One more go at notifcations on windows

Another Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 Toast History Concept

I’ve seen a lot of concepts and conversations about notifications on Windows 8 and, yes, it's a very tired discussion. But I'd appreciate your ideas on this. No pictures, as I'm not that clever; but I think the idea works.

While I really like the idea of Live Tiles, I still think something more is needed to fill the gap left by a lack of a unified notification centre. But what I have come to realise is that Microsoft don’t just need to fill the gap; they need to leap over it and add in something that makes it more than a mere ‘catch up’ feature.

The Gap

First, what is the gap that needs to be filled? Live Tiles show info related to that app; but they only show most recent information. That means, if there are two or more pieces of information for the user, at least some of that information has to be left out and so missed. Toasts can pop up any time, but the user may not want to quit the app they are currently using to view the toast they may have missed. The gap is that the user doesn’t know what they have missed and has no place to see it.

The Leap

Current notification centre solutions in iOS, OSX and Android show notifications from apps. I would propose a Windows/WP solution that goes a little further. I propose that the solution is an entire Toast History of the device; notifications from apps and OS messages. This is not a list that needs to be cleared of clutter, but a record of every toast that has appeared on screen that the user may have missed; time stamped and search/sortable. It is not there to be ‘cleared’, but is a permanent record of everything your device has done and when/where it has done it.


Because the Toast History needs to be accessed everywhere across the system, I would propose that it is accessed on WP through a long press of the search button and on Win8 via a second swipe from the right after bringing up the charms bar. This would mirror the Win8 swipe from the left and WP long press back button for multitasking and allow an opening for long press of home/windows button for accessing voice commands.

I would recommend that the Toast History pane slides in from the right in WP, but does not reach fully to the left side of the screen , in order to allow user to see the app ‘beneath’, showing them the app to which they will return once the Toast History has been checked. I would recommend something similar in Win8. Search and sorting of Toast History would need to be easy, most likely through an option box at the top of the Toast History pane.

A simple icon placed by the top right clock (which I would have visible across Win8 and WP, even apps) would show if new toasts had come in since the device was last used.

For me, this provides a different service to Live Tiles, allowing Live Tiles to expand their use for the user beyond mere notification indicators in some situations; music controls, for example. I’m no artist so I’m not showing any pictures of this concept, but I hope the implementation is simple enough to be understood here.

Anyway, let me know your thoughts, if you made it this far through my mountain of text.