Idea: Notification Center in the Cloud
Let's be real. When you have more than one iOS device or Mac, Notification Center starts to show a lot of shortcomings and room for improvement. This is what the experience is like when using multiple devices with Notification Center:
- An new incoming notification for an app that's installed on multiple devices means multiple alerts, even though it wouldn't be difficult for Apple to know what device you're actually using, so that you avoid annoying and unnecessary double buzzing and sending alerts to devices that you left at home.
- Tapping or clicking on a notification on a device doesn't remove that notification from Notification Center on your other devices. Clearing notifications for a specific app doesn't dismiss them from Notification Center on your other devices either.
- After a while, you freak out!!! Well, not really. But you begin to wonder how it could be better.
So, my idea is:
- Move Notification Center into iCloud. Create an "Ubiquitous Notification Center" that exists for each iCloud account, not each device. I know some people won't like this for privacy reasons: make it optional, just like everything iCloud. But do it.
- Instead of pushing notifications to specific devices, let apps push notifications to iCloud users. Apps already can identify the same user across devices via the iCloud APIs, even across iOS and OS X, so this shouldn't be at all difficult.
- Once I tap/click on a notification to launch the app or I choose clear it, it's gone from Notification Center in iCloud, so I don't see it anymore on any of my devices. No need to dismiss a notification once per each device.
- Figure out a way to integrate Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Messages, Reminders, etc. into this new system. Shouldn't be difficult either. Do Not Disturb could be integrated as well. Ideally, Messages should be made so that you are able to send and receive messages from all devices, with iCloud routing them through your iPhone, for added functionality and consistency.
- Local (non-push) notification triggers should be synced to iCloud and cached on your devices in case they are offline at the time they are set to occur. Or not. I'm not sure on this one.
- Be smart: try to figure out what device I'm using and only send the sound alerts to that device. A simple logic could be: if my iPad or Mac is unlocked and I'm interacting with it, the alerts should go there. Otherwise, buzz my phone.
This would have a really cool side effect, too: you would be able to see notifications for apps that you have installed on other devices, from any device. In this case, Apple could make it so that if you try to follow those notifications offer you to download the app (if a version is available for the device you're using, of course). EDIT: some commenters don't like this, so it should be optional. If you don't want to enable this, Notification Center would just show the notifications associated to apps on the device you're currently using.
Finally, I know this issue also applies to other platforms, and it would require some restructuring of the current notification system and support from third-party app developers. But if Apple can't do it, who can?
What do you guys think?