iOS7 and the Need for Smart Notifications for the Pebble

I’ve been wearing and using my Pebble a lot more since they announced support for a broader framework of notifications with the release of iOS 7. I was excited to learn that I’d be able to get notifications from a broader set of applications as I thought it would make the watch more useful and interesting. Thus far, I’ve had a mixed experience with the new notifications. The problem is that I get too many notifications – I get every notification that I normally get on my phone on my watch. There is a way to tinker with this via settings, but it requires me to change the way I handle notifications on my phone as well – I don’t really want to change those. I want to change how my Pebble determines what’s worthy of an interruption and what isn’t.

When I first got my Pebble I thought I wanted a phone on my wrist. I thought I wanted something that would largely replicate my phone experience but in a wrist form factor. The more I use it, the more I realize that I don’t want something that replicates my phone on my wrist. I want a very smart subset of my phones features on my wrist and I want that wrapped in some intelligence about how and when to notify me about something new.

I wonder if Pebble (or someone in the app ecosystem) will end up making a smart notification manager that handles this much better. For people who do not have many notifications enabled on their phones, this is not much of a problem. But I have a lot of apps and a lot of notifications that I actually find useful. I think there is an opportunity to build something that handles this more elegantly than a blast firehose.

I also wonder if the major hardware companies who are investing in smart watches, namely Google, Apple, and Samsung, will use their smartphone footprints to make notification management work natively for their vertical stacks. I would like to hope that the iWatch, GWatch, and Galaxy Gear will have smart notifications managers that can differentiate between what I get on my phone and what goes to the watch.

Ironically, the deluge of notifications that I get now has made me acutely aware of the kind of notifications that I don’t get but would like to get. For example, I’d love it if my Pebble + phone combination were smart enough to know that I am in a meeting and either switch to silent mode or only disturb me with a buzz if the incoming item is pertinent to this meeting or the next or is truly an emergency. Also, I have no need to get notifications that are not actionable on my watch.

As always, comments are open. You can also send me a message on Twitter @chudson to share your thoughts.

  • Tim Rosenblatt

    That’s disappointing, but makes sense given that the product people in the category are still just doing R&D. One of the top use cases of a smartwatch is displaying notifications. Based on what you’re saying, there wasn’t any effort put into one of the top use cases. If there’s that little refinement of what seems like a key feature, it suggests that the people making it don’t understand why they’re making the device in the first place. :)

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