Now that we have access to them, a lot of people are thinking twice about push notifications being a cure-all for our problems. Certainly there are uses for them that will make our lives a little bit easier, but universal application of the technology isn’t all it was cracked up to be. It makes you think a little bit, about why Apple took so long to deliver on the technology. Could they have had a moment of hesitation about it’s implementation on the device, and is it something we really need on our phones? I’m thinking it’s a giant “no”, at least in a carte blanche kind of way.

Let’s stop and think about iTwitter, and their implementation of push notifications. It’s great getting direct messages or “mentions” updated on my phone, but fifty updates every 2 mins is a little bit much to chew on, even for a twitter obsessed geek like me. The aforementioned scenario both illustrates the potential of the technology and the downfall of it all in one swooping brush stroke.

The Positive:

We can get pertinent information pushed to our phones. Could you imagine an application that could be used in family emergency, or even state emergency scenarios? A family member being rushed to the hospital, and a push notification to family members phones would certainly be an advantageous and heralding quality of push notifications. It could quickly become the new emergency broadcast system. Interstate closed? Tornado heading your way? A push notification would excel in this environment.

The Negative:

Do you really want to know that 200 people are currently enjoying a tasty PB & J sandwich while you’re waiting for the subway after a long day at work? Probably not.

After doing some quick research mid post, it seems like MG Siegler over at Tech Crunch had the same thoughts yesterday. He raises an excellent point,

“The problem is that the Push Notification message indicators are not built for heavy use. If you have multiple push messages coming in to you phone, only the latest one will be shown on the screen. And even when you unlock your phone, it’s hard to tell which push messages have come in. Though you can set a badge on app icons to let you know there is a message, if it was overridden by another message, you are forced to open the app to figure out what it was.”

Something needs to be done. We need a log system that lets us go back and read our push notification history in a twitter-like stream. Apple, we’re choking here, and we need something to help us swallow all this information overload. There’s nothing more stressful than being sold on a technology that should help you stay connected, and then have it turn around and create more hassle for you. Don’t we all want applications that are going to help us spend less time doing work, thereby giving us more time to spend with friends? I don’t know about you, but I could use some more time away from work, and not the kind of time away that just means I have more work when I get back.  Technology should make things easier and not more complicated.  Can someone throw me a life preserver over here before I drown in push notifications?

[image by anirudhkoul]