Sorry, I just need to push you away

This is a tale of two pushes. The difference between opt-in and opt-out.

iOS push UI

In the blue corner we have push notifications with iOS. Over time I have been trained to say “nope” when an app asks permission to send me notifications unless everything lines up:

  • I trust them and their brand
  • I don’t think they will get annoying
  • There is a clear reason for them to reach out to me vs. spam.

The problem is that there are often many unknowns. I don’t always know before hand if there will be value, nor will I necessarily know if there will be push notification settings that will allow me to tweak the push experience (the better apps tell the story before asking for the permission of course).

The nail in the coffin is that when the messages start coming in, it is a pain to turn them off. I long to be able to act on the message itself. When an annoying message comes in, let me get right into the settings and give me the ability to toggle off the permission itself please!

This leads us to the red corner and Android. Here push notifications can already be opted in, which sounds presumptuous, but it is baked up with the fact that you can long hold the annoying notification to quickly revoke. As an app developer you get the chance to shine and show the value of notifications. If your first one is gratuitous you may be turned away. You should be aware of this and slowly turn up the gas. Since it is so easy to be revoked, the incentives should be there for the developer to keep doing a good job (although in practice you obviously often see abuse).

Paul’s Push Notification Settings

Not all notifications are equal. I really like apps that allow me to tweak and personalize the notifications that I get, and I hope that we start to see this occur more and more to a point that we start to expect some conventions around it.

Paul Lewis experimented with this via the web push support for Chrome Dev Summit a couple weeks back. The Web doesn’t have conventions here yet, but I hope they start to appear, both in UI within web apps, and within the push notification UI itself.

Push has been critical for re-engagement. It is a way for services to reach your pocket. This connection needs to be respected, and if trust can be garnered the effects are huge. I look forward to seeing how we evolve push and the types of UI we can deliver within push itself.