I was overjoyed when Apple said they had completely reworked the notification center in iOS 7. Then I updated my phone and actually used it… the joy quickly faded.
It’s now been months and I can officially say, the iOS notification center still sucks. I waited to write this, hoping that I was just overreacting and/or the 7.1 update would address these issues. They haven’t. Here is why I can’t stand it:
I love upgrades, but please don’t take away useful features from an earlier version. Why are the Twitter and Facebook shortcuts gone? I used to tweet or post messages all the time from the handy little buttons at the top of my notification screen in iOS 6. It was a huge blow to my workflow to lose shortcuts. Maybe the notification center isn’t the right place for actions like that, but couldn’t they at least be moved to a more appropriate section (perhaps the new control center tray)?
Less useful features
I’m not sure if this is better or worse: taking a feature and making it less useful. I’m leaning towards worse. The “Today” tab is great in concept, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. In previous versions of iOS, there was a handy weather widget which quickly told you the weather conditions at a glance. Important info like temperature and an icon showing if it was sunny or snowing were easy to read. Now, iOS 7’s notification center replaces this widget with a line or two written about the weather today. It’s not necessarily the current temperature (sometimes it is, but not always, why is that?) and it certainly isn’t as easy to process at a glance.
Same old problems
While made slightly bigger, the clear buttons are still a pain to use. Why must I clear all notifications for an app? I’d love to just swipe one or two things away or maybe the first tap of the clear button shows clear buttons next to each item, allowing you to tap single notifications or all of them. In fact, why isn’t there a master clear button. After your phone has been off for a while (say during a movie) you end up with a ton of notifications from various apps. It’s a little tedious to tap twice for each application’s notifications. I’d like to see one option at the top to “Clear All.” Options are good, and the notification center is lacking them.
On the home screen, a swipe of a notification will bring you to that notification’s app, but once you’ve pulled down the notification center, swiping moves you between the tabs at the top. Why does the act of swiping a notification change behaviors? It just seems strange to change that on something so closely related.
So what would I add? I’d love to see widgets. I’m certain Apple will never allow home screen widgets (at least third-party ones), but why can’t they open up the API for a few notification center widgets. Then we could get a more useful weather widget back, or perhaps a quick Foursquare check-in. The Today tab has a lot of potential and I’d like to see where that could lead with some third-party integration. The larger screen real estate on iPads could open this up to even more innovations. Please unlock it, just a little, and let developers show us what’s possible, Apple.
This one is more notification related in general, not just for the notification center. I want custom alert tones that can be assigned on a per app basis. Some apps use custom alerts but you can’t customize it yourself. Again, Apple, options are good, please let us have some. One of the few things I miss from my old Android phone was the ability to change the sounds of each app’s alerts. Then I knew if it was a new email, a text or just some dumb game trying to get me to play. It’s useful for discerning if it’s worth checking your phone.
I’m pretty sure I remember hearing something about the Mac notification center integrating with the iOS notification center. This seems to have never really come about. It would be useful, however it would HAVE to synch cleared and read notifications across devices. There’s nothing worse than having to clear hundreds of notifications, except having to do that on two or three devices.
What’s your experience with the iOS notification center? What would you like to see added or removed? Sound off in the comments.