In the last few days, two different independent projects have gained traction to solve one problem: collecting notifications into one central location on Windows Phone. While no third-party answer could be as elegant as some of the concepts, the two solutions — NotifyMe! and Unification — look worthy enough to actually fit the bill for now as long as each can get 3rd party app developers on board.
Let’s kick things off with NotifyMe!, the brainchild from Ohio University computer science student Alex White. If we were to boil the concept down to its essence, it’s basically just another Windows Phone 8 lockscreen app which periodically pushes a new image. However, what’s included in that new image is the clever part: notifications.
As you can see in the demo video, new notifications appear on the lockscreen in a customizable banner (similar to a toast notification). You can choose to display up to five notifications on your phone’s lockscreen, plus it bundles in Facebook and Twitter support so anyone can download the app and just use it for that if they like. The real goal is to get 3rd party developers to opt-in to the service, which promises to be “just a few extra lines of code” to make it happen.
Developers interested in supporting the project with their app can check out the free public API, and as an added incentive the NotifyMe! app will feature any apps that support the functionality which could potentially drive more downloads. Like we said, pretty clever.
However, there is already some friendly competition from an extremely well-established Windows Phone developer: Liquid Daffodil’s Unification. They of course develop Outsider, glƏƏk!, Locksider+, and other innovative apps for Windows Phone, and all of those projects will soon have each of their notifications aggregated inside Unification. That selection plus WPCentral’s popular app adding support for the service at launch should give a nice momentum boost to get the project going.
Much like NotifyMe, the Unification system is open and free for developers to access. Liquid Daffodil also promises it only takes one line of code to implement, and that the system is encrypted. Unification is also a cross-platform affair supporting Windows Phone 7.x, 8.0, and Windows 8. The only downsides we see to the app is that it’s just an app, with no other way to view notifications from anywhere else on the phone besides opening up the app each time.
Developers can request more information and enlist their apps in the beta program by contacting Liquid Daffodil at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s evident that these developers see potential in setting up a third-party solution to notifications, and when you think about it the situation isn’t too different from games using services like OpenXLive to offer Xbox-like features for indie titles. When what you’re given isn’t cutting it for people, there’s room for a substitute to come in and grow. Coincidentally enough, these two projects should be an interesting ‘beta test’ so to speak about how the Windows Phone community responds to the idea of a notification center in the simplistic OS. Clearly there’s some interest, and Microsoft should be paying very close attention to how developers and device owners respond once everything is available. We’ll be sure to let you know when that happens.