Notification shades need more customization options

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: August 16, 2013

Notifications have come a long way over the years. They've evolved from simple beeps and displayed numbers, to some of the most advanced parts of our phones. Notifications are no longer a simple name and a line of text; depending on your mobile platform of choice, there's a lot of detail that can be included.

Admittedly, I think we have to admit that a lot of those changes that we've seen over the years are thanks to Google's Android. Not that that's a bad thing, obviously. But for those who aren't Android fans, we have to give credit where credit's due. The Notification Panel and Shade have done the world of notifications for our smartphones a ridiculous amount of good.

Just look at iOS. There's no doubt in my mind that Apple's mobile platform had the worst notifications for a smartphone for  a few years after its debut. Those huge blue boxes that popped up right in the middle of the screen, interrupting everything you were doing? Terrible. But, iOS's notifications have gone through a major overhaul, and while they may not be perfect, they're certainly better than what they used to be.

Then again, Android isn't perfect, either. Not in its most popular skins, anyway.

The Notification Bar/Shade has become a popular place for device manufacturers to shove extra things into. The Bar, which sits at the top of your Android display at all times, isn't necessarily all that cluttered (unless you turn a bunch of things on, like NFC), but once you drop down the Shade, there's a strong possibility that you'll be confronted with all sorts of different options and toggles.

Now, let me just say that I like that you can drop down that Shade and gain access to things like Airplane Mode, or screen brightness and things like that. That's great to have that easy access. However, things get out of hand when you throw in the "Power Saver" notification, especially when you can't remove it! The "Ongoing" section of a TouchWiz-based Android device is usually quite busy, and that's why I think it's time for another change.

Apple made a good move with Control Center. They kept the Notification Center built around notifications, from your calendar events to the weather, and left out all the quick toggle options. Just a quick slide up from the bottom of the display brings up the Control Center, though, where you can find the same quick toggle options, like activating or deactivating Bluetooth, along with plenty of others. It's a good idea, but, again, it could also see a change before it's officially launched into the wild next month.

Customization.

Yes, you can customize the quick toggle options on a TouchWiz device, but I mean something more than that. Just turning things off and on isn't good enough anymore. I want to be able to customize the location of those quick toggle options. Moving some to the bottom of the Shade, for instance, and freeing up some of the room at the top. Being able to remove those persistent notifications, too. I'd give anything to be able to get rid of those on a stock device, without having to root my handset.

And then there's Apple's Control Center. I'd absolutely love it if I could change what quick toggle options were listed therein. While the current options are great, I don't necessarily always need a quick access to the flashlight, or even the alarm/timer. I'd like to be able to change those up, as well as the quick toggle options at the top. I'd like to be able to remove the AirDrop options, and be able to slide all the options around, to better fit my desires.

Asking for more customization options within iOS may be a lesson in futility, sure, but when it comes to Android, I should have more options. I see the Notification Shade as some sort of dumping ground for manufacturer's, and that has to change. Last year I asked you if you thought our notification shades were getting too cluttered, and that hasn't changed as far as I'm concerned. In fact, given there are more persistent options that just won't go away (no matter how hard you try), I might say it's actually become worse.

How do you feel about your Notification Shade/Bar/Center? Do you think they'd be better off with a bit more user customization? Would you like to be able to remove some of those non-removable notifications? Or do you think they're perfect just the way they are? Let me know!

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