the free games they’ve been installing. It’s getting out of hand!

    • Fahima A

      Most notifications are better disabled. From social networks there is only an illusion of need to know. It mostly results in a waste of time.

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