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April 13, 2012

Greater control over when to receive push data on iOS

Filed under: Apple,Experiential — admin @ 2:25 pm

Push data is great. I like knowing that my phone will always have my most up to date contacts and calendar information without me having to go in and manually drag down updates from the cloud.

However, I’m less enamoured about receiving emails at all times, particularly work emails. Wouldn’t it be useful if you had more control over when to receive certain types of push data?

What if your phone was able to determine:

  • When you’re at your desk with your mail client open
  • When you’re not at work
  • When it’s the weekend
  • When you’re on holiday (it’s in your calendar)

And what if it allowed you to set a preference for when to receive push data?

A mockup of iOS allowing greater control over when to receive push data

This is a rather quick & crude mockup, and part of me feels that this is such a non-problem but I love the idea of my phone being super smart with how & when it pulls my work emails down for me.

What if my phone didn’t pull emails down:

  • When I’m at my desk with Mail open (I’m getting my emails via Mail — nobody likes getting a ting on two devices when receiving one email)
  • When I’m not meant to be working (I’ve told iCal what my work hours are)
  • When it’s the weekend (weekends come at the end of every week; they’re pretty predictable)
  • When I’m on holiday (I’ve put my work holidays into iCal)
  • When I’m anywhere I’ve told my phone I don’t want to be disturbed (e.g. the cinema)
  • Anytime I’ve told my phone I don’t want to be disturbed

This is definitely a first world problem. Why not just turn off push data when you don’t want it? It’s relatively easy to find within the Settings app and takes but a moment. A bit of a faff, perhaps, turning it off & on each time you want or don’t want it, but a simple solution — that works in iOS now — that solves the problem.

When Scott Forstall demoed the location-based reminder feature of iOS 5, I had a bit of an ‘ah-ha’ moment — this was using the full power of the whole device (the GPS location & contact data) to make something fairly rudimentary (reminders) better for the user. Yes, setting your phone to ping at the time you think you’re going to be home works most of the time, but what if you could tell your phone where ‘home’ is and have it remind you when you get there, regardless of what time it was? Location-based reminders set off a little lightbulb in my head.

Something similar that allowed me greater control over when to receive push data would be marvellous.

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