A chorus of notifications

I’ve been a Mac user for over twenty-eight years. I have always enthusiastically embraced new Apple technologies. I was an early adopter of Mac OS X. I’ve had an iPhone since the first one shipped in 2007. Although I didn’t buy an iPad until two years after its release, I’m on my third iPad. I have two Macs. A MacBook Pro, and a Mac mini. When I’m working from home, all four of my Apple devices are in close proximity. When I’m out working in the field, I may have up to three Apple devices with me. Yes. I am an Apple fanboy all the way! Whether they are willing to admit it or not, most people who own Apple products are too.

As great as Apple’s gadgets are, they can also be a huge annoyance at the same time. When I receive an email, I may get up to four notifications. One from my iPhone. One from my MacBook Pro if it’s open. One from my iPad, and one from my Mac mini. It’s like chorus of small children all trying to get my attention. It’s annoying. The distraction of the multiple notifications hinders my productivity instead of helping it as they are intended to do. Apple has compounded this problem with the introduction of Continuity, a new feature of OS X and iOS 8 that helps your Apple devices integrate more seamlessly. We can turn off the notifications, but how does this help when we always have to remember to turn them back on when we need them?

A few years ago, my biggest annoyance was when I received an email. My iPhone, my Mac mini, and my MacBook Pro would all chime either at the same time, or within a couple of seconds of each other. I solved this problem by turning off the new mail notification sound on my Macs. Since my iPhone is almost always nearby, I will still get an audible alert for. Beginning with OS X Mountain Lion, Macs can also alert us when a new email comes in by displaying a visual notification at the top right side of our display. No sound is needed. But what about event reminders? What about iMessages coming in? FaceTime calls. Event invitations. Alerts from iOS apps. It’s enough to make us want to shut everything off. But that would defeat the purpose of being notified. We want to know when an event happens. Next year, Apple will release Apple Watch. Another device will join the chorus. Visual notifications aren’t really so much of a problem. It’s the multiple chimes and alert sounds that really bug me.

I recently submitted this feedback to Apple. I suggested that they add a new feature to Continuity that would recognize when devices connected to the same iCloud account are all within close proximity. They should add an option in iCloud that would allow us to designate which device should audibly notify us for each kind of event. If my iPhone is near my MacBook Pro, and my iPad, the other two devices can stop giving me audible notifications. This prevents the multiple chimes when an email comes in, or the multiple iMessage or text tones. If my iPhone is not close by, another device takes on the role of giving me audible notifications. Honestly, I’m very surprised that Jony Ive didn’t think of this himself. Apple touts the simplicity of its products, but they fail to recognize that a lot of us will often have more than one Apple device on hand. I hate being nagged by devices whose reason for existence is to serve my needs.

What do you think about my suggestion? Are you also annoyed by receiving multiple notifications for the same thing? Send in feedback to Apple at apple.com/feedback. If enough of us make the same suggestion that I sent in, maybe Apple will add a feature that will help us tame the nagging alerts.

And if they would just let us merge two or more Apple IDs into one, that would be totally awesome. That would be the holy grail. But that’s a whole other topic.