Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

“Like a Fire Alarm”

Shawn Blanc:

…[I]t’s a bit annoying when an incoming message causes all my devices to beep. […]

It’s not just iMessages either — it’s also reminders and calendar notifications. As I said in my calendar-centric interview with Lex, when an event reminder goes off at my desk, it’s like a fire alarm.

I’ve noticed that Messages is better at detecting activity on a specific device and trying to send the notification to the active device first while delaying others, but everything else that makes noise is still a bit “dumb” to other synced devices. My calendar syncs to my Mac, iPhone, iPad, and another Mac that I use as a local web server — four notifications for the same event is pretty hilarious, I guess.

This is such a challenging problem to solve, though. It sounds easy to detect activity on a particular device and delay notifications to other devices connected to the same account, but it’s awfully hard to execute. Consider that a device may be actively used, but the app in question may not be in the foreground, or the user may not take action on a notification. I know that I frequently let things like calendar notifications slide away without opening the app.