One of the biggest things I’m looking forward to with iOS5 are the revamp of notifications (even though they still seem a little feature-light).
I think notifications will be very, very important. Notifications are what will influence user attention to your application in the future. Creating an app is a great start. Getting noticed in the app store is an even bigger win. The end game though will be to capture the repeat user attention by keeping them glued to your notifications.
This of course can’t be done with a web application. Think of what notifications will do to user habits. How much time will a user have left after they check all of these notification? Would a user switch to a browser to check for updates for certain services if an alternative delivered it directly? It’s hard for me to believe. Technology is becoming increasingly on demand, and fast fast fast. Any barriers will quickly sink an application.
It’ll be interesting what comes out of notifications. We talked a lot about the “stream” of information, but that was usually thought of as Twitter or Facebook. Notifications, I’d argue, are even more powerful. This isn’t a stream of just your social circle or news, this stream is (potentially) much more dynamic and functional. Edit: Just thinking back to history, Facebook wasn’t really Facebook until it adopted a “news feed” approach. Lots of people hated it, but it then started to take off to the point where it became addictive. Could push notification have the same effect or personal devices?
Side Note: I’ve written about this before, but what I really want is an intelligent assistant. An intelligent assistant understands me, knows what I want, knows my habits, knows my friends, but also knows what I don’t know but would to know. This is the holy grail for a personal device. Notifications are a digital assistant to a certain degree: different applications know certain things about me, and what I want to know about their specific service, and it would deliver it directly to me. I just don’t know how if a ordered list of unconnected notifications would qualify as an “intelligent” assistant.. but we’ll have to see.