Manage Smartphone Notifications More Effectively With This New App

Fagjun | Published 2017-03-24 07:31

Ever wish your smartphone would just leave you alone for a second?
[Photo by Mark Solarski]

You can soon manage smartphone notifications with an app that can learn when and where you can best be interrupted.

Most of us have a lot of apps on our smartphones. These apps can generate several notifications in a day, most of which aren't all that urgent. Some aren't important at all. You don't need to fish your phone out of your bag just because one of your games decided to notify you about something completely inane.

However, checking our notifications is something that's almost irresistible to do. After all, what if you had received a message or an important email? The problem is that a lot of the time, the notifications you receive aren't urgent and don't warrant your attention right then. There are times when you can't tell how important the notification is unless you check your phone.

The Most Effective Way to Manage Smartphone Notifications

There are already some apps that can help users filter notifications. However, these apps can't take all kinds of situations and preferences into account. Some notifications are important, so a user may want to receive them regardless of the situation. Ideally, a system can distinguish urgent from non-urgent notifications.

You therefore need to manage smartphone notifications in such a way that they won't bother you needlessly. Researchers at Rutgers University have developed an app that can learn your personality and predict when you can pay attention to phone notifications. You will thus only receive non-urgent notifications when you want to.

Ironically, the app learns about the user's personality and habits through its own notifications. No worries, though; these notifications will only occur during the app's four-week learning phase. The researchers gathered volunteers that can test the app's effectiveness. At certain points during the day, the app will ask the user to rate how interruptible they are at that particular time. The app can also gather data on the user's movements and location.

Predicting Interruptibility

This learning period enables the app to figure out when it's best for the user to receive notifications. This way, the user can manage smartphone notifications according to their ideal preferences. To see how effective the app was, the researchers compared its predictions to the level of interruptibility that the user reported. The researchers found that after about 16 days, the app was able predict the user's interruptibility with a 75% accuracy.

While each user has a different set of preferences, volunteer users generally prefer to receive no notifications while shopping. According to the researchers, volunteer users with the same personality type had also similar preferences. By taking these personality types into account, the researchers were able to make the app's algorithm more accurate by 10%.

Can you imagine a world wherein you don't have to stop what you're doing and take out your phone every time it beeps? Soon, you may be able to customize your notification filters as closely to your preferences as possible.

The research team is set to present their study and the app's results at this year's ACM Computer-Human Interaction Conference (CHI).

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