How would you change WiFi notifications?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: September 30, 2012

As often as I can say that I love the changes that manufacturers have included over the years in our favorite mobile devices, the result isn't always a beautiful picture. Whether it's the display, or perhaps not enough cores under the hood, or maybe even a past version of a mobile operating system. Whatever the case, there's always room for something to make someone at least a little unhappy when it comes to their smartphone, especially when they start using it every day.

I've always been intigued by that little detail, actually. You've probably noticed it yourself, actually, especially when you finally get your hands on a device you've been hearing about for what seems like an eternity. You're so excited to finally play with it, to finally call it yours, that you don't notice anything about the device to make you dislike it. Even after several hours with it, you think the handset is the perfect device. Made just for you.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an unexpected featue of the device, or perhaps one that's been missing the whole time, starts ruining the experience for you. Not entirely, at least not hopefully. But it's marred the previously perfect image of the smartphone created specifically for you.

For me, it's WiFi notifications. On some handsets out there, they have become ridiculous. There are other choice words I could use, but we'll stick to that.

A phone notifying you that there's a WiFi signal around isn't new, not by a longshot. It's been aorund for quite some time, and for the most part it's a pretty helpful feature. For those of us out there who don't necessarily always want to depend on our carrier's data connection, syncing up with an open WiFi network is a simple option. Sure, it may be clogged with other users, but it's an option. And your phone notifying you of that availability is great.

When it's handled properly, that is. Because, as we've seen from devices released just this year, it can be handled in a very, very non-functional way. The result? Annoyance. And that will eventually lead to frustration, especially if it keeps happening.

The Samsung Galaxy S III was the first culprit for me. That WiFi notification that's always present on the device's notification shade? Horrendous. Not only that, the device running on Verizon's network actually has a pop-up that notifies you every single time there's a WiFi signal in reach of the device. The kicker? There's no option to actually turn that feature off. Instead, you get three options: "OK," "Always auto connect," and "Not now, remind me later."

That pop-up drove me insane. I like WiFi networks, but I don't need to have them drilled into me.

Sadly, the Lucid by LG isn't much better. There are toggles for settings in the notification shade on the device, easily accessible buttons that just turn a feature on or off. Things like GPS, Bluetooth, or data connectivity. It's missing WiFi, though. Why? Because there's a huge space within the notification shade reserved for the status of your WiFi situation. Connected? Great! That spot will tell you, quite boldly, which network you're connected to at the moment. Not connected? No bother! That space will tell you that you're not connected to WiFi, just so you're aware of what's going on.

It gets worse if you're not connected to a WiFi signal, but there's one around you and you try to open up any application that connects to your carrier's data connection. There's a huge pop-up that appears on the display, asking you if you want to connect to the available networks around you. Sure, there's an option to say no, but if you open up another data-connected application, the pop-up will appear again.

This is not the way to handle WiFi notifications. If anything, if you really, really want to notify the user that there's a WiFi network available in the area, then just put a regular-sized, non-persistent notification in the proprietary notification repository. That's it. Make it able to be dismissed, too. I don't constantly need to be reminded. If I want to connect to a WiFi network, I'll take the time to try and look for one, and then connect when I want. I don't need to be constantly told that there's one nearby. More to the point, I don't need to have the notification shoved in my face.

I want to know how you would change WiFi notifications, Dear Reader. Do you think that they are becoming too "in your face?" Let me know!


Products mentioned