Father of webOS notifications leaves Palm for Apple

Palm has a stellar, non-interuptive, non-"choose it or lose it" notification system, and according to our sibling site PreCentral.net, the man who designed webOS notifications has left for Apple:

The man who "Invented the non-intrusive banner notification system used in webOS" and also did all sorts of other work for the OS, Rich Dellinger, is leaving Palm to return to his earlier employer, Apple, as a Senior User Interface Designer.

Does this mean iOS 4.x or iOS 5 will be getting better notifications? They've likely been working on that long before now, and who knows what Dellinger will be assigned to, but since notifications remain one of the few sore sports in iOS, we're very much hoping it does and the sooner the better.

And let's top that off by asking what kind of notification system you want to see in iOS? Palm and Android both do it well, how could Apple do it better? Simpler?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Lets hope!
  • I would really like to see some "Apple-esq" widget or notification redesign for the lock screen. The more info I can learn from my lock screen the better, but I would like it in a way that Apple excecutes so well.
  • They definitely need to do something. It can be particularly annoying when momentarily jumping from an IM app to look at something else or when one notification overrides another.
    I imagine Apple will want to do something different to Android and WebOS. Maybe they could use the iOS 4 background app UI so that apps with notifications also appear under the dock and the actual notifications popup in a dialog that looks similar to the homescreen folder popup.
    There are several other things that need to be considered like how to alert the user when in a full-screen app like a game that covers up the normal iPhone UI. Also should notifications that require immediate attention such as VoIP calls remain modal?
    Then there's things like allowing the user to respond inline with the notification like QuickReply when jailbroken. I imagine the Remote Notification framework could be extended to be a 2 way system too, so that even IM notifications, etc could be included to avoid ducking in and out of apps just to respond to messages.
    Oh and also there needs to be a better way to summarize notifications on the lockscreen. Apple likes simple stuff so how about at least copying the app icons with notification overlays to the lockscreen?
  • Anything would be better than the garbage they use now for notifications.
  • All I can say is this is great news and I am 110% cofident that Apple will do some amazing stuff with notifications. It's best to do something right the 1st time rather than to just givethe consumer what they want and it look like crap
  • Nothing but good can come out of this.
  • Why not use the multitasking drawer, and have the apps "jump" up from the bottom like in OSX. Say you have a new text message, let the Messaging icon jump up from the bottom with the badge. One can then open up the multitasking "drawer" and respond.
  • This will make ios4 perfectttttt!!! but how long from now? lol
  • For anyone that has experienced a webOS device, you will know that the notification system is second to none. Android's notification is good, but webOS is great. Hope to see some great new innovation with Apple notifications cause right now they're just frustrating to deal with.
  • This is awesome!!!!
    I emailed Steve yesterday and asked him when notifications will improve.. I think this is his answer to me. LMAO
    I think 4.2 maybe we will see new notifications.
    You know I always say iPhones notifications are horrible but now that I think about it they never really bother me at all. But there could definitely be a much better system.
  • Apple is going to do something more than simply what Palm did. They're going to do what is in Apple's DNA and that's take it to another level. Clearly, webOS leads in notifications hands down. But notifications are nice, but they're nothing unless they're actionable. Apple needs to think through why notifications arrive and what a user needs to do with that notification. This is not revolutionary because business folks work on this problem all the time. It simply has not been though through in the context we're talking about. And remember, this deals with tighter integration of the apps in a way as Jobs stated the other day 'so that you don't have to be a systems integrator'.
    That's the mission. Time for them to step up.
  • All I want is a simple number badge on the status bar. Obviously incoming calls should be modal, but for incoming texts, emails, push messages, whatever, all I want is an incrementing badge in the status bar.
    None of this one or two line item popup tray stuff for me. That'll be just as annoying.
  • Let's go Dellinger, let's go!!!
  • Since being notified while in another app is the biggest notification draw of Android and WebOS, I'm thinking of a thin notification bar that pushes the app up (kinda like the way some ads do) when new notifications come in. It would look something like a hybrid of the Android notification shade and the WebOS notification. Then it could flip thru the different notifications so it wouldn't create a list that would fill up the whole screen.
