One Less Addiction

An iPhone Notification Center Redesign


One Less Addiction is a senior capstone project designed by Zachary Bard.
For more of my work, click here.


My thesis for this project is to give users a more organized notification center which is designed to reduce nomophobia, and allows them to prioritize, arrange, and manage their notifications in the most efficient way possible, all while helping people connect with their technology in a healthier way.  

Home
User Research
Design Process
Pinned Apps
General Tier
Improved Hierarchy
Screen Time
App Limits
Notification History
Lightning View
What’s Next?




Introduction


Abstract

In our current digital age, dependence on the smart technology in our pockets has become increasingly rampant. The number of smartphone users worldwide is forecasted to grow to 3.8 billion by 2021. Over 45% of those people, including me, use iPhones, which are the most popular smartphones in the world. IPhones have a mind boggling amount of functionality, making them an incredible tool in our everyday lives. However, their apparent endless usefulness is also the cause for extreme dependence and smartphone addiction in users, known as nomophobia. My project focuses on the iPhone notification center, and its direct connection to nomophobia in its current state. Through a redesign concept, I have created an updated notification center for iOS which would be compatible with iPhones containing the A11 chip or higher due to its dedicated neural network hardware for machine learning purposes that Apple calls a neural engine. 

Design Problem

The notification center of the iPhone is the first point of contact a user has with their many notifications. Currently, the interface operates as a vertical timeline of rectangular boxes, displaying the notifications received in reverse chronological order, with the most recent notification sitting at the top. In theory, this is a solid design for a user interface. However, when notifications build up, users often become overwhelmed and engage in mindless scrolling down a list containing a plethora of rectangular triggers for addictive and obsessive human behavior. Not only does it reinforce negative human behavior and promote nomophobia, but it also has a detrimental blow to a user’s productivity. In the iPhone notification center’s current state, it is wasteful, unproductive, and inefficient; all while feeding into the pitfalls of human psychology. 
Terminology

Nomophobia: The irrational fear of being without a mobile phone. 66% of adults in the U.S. shows signs of having this addiction. That means 2 out of 3 people likely suffer from nomophobia. 

Neural Engine: The iPhone’s neural engine is where all machine learning tasks are carried out, such as face ID and image recognition, camera saliency operations, predictive work like app predictions or keyboard predictions, speech recognition, natural language processing in Siri, features around health, and much more.

Mindless Scrolling: Platforms such as social media, news, and other apps are designed to exploit natural human behavior, by using behavioral psychology tools such as infinite scrolling and self-loading media, among others. These design choices and tactics deliberately interfere with the users free choice, by keeping their attention automatically focused on never-ending content This produces the highly sought after, and often received, mindless scroll. The iPhone notification center’s current design operates in a similar way, producing the same effect on its users.





Research & Ideation



User Research

To kickoff this project, I began by analyzing my own personal pain points and issues with the current iPhone notification center. I used my own findings, plus research on nomophobia to devise a Google form of both qualitative and quantitative questions that I sent out to people in my network. I wanted to be sure that I was designing for people other than myself, so understanding the user was vital for this project. Here is a sample of some questions:

What functions of your phone cause you to be unproductive when you are trying to focus?
What makes you use your smartphone when you don’t want to? In other words, what draws you to it?
Do you feel the need to check a notification the moment you receive it?
What are some changes or features that would make the notification center more valuable to you?