Consumers today love data-driven apps that deliver contextual information personalized to their needs and preferences. In most cases, such apps still require consumers to navigate to the page where they had installed the app, to open the app and interact with it. However, this approach of app interaction is fast becoming obsolete. Notifications are now on the verge of ruling smartphone interface.
In a way, it has been imminent for quite some time now. Notifications are already the way consumers know that they have a message or an email, without having to fire up an app. Driven by such experiences, the need to navigate through a screen full of app icons to open an app and experience it, doesn’t appeal much to consumers these days. They want a centralized experience where apps merely sit in the background and keep pushing relevant content forward. In this blog, we will discuss why notifications are the way ahead when it comes to app design.
1. Emergence of beacons and other messaging apps
Beacons with their proximity detection capabilities can directly push contextually relevant content in the form of notifications to the lock screen, thus allowing consumers to interact with apps without having to open one.
Another important aspect here is that, of recent there has been an advent of messaging apps. For example, early this year, Wut, an ephemeral short-form messenger that uses notifications to deliver anonymous messages revealed itself to the public. And while the press mostly focused on the anonymity aspect of this simple app, very few people noticed the truly interesting part about Wut- it barely has an app interface. With just a text screen on a fluorescent background, it is the notification centre that acts as the interface in Wut.
2. Launch of a number of screens and wearables
In a world where more and more screens are being introduced every day (especially wearables), it is highly crucial for content to be broken down into atomic units ( including content and action) so that it can work agnostic of the screen size or technology platform. Such units of content make it easier for users to consume and interact with content on different screens. Going ahead, notification centre will be the primary interface used by consumers to interact with apps. Designers will soon be spending more time creating amazing atomic units that will allow users to consume content and interact with them with ease.
3. Recent changes in iOS and Android notifications
While Android already has interactive notifications, with the advent of iOS8, Apple too has raised the bar by taking notifications from being mere sign posts that take you to apps, to notification cards that contain both content and actions. And the next version of Android will take this even further by breaking notifications into independent cards that stack below each other. In other words, very soon, users may not even be required to open an app in order to interact with it.
4. Perfect solution to the app discoverability problem
Currently most businesses rely on advertising or App Store promotion or deep in app linking to get discovered. With notifications as the primary interface, businesses can push their app’s content to appear as a card (in the notification stream of users) embedded within another parent card.
This concept is already in works in apps such as WeChat and Baidu Maps, where smaller apps are now being bundled within bigger apps, only to surface when some interaction in the UI invokes the smaller app. For example, in Baidu Maps, you can find a cinema, check seat availability for different shows, and make a booking, all inside the app. This merely flips the functionality upside down: while a taxi app in the U.S will have a map embedded in it, in Baidu the map itself has restaurants, cinemas, taxis and other relevant services embedded in it. This allows businesses to achieve a wider reach by opening their doors to new audiences.
Going ahead notification centre will be the most important screen on a user’s mobile device as it allows them to interact and stay on top of different types of content that is relevant to them from one place.
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