In the never ending I’m bashing you because I’m not the one who is supposed to solve the problem series, we’ve now reached the point were I’m publicly going to whine about why keeping count of unread items is important.
Let’s initiate the moaning process by touching on my previous post on iOS notifications: assume that my shiny new iPhone tells me I’ve got a new DM from someone I care about (that actually happens, from time to time!), but it just happens to be that I can’t be bothered to take the time to check it our right now.
A few hours passes, and I have now forgotten about the notification I got on the phone. I fire up Chrome, say a little prayer, and navigate to Twitter and notice that I’ve got a DM waiting for me. That’s kind of hot, because how would I otherwise get to know about this awesome stuff?
Another hour passes, and I’m now on the tube. Looking at my phone, I realize that it is still shiny. Phew.
But wait, it’s not only shiny - it also tells me, through a badge on Twitter.app, that I’ve got one new item that I need to take action on. Did I just get a new DM? Or a mention? Opening the app, I’m gently reminded of that “new” DM I read over an hour ago. Excuse me dear Twitter, but I wouldn’t say that this is news to me.
This is why it’s important to keep unread count state in the cloud; unread counts are basically worthless if they’re not kept in sync. Some players do get it right though - Facebook seems to be using Apple’s push services correctly and hence pushes a new notification telling my phone to remove the badge if I’ve taken action on whatever new items I have on facebook.com already.
But hey, I’ll survive. Even though I would have preferred doing so without having Twitter telling me about yesterday’s news.