I can't believe I'm this excited about a notification centerAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
You know the phrase "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?" I think I'm discovering what that phrase really means since switching to Windows Phone 8. My switch hasn't exactly been easy, but it hasn't been bad either. It's been a new experience for sure, and it's nice to have some clear insight on what exactly goes on in a day in the life of a Windows Phone user. The struggle is real sometimes, but there is still a lot to hope for when it comes to Windows Phone 8. Hopefully, a lot of fixes are on the way with the Windows Phone 8.1 update.
Not much has been said about the update so far other than it's coming presumably sometime in April. With the update being less than 2 months away, it's no surprise that screenshot leaks of the update are starting to mysteriously appear in parts of Internet. So when I see this leak of the new notification center, named "Action Center", that's supposed to debut with the 8.1 update, I can't help but get a little giddy because a notification center is probably the one thing I miss most about using either Android or iOS, and while I'm not convinced that it is the only step necessary to fix how people view Windows Phone 8, I do think that it is still a very necessary step nonetheless.
When you don't have a notification center, you realize how annoying it is to have to navigate back to your home screen every time you want to view a notification. Right now Windows Phone 8 employs what they call a "Toast Notification", which is a notification that appears at the top of the screen much like any other platform would. However, if you're not ready to view said notification within a few seconds, you're going have to go back to the Start screen to click on the application to read it because Toast Notifications disappear. Alternatively, you can look at your open apps by holding the back button and getting to the application that way, but it's still just not as convenient as being able to pull down a menu from the top of your screen for a quick preview and easy access to whatever application you need to get to in order to reply or fully view the content.
Another plus of having a notification center is including Quick Settings, which if this recently leaked image of Action Center is any indication of what we can look forward to looks like it includes such a feature. Quick Settings is actually something I was very fond of. Once again, it all comes back to easy access no matter what you are doing or where you are in your phone.
A notification center is a productivity sort of feature that should have been implemented in Windows Phone 8 a long time ago. I can live without a virtual assistant like the rumored Cortana, but a notification center is a feature that most people don't realize they will miss until they don't have it anymore. The Toast Notifications work alright when you are able to immediately respond, but I'm the type of person that sees and forgets because I'm busy with something else. With Action Center, I won't have to search around for that forgotten notification. I can see exactly where the notification came from and a preview of what it's about on my terms. It also shows a list of other unread notifications, all in one organized list. It's something that I never thought I would be excited for, but I really do think that on a productivity level that this will at least push Windows Phone 8 in a more positive direction.
I am excited to see what else Windows Phone 8.1 will bring, which I'm sure we'll see more of as the release date inches closer and closer. For now, I can honestly say I am most excited for the Notification Center, even more than Cortana. I never really did have an attachment to Siri or Google Now, but I used that Notification Center all the time. I'm still trying to get used to not having one at this point in time.
Readers, what do you think about the new Notification Center for Windows Phone? Do you think that this will be able to win people over who have been on the edge of switching? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!