  • What's scarier is that with all this talent in Palm, what does HP plan to do with WebOS. I mean, the lead UI designer headed over to Google for Android now this. Doesn't bode well for what WebOS might become.
  • @Tallbruva
    Mark Hurd (HP CEO) initially said that WebOS would have a home in printers, as well as tablets, and that HP was more interested in WebOS for that than for smartphones per se. He backtracked shortly thereafter, but it seems likely those initial comments, and the attitude behind it, no doubt spurred some of this exodus.
  • @Shrike. That's exactly what I was thinking. They can use the status bar for notifications. The Reeder app makes good use of the status bar. Maybe apple can do something similar for notifications and maybe touching the bar will expand it to view the message without closing out the app you are using.
  • While switching apps (double clicking on the home button), the dock basically has all the running applications. But the top 3/4th of the screen is basically empty. I'm thinking they could use this space to basically have a line by line item of all the recent notifications. These notification lines would also get a trigger to open up the application where the notification came from. And also something at the status bar telling us to go check the notification page (double click on the home button).
  • Think @TheReptile got it right. Simply redoing a webOS style notification system doesn't befit Apple or help Apple maintain it's lead in inovation. Granted webOS's notification system is 1st class, one day it's dashboard notification bar could be more actionable. Currently it allows you to; view an expanded line of text about the notification, abiliity to dismiss, or provide a quick jump to the application handling the notifaction (ie: facebook, IM, email, etc) which opens a new card utilizing webOS's multitasking functionality. Most importantly as some have mentioned above, this is ALL done unintrusively. Enough about palm, this is about Apple ... The bar is set high, but clearly within reach for this beast-of-inovation known as Apple. IF Apple can provide a robust, more actionable, and unintrusive notification system, that could provide the "revolution" TheReptile is asking for, a leap past palm's current answer to notifications, and further cement Apple place as #1. I Love it.
  • Think @TheReptile got it right. Simply redoing a webOS style notification system doesn't befit Apple or help Apple maintain it's lead in innovation. Granted webOS's unintrusive notification system is 1st class, one day it's dashboard notification bar could be more actionable. Currently it allows you to view an expanded line of text about the notification, dismiss, or quickly jump to the app handling the notifaction (facebook, IM, email, etc.) This is accomplished, most importantly as some have mentioned above, unintrusively. Enough about palm, this is about Apple and their recent aquisition ... The bar has been set, but clearly within reach for this beast-of-innovation known as Apple.  A robust, more actionable, and equally unintrusive notification system could provide the "revolution" TheReptile is asking for. A task obtainable by the ever-proven and very adept Apple. Moreover, it would provide the necessary leap past palm's current method to further cement Apple's place as #1.
  • @Shrike and others. I'm using notifier and lockinfo on a jailbroken phone. Despite all the fantastic new features on iOS4, I'm going to be slow in upgrading unless I can carry these two features over with a new jailbreak or have them replaced by something polished from apple.
    Instantly seeing an envelope or chatbubble in the status bar indicating a new message, and then holding the status bar to see a quick preview (from any running app) changed the way I use my phone to the point where I cannot consider "downgrading" to iOS4
  • @TheReptile:
    Clearly, webOS leads in notifications hands down. But notifications are nice, but they’re nothing unless they’re actionable. Apple needs to think through why notifications arrive and what a user needs to do with that notification.
    Well said.
    Further, the notifications must be selectable in an order the end user wants, without one stepping on top of another. You might want to answer that SMS or Push Email now, even tho some news alert or tweet happened more recently.
    Android's pull-down notifications layer does this, as well as offers the appropriate action(s) by simply tapping the notification you want to deal with. (Tap an Email notification, it opens the email app directly at the account and or message(s) in the notification.
    Further it CLEARS notifications already actioned by other means. (If you ignore the notification, and go directly to the sms or email app, the notification is cleared automatically).
    In this respect Android is even better than Webos. I don't see much Apple could improve on this, simply because this is the proper way to handle this stuff. About all you could offer MORE than this would be user defined prioritization of the listed notifications based on type and source.
  • @GR and Screentoucher
    Yeah, the status bar is way underutilized right now. They'll have to make it a little bit thicker, but the trade off are tappable popups or whatever core animation magic comes up with.
    I'm in no hurry with notifications. I'm fine with nothing but the push badges.
  • I'm thinking we'll see a new notification system on the iPad first as the current system makes the least sense there