Healthy Notifications

I keep my iPhone in my front pocket. Usually. I don’t feel safe when my iPhone is in my back pocket because I’ve seen or read somewhere that it’s really easy for someone to pickpocket my back pocket. But it’s quite hard to pickpocket my front pocket. That’s what they say, and I agree. Out of habit I put my hand where my iPhone is to make sure it’s there. My jeans has an iPhone silhouette on the left front pocket. Two actually. A smaller one for the iPhone 4/4S and a slightly larger one for the iPhone 5/5s.

I take out my iPhone when it vibrates. One ‘zzz’ is email and two “zzz zzz” is text. I’m fairly sensitive to these vibrations and I’ve gotten so used to them that at times I think I feel a vibration only to realize it’s just in my head.

Deep front pockets. I don’t like pants that have shallow front pockets. I have average sized hands and I want my hands to go all the way in. For some reason jeans and other pants with ‘modern’ designs (the low rises and skinnies) have front pockets made for miniature hands. I’ve decided I will no longer participate in this ball-busting low rise skinny pant fashion trend. I look for deep pockets and have found them in Dockers branded khakis. Deep front pockets are not only comfortable they protect my wallet and iPhone. And even if the rumors end up being true that the iPhone 6 will come in two sizes (4.7 and 5.5 inches) with deep front pockets a 5.5-inch iPhone 6 should pose little problems in terms of comfort and protection from pickpockets.

Once I take the my iPhone out, I read the single notification or flick through all the notifications and if I don’t feel it’s urgent I put the iPhone down on the table. Not back into my deep front pocket. The only time my iPhone goes back in is when I’m walking, and I’m seldom walking unfortunately. By the way, I’ve downloaded a track-my-walking app that’s a pleasure to use. It’s called Breeze. It works with the M7 coprocessor. You should check it out. So, once my iPhone is out in the open my iPhone demands I pay some attention to it. Even if there aren’t any notifications. I don’t exactly know what it is. It’s like a pen: if it’s right there you want to pick it up and twiddle it.

If I feel the need to respond to one or more of the notifications I put my thumb or pointy finger on the Home button and wait for it to unlock. Sometimes I have to reposition my finger and do it a couple more times. And sometimes when I’m feeling a little impatient and sometimes out of habit I swipe and enter my passcode. I know entering my passcode will work the first time. Touch ID is convenient especially when I’m downloading a new app (unless my iPhone self-rebooted while I wasn’t looking in which case I have to enter my extremely long password) but can be annoying too when it doesn’t want to work.

Once I’m in, I do my thing whether it’s reading an email, thumb-typing a reply, thanking someone for commenting on my Instagram photo, seeing who liked and commented on Facebook and liking back the comment and adding another comment, or reading and responding to a text message. Even if I’m efficient it’ll take a while to go through email, Instagram, Facebook, text, etc. I get sucked into Reeder too, my favorite RSS reader app. I tap that and start triaging all of the new articles. I have about 100 old articles I’ve triaged and decided to keep new, but haven’t gotten around doing anything about. I read some of the new articles I think are not important enough for me to read while I’m in my serious reading mood. I get through those fairly quickly, but there’s a lot I leave as new because I need to be in my serious reading mood. I’m not sure what the mood or environment is for sure but I get into the zone from time to time. Many of the 100 old articles are topics that have some connection to what I write on DisplayBlog: displays, technology, design, minimalism, how technology and design and minimalism impact our lives, etc. And for me to get into the writing zone, most of the time I have to be at my desk. There are times I’m in the zone highly caffeinated and at a cafe with lots of background noise, but usually I’m most productive at my desk at home. My 20-year old Scandinavian Designs kitchen table that’s about 20 years old. Dad bought it for me. I remember it clearly. I was a student at Berkeley at the time and we walked down to the local Scandinavian Designs store. I went upstairs to where the office furniture were and he went to where the kitchen furniture were. I was looking at a $99 desk with two drawers and a bookcase. Dad was looking at a kitchen table. He likes sturdy things and this $250 or so kitchen table looked and was and still is sturdy. He likes things that last. It’s taken me about 40 years but I’ve come around to Dad’s way of buying things: buy things that last. I failed to persuade Dad that I needed a desk not a table. The desk I was looking at was more IKEA like and he wasn’t impressed at the workmanship. He won, and I’m glad he did because this desk has been with me 20+ years and is where I need to be at to get into the zone. At my desk is where I am now.

Back to my iPhone. By the time I triage about 30 to 40 new articles in my RSS feed new emails have come in, someone liked one of my Instagram photos, someone liked my comment on Facebook. And I tend to those. Guess what happens next? More new articles in my RSS feed. And it keeps going and going. It’s a death spiral that sucks in your life. There is no end to the possible ways I could get distracted, all on my iPhone.

And you’re telling me Apple is working on an iWatch similar in concept to the Motorola Moto 360 where I expose myself to more distractions?

I can just imagine it now. I have my iWatch on my wrist and the thing keeps going and going on about the fact that I’m near a Trader Joe’s and need to pick up some eggs, that I need to leave now to get to the next appointment, that I have emails, text messages, Instagram likes and comments, Facebook likes and comments, that the weather is going to turn bad, and so on and so on. And these notifications will be right there on my wrist. Instead of holding my iPhone, I’ll have my elbow lifted up, my wrist angled toward me, and will be fingering my iWatch. I’ll be looking like some geeky idiot contorting his finger every witch way until it becomes tedious enough for me to take out my iPhone from my deep front pocket. And then I’ll have my iWatch on my wrist and my iPhone on the table. Great.

Do I want an iWatch like that on my wrist to constantly send me notifications and distract me from my life?

No.

I don’t want an iWatch like the Moto 360. What I want is a smartband or smartbracelet that doesn’t notify me of anything. I want it to be nice. Made of nice materials that feels nice and nice to look at once in a while. I want it to keep quiet but keep taking measurements of how I’m doing as a human being. I want it to take note of the environment. How hot or cold was it? How hot or cold was I? Was it humid or dry? Was I hydrated? How high or deep? Was I breathing well? Was it noisy or peaceful? Was I distracted or focused? Things like that. The iBand or whatever Apple might call it can send all those measurements to my iPhone and my iPhone will send them to iCloud where smart algorithms developed by smart people will figure out cool things to say about how I’m doing in this world. And based on that information I can keep doing what I’ve been doing or do things a bit better.

That’s the type of notification I’d actually like and want.