tl;dr “Android notification settings is less controllable than that of Windows Phone”
Back in 2014, I bought my first smartphone, a Nokia Lumia 1020, powered by Windows Phone 8 (if you didn’t count Nokia E72 with Symbian S60v3 as a smartphone). Windows Phone 8 have notification features, but it was just a toast and will be gone after a while. So, the way to check your phone real “notifications” is to go into each of the apps to check for updates (but it will be indicated at apps’ Live Tile). It was not long before my phone OS was upgraded into Windows Phone 8.1, where the toast notifications are collected at Notification Center until it was dismissed by the user.
But I was not a fan of notification.
For me, notifications are distractions. It made you wan to check the apps immediately. Even after you saw them but didn’t dismiss because it will be important to take action later, it creates some sort of anxiety for you.
Hence, I disabled all apps notification, except for some. It was quite troublesome actually to go into each and every apps’ notification settings and turn it off. Once you disable the app notification setting, depending on the level, some of them will still able to show up at Notification Center, but won’t distract you with a toast notification.
One great thing about Windows Phone, I noticed, is that, after 2 weeks, if you didn’t open an app, the app loses the “permission” to send you a notification (and it will be “regranted” if you decided to visit the app again). Hence, for apps that you installed but didn’t interact after a while, they will lose this ability to send you notification.
With this apps whitelisting mode that I create, I was able to check my phone less. My whitelisted apps includes:
- Phone (phone call): It’s obvious that you want this.
- Message (SMS): This is also important.
- Calendar: To remind about meetings
- Mail: Arguably not really useful, but sometimes was useful if you’re expecting to hear some email reply. Even so, I will set it to only show silently at action center.
- WhatsApp: Oh well, this is the main distraction of myself, but I made it to only send silent notifications.
That’s it. If I remember correctly, nothing else was whitelisted. And I live a more peaceful life ever since :P (not really, it’s just a life that’s less distracted by phone)
And then came the switch to Android.
At March 2017, I switched to an Android phone, a Samsung S7, and it felt less great in terms of having control of the phone. For starter, it felt much troublesome to get into each and every apps’ notification settings as if it was discouraged (because it was much slower to populate the list of apps and each time after going back from individual app setting, apps list will go to “loading” state again). After I managed to turn off all apps’ notification (except for some, like mentioned above), this settings didn’t apply to all kinds of notifications, and sometimes, it could be confusing to decide which toggle is for what. For example:
- For Facebook, app I had disallowed any notification permission, but the notification counter badge (at apps list) kept showing, and there is no way to turn it off.
- Lock screen notification (not sure what’s the correct name for it), but apparently, since I gave WhatsApp the permission to notify me (and I ticked the “Show Silently” option), when my screen was off, it wakes the screen up and shows a notification at the lock screen (and it can be annoying, given that it does not silently show up. (or maybe my definition of silent is different from theirs; silent, for me, is the absence of noise, including visual distractions like this)
- Sticky notification. Apparently, for some kinds of apps, e.g. music player, where you can control from action bar, you need to give notification permission to it. Meaning that, it could “nudge” you anytime they like, right? But luckily, the music player that I used didn’t do this.
- Badge notification at top of screen. Unfortunately, the “data usage counter” app that I use, which shows a sticky notification, sometimes will show up an annoying badge at top of screen, telling me to open their app to dismiss an alert.
So yeah, right now, the state of notification at Android is less controllable than that of Windows Phone.
Oh well, what could we do?
I’m not sure. As Android is based on a FOSS Operating System, I actually expect this state to improve to give users more control of notification permission settings. But for the meantime, I miss my dead Windows Phone phone.