I have both the WCVB app on my iPad and the Boston.com app on my iPhone. Both are way too chatty when it comes to news alerts.
I’ve allowed these apps to send me notifications, because I do want to get a notification when something major happens. The trouble is, neither one has much sense of proportion about what’s important enough to interrupt the user for. The most recent example was this evening when the Boston.com app sent an alert to let me know that the Duck Dynasty guy was going to stay on television. Really?!? Who the heck gives a crap? Was it worth interrupting me? Emphatically NO. And they’re not quiet little banners, either. The WCVB app plays their jingle, and the Boston.com app vibrates the phone and seems, at first impression, to be an incoming text.
I don’t care if the Celtics won or lost their game. I don’t care if the latest unemployment stats have come out. I don’t care if the Patriots are in the playoffs. I don’t need to know right away if another witness is appearing in the Whitey Bulger trial. I don’t need to be interrupted with additional details about the Target data breach. I will find all these things out in due course when I go to check the news, on my own schedule.
The rule of thumb I would apply is, “Would this be worth interrupting a prime time tv show for?” If so, by all means, send the alert. I do want to be notified about something like the Boston bombing, or the Newtown shooting, or some major figure dying, or some immediately pressing weather threat. So a tornado warning for the next half hour? By all means. A winter weather warning for tomorrow? I’ll find out about it in good time.
To be fair to the developers, I don’t know whether the iOS notification frameworks allow messages to be sent with differing levels of urgency. It might help if they could send a notification about the winner of the presidential election with top priority, and the winner of a baseball game with lowest priority. At the current time, I suspect the best that could be done would be to have a user create an account with the organization, and tell them what kind of notifications are desired. But who wants to create another account?
For now, though, I’d settle for a little more discretion in sending notifications.