Instagram Notifications Get Less Annoying With a ‘Quiet Mode’
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Facebook and Instagram notifications warn US users there’s no winner yet in presidential election
Facebook and Instagram are running notifications in their respective apps informing U.S. users that the winner of the 2020 U.S. presidential election has not yet been determined. In large pop-ups appearing at the top of the Facebook and Instagram News Feeds, the notification states that “Votes Are Being Counted” and directs users to other in-app election resources.
Both apps are using the same language for their respective notifications:
“The winner of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election has not been projected yet. See more updates and learn what to expect as the election process continues.”
Critically, Facebook and Instagram have also added a timestamp to the notification to indicate its recency. As of November 4 at 9:57 a.m. EST, for example, the notification read that it was last updated at 9:00 a.m. EST.
The addition of a timestamp is useful not only because election results are still being counted — and will be for days to come, most likely — but also because President Trump prematurely claimed election victory early Wednesday morning before all votes were counted.
Facebook tells TechCrunch it began showing these notifications at the top of Facebook and Instagram feeds shortly after Trump posted to Facebook that he had won. The company also began labeling posts from both Trump and Vice President Biden in accordance with the policies it shared ahead of Election Day, it says.
On Facebook, Trump’s message earned itself a label that reminded users that election night results and final results may differ, but Facebook didn’t otherwise restrict the post.
As we noted at the time of the labeling, Facebook had begun displaying the notifications about there being no projected winner.
Having a timestamp on these posts is also important in the case that either app faces any sort of caching issues that would allow users to see out-of-date data, temporarily, until the app was refreshed.
This was an issue on Instagram yesterday, November 3, when a caching issue led to some users seeing a notification that read, vaguely, “Tomorrow is Election Day,” when in fact Election Day had already arrived.
Similarly, some users may not immediately see the notification appearing at the top of their Feed on Facebook or Instagram until their app refreshes. But there are no widespread complaints about this sort of issue today.
Facebook’s new ‘Quiet Mode’ option lets you turn off the app’s push notifications
Facebook today is launching a new feature called “Quiet Mode” that will allow you to minimize distractions by muting the app’s push notifications for a time frame you specify. The company announced the change as an update on its COVID Newsroom post, describing it as a way for users to set boundaries around how they spend their time on Facebook as they adjust to new routines and to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Facebook, you can either turn on or off Quiet Mode as needed or you can schedule to it run automatically at designated times. For example, if you work from home from 9 AM to 5 PM, you could set Quiet Mode to automatically run during your workday to reduce your temptation to waste time in the app.
If you try to launch Facebook during Quiet Mode, the app will remind you that you’ve set this time aside with the goal of limiting your time in the app, the company explains.
The controls for Quiet Mode will be found in a new section on Facebook where you can view other data about your time spent on Facebook’s platform. Here, you’ll be able to browse charts that show you the time you’ve spent on Facebook on a daily basis, a comparison of your daytime versus nighttime use, and another chart that lets you see how many times you opened the Facebook app each day.
Facebook introduced its first “time spent” charts back in 2018, but their appearance has changed to better match the style of this new “Your Time on Facebook” section, rolling out today. Facebook has also now added more analysis, including new week-over-week trends, the time of day charges, and the chart displaying the number of visits.
In addition, this section will include an option to enable a weekly report that will let you know how you’re managing your time. It will also link to the Activity Log of your own interactions across Facebook, including your reactions, comments and posts. And it will link out to other features that were previously buried in the Settings, including your News Feed Preferences and Notification Settings.
The former is where you designate which people you see first on your News Feed, which to Snooze, which to Unfollow and so on. The Notification Settings section, meanwhile, lets you turn on or off the push notifications and emails for specific updates from Facebook, like new comments, friend requests, tags, birthdays and more.
These aren’t new features, but they’ve been relocated here to make the new section more of a one-stop-shop for managing your time on Facebook.
Today’s changes are the latest in a series of efforts Facebook has made in recent years focused on users’ “digital well-being.”
The digital well-being movement pushes forward the idea that our smartphones and applications weren’t built with the mental health needs of their users in mind, but were rather designed to maximize the time we spend staring at screens. Users, having become aware of the addictiveness of our mobile devices, began to feel more negatively about screen time and their time-wasting apps.
