Android O has one curiously counterproductive new feature

Hi, what does the white dot on the notification bar mean? Sometimes it is there and than it is gone. It’s to show there’s more notifications than the ones showing in the status bar. It happens when there’s no more room to show the icons of the apps where you have notifications from.

How to Enable or Disable Notification Dots in Android

Android O has one curiously counterproductive new feature

As Ive been getting to know Android Os various elements over these past several months, I cant help but think this particular addition feels more like a subtraction when it comes to user experience and interface optimization. It seems like a more rudimentary method of providing notifications that might have existed before the centralized, streamlined, and easy-to-manage primary notification system came into play. And having it show up now in addition to that primary notification system—one of Androids distinguishing elements since the platforms earliest days—comes across as an odd sort of regressive duplication.

Implementing a home-screen-icon badge that shows a countdown to an upcoming reminder or event, for instance, makes sense. (And some third-party launchers already provide such a feature.) But adding a redundant alert designed to pull you away from what youre doing isnt exactly a productivity-oriented innovation. Imagine how annoying thats going to be when it shows up on icons all across your home screen and beckons you to break your concentration and go open each of them immediately—which you inevitably will do. Its basic psychology.

In a way, its become a bit of a theme for me over the past couple years: figuring out ways to tame the technology around us and make it work for our needs as opposed to just getting in our way. From the second we wake up in the morning, after all, were surrounded by stupendous technology—but by default, it doesnt always operate in a manner that actually enhances our lives.

The good news is that its relatively easy to disable Android Os notification dots on an app-by-app basis: You just go into each apps settings screen, tap “App notifications,” then deactivate the toggle next to “Allow notification dot.” (Update: Theres also a universal option to disable the dots altogether within the “Apps & notifications” section of Android Os system settings.)

(And yes, I realize this concept of notification dots is eerily similar to the icon-based notification badges that have long been present on iOS. And you know what? This wouldnt be the first time that Apples influence has steered Android in the wrong direction and held it back from achieving an optimal user experience.)This addition feels more like a subtraction.

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