OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Your mobile phone is supposed to be a tool that gives you access to people and information, and has become the primary screen for accessing video. All that’s great, but there’s a parallel set of negative issues as well.
My phone rings as much as 10 times a day, but 75% of the calls are robocalls and spam. I get text messages that are unsolicited. I access email on my phone and the majority of that email is spam. I get alerts and notifications all day and most of them are abused by the publisher or platform that I opted into.
Case in point: If I get more than five notifications a day from the same news app telling me there’s “breaking news,” how is any of it considered important?
My phone is a way to access the world, but it has also become a way for the world to access me. I’m relatively in control of the technology on my device, but my number is a direct line int to me and an invasion of my attention span. It’s desensitizing me and making me question the usefulness of the phone that I carry around everywhere I go.
I don’t really pay attention to notifications in the moment. I rarely answer the phone unless I know exactly who it is. I get annoyed when too many text messages are sitting there awaiting my response.
The carriers need to become more involved in protecting their customers from unwanted intrusions. I read recently that they are starting to wade into the waters and test some new tools, but they really need to dive in and help us. Call Protect is a great step in the right direction and I use it every day, but there needs to be more to block unsolicited robocalls and help clean up the piping for texts and emails.
Spam by itself is probably tolerable and companies like Google have taken steps to help here, so now it’s time for AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile to take a leadership position on this issue.
The cellphone manufacturers could probably help here, too. Apple and Google, along with Samsung and any other companies, should work together to remind consumers about settings for notifications and ensure that app developers don’t overdo the notifications systems. When your phone is buzzing 40 or 50 times a day with new notifications, but you only access a small percentage of the apps on your phone, they could determine if there is a correlation there and help consumers turn off notifications from apps they don’t use.
It’s not about censoring or stopping the apps from being there. It’s about ensuring that the notifications are truly valuable to the user. If they had some tools in place that alerted users regularly and suggested updates to their setting, then users could be more in control of the experience.
Mobile is certainly not going away any time soon, but it does have issues if it continues to decline into a frustrating user experience.
I hope the carriers, the manufacturers and the operating system companies can figure this out. Otherwise, I might be digging out the Treo and the Razr for reintegration into my life!