iOS and Android notifications are a living hell

It starts innocently enough. You download an app, and the app asks for your permission to send you push notifications. Sure, you think so. What harm can come from it? I would like to know when my package arrives or when the burrito is ready. But then you download files more apps, and they all need your permission to send you notifications, and before you know it, your lock screen is full of apps that grab your attention.

Applications are never silent. They are hungry to share. They want you to know that your favorite things are for sale, that you haven’t practiced Spanish today, that your delivery driver is five stops away, and that your preschooler just had a blast — all day, once. Welcome to a place we all live in, a place called notification hell.

We didn’t always live here. For a while, companies like Apple didn’t allow app developers to operate at will with the ability to demand our attention at any moment of the day. They insisted that power should be used for good and not for evil. This didn’t last long. App developers are now allowed to send us marketing notifications for as long as we’ve opted in. And guess what: If you choose to receive any notifications at all, you have subscribed to a lot of them. The call is coming from inside the house now – Apple Promote its services in settings menus And Samsung tries to sell you a new phone… while you’re using a Samsung phone. There really is no place to hide.

The problem is not just the ads. The digital assistants in our phones are trying hard to learn our behavior and predict our every move. Maybe because they are bots, they don’t really understand what is useful and what is not. Like when Siri sees I have a flight on my calendar, so it suggests a shortcut to put my phone in airplane mode. Right after that, it asks me if I want to call the meeting on my calendar: my trip. The road to hell is paved with well-intentioned digital assistants.

It’s not an assistant, but Google Photos often commit media crimes. He’s always learning new tricks, like how to identify a beer or a latte in a photo, and then bothers you to look at how to identify all the photos you’ve taken of beer and milk. She really wants me to know when she finds a bunch of similar shots of my cat sleeping on different pieces of furniture, drawing attention to her, like a dog finding a stick. My brother in Christ took pictures. I know they are similar.

Our operating system developers are not completely indifferent to our suffering; They threw us some lifelines. On iOS, you can get time-insensitive notifications that are grouped into a daily summary and delivered once per day. You can also set up focus modes – the user interface is a special kind of hell – or have some apps quietly deliver notifications unless they’re time-sensitive. But if you do, you have to solve the puzzle first.

Answer these three questions…

Not the most user friendly interface.

I tried this once with Amazon. I thought I configured it so that I only get notifications when the package arrives. I did it wrong, apparently, because my grocery order was kept outside my house for five hours on the night of the Fourth of July. I now let Amazon send me as many notifications as you want.

This sums up our position: we are trapped in an inferno of danger, and there will be no rescue. We have several meager tools on our hands, but the onus is on us to find our way out. Until I figure out the notification settings, I know I’ve been here for a long time. For now, it is comforting to know that there are others with me as well, because misery loves companionship.