My take on the Notification Center Debate
This seems to be a huge argument these days, and any article that The Verge posts about what WP needs in order to catch up to Android and iOS generally involves a notification center. My thoughts follow, which was taken from one of Tom's articles, Now it's up to Microsoft.
I believe, like many others, that Windows Phone would benefit from a notification center ("NC"), and the addition of a NC wouldn't hurt anything or anyone. Don't want to use it? Great, don't use it. But for all of the users who DO want to use it, and there are many, adding one is a priority.
Yes, there are ways for WP to notify its users. The lockscreen can show notifications from 5 apps, and when the screen is on, you get toasts and Live Tiles notify you in various ways on the Start Screen.
But that approach, to me at least, is a bit scattered. Case in point:
Let's say that I haven't picked up/used my phone for a bit and want to check for any missed notifications (e.g. after waking up, after a movie, after dinner with a group of friends). On WP8, I turn my device on and the 5 apps I chose to be on the lockscreen tell me if there are any notifications. Obviously, this would likely cover the most important apps like missed calls, SMS, VM, email, and maybe a social network like Facebook. But what about my other apps?
I swipe to unlock my device and I'm presented with my Start Screen with any apps that I have pinned. Now, the way I've always used WP, iPhone, and Android is that I like to "pin" my most used apps, widgets/Live Tiles to the "main screen". So that means that my main apps, such as SMS, Phone, Email, Facebook are at the top of my Start Screen since I use them the most. Great. But I already know which of these apps have notified me because they were on my Lockscreen. So, problem #1 surfaces, where I have information and data redundancy. I then scroll through my list of Live Tiles to see which app has notified, if ANY have notified me. Problem #2: I'm HUNTING for a notification that MAY OR MAY NOT EXIST. This to me is a big problem. I'm wasting time if I didn't get any other notifications, but I need to spend that time in order to verify whether or not additional notifications exist.
When you throw in a notification center, that alleviates a multitude of problems. I'll just use Android as an example since they have a mature notification center; I turn on my phone and I immediately see all of the apps that notified me thanks to the ever-present Notification Tray. One swipe down on the Notification Shade and I see more detail. I can easily see when the app originally notified me, and in cases that makes sense, the number of notifications per app, the sender (SMS, Email, Calls, etc.), and subject (email). Notifications are organized, ready for you, and presented to you instead of you hunting around for them. And that's key. That's why a notification center is useful. That is why this is such an argument; because many people DO want a unified NC.