It's time to reclaim our notification shades

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: September 30, 2013

So, I've been searching for my next daily driver, but I haven't settled on something quite yet. Normally, my time with devices is pretty quick. I can find things I love about them, with just about every phone I've ever put my hands on, but it only takes a couple of negative aspects for me to ditch it entirely. After all, it's all about the complete package, and if it's not . . . complete, then I just turn to something else.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm fickle when it comes to phones. My friends and close colleagues would tell you I "have a phone problem." And that's true, but I know I'm not the only one. That's why I'm okay with it. Even if it means I'm never settled on one device for too long.

But, I'm actually looking to stop that. It's a hard road to travel down, but it's one that I'm determined to traverse. Wheels down, head straight and eyes focused. Now, it's time to find that right device.

I'm using the Lumia 920 right now, and for the most part I'm actually in love with it. I like the display's size, and I'm actually finding apps that I can use every day. I also had to accept that a lot of the apps I was downloading with iOS, like Vine or Instagram, I just wasn't using all that often. If ever. So while I may be pseudo-missing their presence, I can't be all that dismayed I don't have access to them.

Notifications on Windows Phone still aren't great. Sure, Live Tiles are awesome and unique, but the truth is, I don't like to have a ton of Live Tiles filling up my Start Screen. That's just a lot of scrolling. So, sometimes, I get notifications that I miss and just can't get back again, because all of the Windows Phone notification tones sound generally the same. That's a pretty big strike in my book.

The other strike? The Lumia 920 is a freaking tank. It really is. I've grown to dislike how it feels in my hand when I'm using it day-in and day-out. The display size is great, yes, but the rest of it is a bulbous red slippery shell. That's a pretty big strike.

So that's why I'm still looking. The Galaxy Note 3 is on my radar, especially since it is launching right around the corner, but I can't help but be worried about the notification shade. I know, it sounds crazy, but I've touched on the notification shade in the past. There needs to be some big changes when it comes to notification shades on Android, which could just be handled with some extra customization therein.

Over the last couple of years, we've watched as manufacturers, and now carriers, have systematically worked over the notification shade for their own goal. Even before we get any real notifications, we can see in the notification shade "ongoing" apps, or a laundry list of little toggle icons that make turning on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth easy.

There's no denying that those toggles make life easier for turning on and off those features, but the simple truth is that stock Android has it figured out. Stock Android gives you the regular notification shade, which shows you actual notifications for things, without being messed up by toggles or other "sections" that take up useful room. Just swiping down with two fingers gets you a nice grid of options, while leaving the notification shade alone.

It's certainly one more reason why the Nexus 5 is on my radar, for sure. But I can't help but be excited for the Galaxy Note 3. And I'd be lying if I said I hadn't looked at the G2 from LG more than a few times. But the G2's notification shade is just . . . Not great.

And no, I don't want to root my Android device, or add custom ROMs. So, I've got to fall in love with the device right out of the box.

Anyway, I'm still looking. I'll keep looking until I find the right device for me. Hopefully it's sooner, rather than later. And in the mean time, I think it's time to reclaim our notification shades. At least, give us the ability to turn off or turn on features within our notification shades. That'd be nice.

Do you want more power over your notification shade? Do you think manufacturers, and even carriers, have taken them over in a bad way? Let me know what you think of Android's notification shade situation.