Be more like Android: How Apple can fix iOS, CarPlay alerts

Android provides a model for Apple to use in iOS, and Apple has an option for CarPlay that should get wider use and be copied by Google

Be more like Android: How Apple can fix iOS, CarPlay alerts

When you’re sleeping, driving, or in a meeting, you want to know when your house alarm has tripped, but not that someone posted to Facebook or send you an email.

If you use an Apple device, you don’t get that choice. That means you will likely miss urgent alerts. Apple can and should fix this behavior, ironically by taking the approach Google already has in Android.

iOS’s Do Not Disturb mode setting for iPhones and iPads silences alert sounds and vibrations, and it keeps the screen turned off while the device is locked (both from lack of recent activity and when you explicitly lock it by pressing the Power button).

You can set Do Not Disturb to let specified callers through (based on their group or if they call twice in a row), for urgent calls from friends and families that occur overnight. But you can’t do the same for specific apps, like the security- and safety-oriented apps that come with sensors in your home, from your alarm system to your smoke detectors.

Google’s Android does let you override Do Not Disturb mode on a per-app basis in its notifications settings. Apple should do the same for iOS.

Ironically, Apple sort of already does this—but only for CarPlay, its dashboard interface for vehicles. A small number of Apple apps—Calendar, Reminders, Phone, Messages, and FaceTime—have the Show in CarPlay notifications option in Settings. That is, they’ll send their alerts to your car’s dashboard, where you can have Siri read them aloud and, in some cases (Phone, Messages, and FaceTime), reply via voice.

iOS and Android notifications override controls IDG

At left: Android lets you override Do Not Disturb settings on a per-app basis, which iOS should do too. At right: iOS lets you enable CarPlay alerts for some apps, which it should expand to include security and safety apps and that Google should implement for Android Auto.

With CarPlay, Apple is trying to be careful in keeping drivers focused on driving. That’s a good thing. But if it’s OK to alert you that your next appointment is coming up soon, it should be OK to alert you that your smoke detector went off, that your home alarm went off, that your garage door opened outside of normal hours, and so on. In other words, Apple should enable the Show in CarPlay notifications for selected security and safety apps. I’m not suggesting that drivers would interact with such systems while driving, only that they get the alerts as they do for Calendar, so they know to pull off the road and investigate.

Android Auto should also enable alerts for security and safety apps on a per-app basis; like CarPlay, it currently blocks all notifications other than the kinds Apple permits.

If you use iOS’s CarPlay interface in your vehicle, it silences all but a handful of alerts so that you’re not driving distracted. That’s great except when you have emergencies. CarPlay is quite good, so you’d want to use it.

I appreciate that I can be shielded from the cacophony of modern-day alerts we all get while I’m sleeping or driving. But in the process, Apple (and to a lesser extent Google) shield me from important things that it shouldn’t.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.