Apple’s Mavericks update released earlier this year saw a host of new features, including an update price (free) that couldn’t be beat. As the iOS-ification of Apple’s desktop operating system continues, one feature is starting to draw the ire of users. Safari notifications is a new feature that can have desktop notifications appear when a website has updated their content. It’s sorta, kinda like an RSS update, but via notifications that appear in the right hand slide-out column on your Mac. For this to work, a website must enable Safari notifications. In doing so, they are required to push a pop-up asking for permission and it’s these pop-ups that are generating their fair share of criticism.
By itself, the concept of push notifications on your desktop seems like a good idea. As a user, I could setup notifications for my favorite websites, much like I do with RSS. Notifications are tucked away, so they aren’t overly intrusive. Having this deep integration with the desktop, it’s rather seamless to see an update via notification and hit up the site.
The way I see it, there are a few problems with the implementation. For one, it requires a website do specific coding on their end. It’s likely that a small percentage of the sites you follow or read are not even offering the option. As a reader, there is no way to add a site. For example, let’s say you are a regular reader of everthingiCafe. We’ve yet to implement Safari notifications, so there’s no way you can utilize this feature without us doing some work on our end. If and when these become more prevalent, you can expect that to change.
What if they don’t? Not all features Apple runs with end up being long for this world. In order for a reader to opt-in, a participating website needs to ask permission to send notifications. This has been pretty commonplace on mobile devices, but for some reason, feels a bit intrusive on the desktop. With Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and RSS, asking for yet another in-road towards readership is either the straw that broke the permissions back or a welcome addition. It’s likely due to the nature of the request, which comes in the form of a pop-up notification. Personally, I’ve encountered them a number of times and dismiss them. Within the Safari > Preferences > Notifications, you can see a list of who you’ve allowed or denied. You can also make adjustments with relative ease.
I don’t fault websites for picking this up and at some point, you may see it here on iCafe. It’s a big feature, one that is baked into Apple’s OS. Most regular folks don’t bother with RSS and social network streams can be clogged with content, reducing the importance of your article. So these types of notifications are probably incredibly effective at generating repeat visitors. If there is fault, it’s with Apple. There should be a way for customers to opt-in, without the invasive pop-up invite and without sites have to add special code. Until that time comes, these seem mildly annoying, but still put you in control. For sites you frequent often, this seems like a better way of keeping you updated.