Fearing backlash, tech companies — including Facebook, as well as the OS makers, Google and Apple — introduced more digital well-being features into their platforms. This includes the now built-in screen time controls that allow users to track and limit their time spent on phones and even the time spent in individual apps, like Facebook.
One iOS feature, in particular, may have posed a particular threat to Facebook: a new option introduced in iOS 12 that allowed users to more easily turn off app notifications right from the push notification itself. Apple even demoed how this could be used to silence Facebook’s notifications easily — an effort to redirect this growing negative user sentiment to specific apps on its iOS platform, rather than toward the platform that allowed apps to spam users with alerts in the first place.
Facebook’s response to this iOS feature, belatedly, is today’s launch of Quiet Mode. Instead of having its app notifications turned off entirely from the home screen of an iPhone, the option gives Facebook users more nuanced control. But it also means that Facebook retains permission to push its notifications during the hours Quiet Mode doesn’t run.
Facebook is testing a new “Your Time on Facebook”
– Quiet Mode for a specific amount of time
– Scheduled Quiet Mode
Facebook told me (via @alexvoica) that they’ve been testing it for a few months and will continue to test and iterate pic.twitter.com/7sPDuP4mrL
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) March 16, 2020
Facebook confirms Quiet Mode was in testing with a small percentage of Facebook users prior to today’s launch. It’s the same feature that reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong had spotted in March, in fact.
The feature is now rolling out to more people globally on iOS and will continue to do so over the next month or so, Facebook says. The rollout on Android will begin with testing in May and a broader release in June.
Notivize makes it easier for non-technical teams to optimize app notifications
A new startup called Notivize aims to give product teams direct access to one of their most important tools for increasing user engagement — notifications.
The company has been testing the product with select customers since last year and says it has already sent hundreds of thousands of notifications. And this week, it announced that it has raised $ 500,000 in seed funding led by Heroic Ventures .
Notivize co-founder Matt Bornski has worked at a number of startups, including AppLovin and Wink, and he said he has “so many stories I can tell you about the time it takes to change a notification that’s deeply embedded in your stack.”
To be clear, Bornski isn’t talking about a simple marketing message that’s part of a scheduled campaign. Instead, he said that the “most valuable” notifications (e.g. the ones that users actually respond to) are usually driven by activity in an app.
For example, it might sound obvious to send an SMS message to a customer once the product they’ve purchased has shipped, but Bornski said that actually creating a notification like that would normally require an engineer to write new code.
“There’s the traditional way that these things are built: The product team specs out that we need to send this email when this happens, or send this SMS or notification when this happens, then the engineering team will go in and find the part of the code where they detect that such a thing has happened,” he said. “What we really want to do is give [the product team] the toolkit, and I think we have.”
So with Notivize, non-coding members of the product and marketing team can write “if-then” rules that will trigger a notification. And this, Bornski said, also makes it easier to “A/B test and optimize your copy and your send times and your channels” to ensure that your notifications are as effective as possible.
He added that companies usually don’t build this for themselves, because when they’re first building an app, it’s “not a rational thing to invest your time and effort in when you’re just testing the market or you’re struggling for product market fit.” Later on, however, it can be challenging to “go in and rip out all the old stuff” — so instead, you can just take advantage of what Notivize has already built.
Bornski also emphasized that the company isn’t trying to replace services that provide the “plumbing” for notifications. Indeed, Notivize actually integrates with SendGrid and Twilio to send the notifications.
“The actual sending is not the core value [of what we do],” he said. “We’re improving the quality of what you’re paying for, of what you send.”
Notivize allows customers to send up to 100 messages per month for free. After that, pricing starts at $ 14.99 per month.
“The steady march of low-code and no-code solutions into the product management and marketing stack continues to unlock market velocity and product innovation,” said Heroic Ventures founder Michael Fertik in a statement. “Having been an early investor in several developer platforms, it is clear that Notivize has cracked the code on how to empower non-technical teams to manage critical yet complex product workflows.”
Twitter’s new random notifications are awful and I hate them
About a month ago, Twitter rolled out a new feature that would show you a bunch of random shit in your notifications tab. For example, if a couple of people that you follow liked a tweet, it’d show up in your notifications tab. If someone followed someone else, boom! There it was in your notifications tab. If people you follow start tweeting about the same topic or article… well,… Read More
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