Skype just announced a great new feature that should be part of every single app, plugin or digital service you use: When you’re actively Skyping, the app’s notifications will only go to the device you’re currently using. Why didn’t this kind of setup become a universal standard, like, five years ago?
This update solves a problem you likely endure pretty much every time you sit at a computer: Email, chat, and social media notifications being delivered to your laptop, your tablet, and your phone, all at the same time. That’s great when you’re not using the app in question. But if I’m already signed in to Gmail on my computer, and I’m already looking at a pop-up notification for a new email, do I really need my phone (which is probably right next to my laptop) and my tablet (which is probably next to my roommate’s elbow on the couch) buzzing/honking/dinging with the exact same information?
The folks at Skype, blessedly, see the folly here, and have taken steps to solve this 21st century annoyance.
If you are signed in to Skype on multiple devices (a laptop, tablet and a smartphone) and you are sending chat messages to a group of friends from your tablet. Skype will only send new message notifications to your tablet and not to any of your other devices. All of your other devices will remain blissfully silent. You can continue to focus on the most important thing, your conversations, without being disturbed by the bleeping and buzzing from all of your other devices.
Naturally, if you’re not actively Skyping on any of your devices, you’ll get notifications on every gadget that’s signed in to the service. And call notifications will always go to all of your devices, because maybe you don’t want to video chat on your smartphone when you’re close enough to answer on your laptop.
All of this is so seemingly simple, it makes you wonder why everyone isn’t doing it. Clearly your email, chat, and social media accounts know when you’re logged in and doing stuff. Many of those services have dedicated mobile apps with push notifications and location-based settings. They can see you thumb-tapping away on your smartphone, or merrily swiping on your tablet, or mousing around on your computer. Why are these apps feigning ignorance?
It’s like Twitter’s little birdie is sitting next to you at the bar, watching you tweet, only to go flying out the door to peck on your living room window when someone RTs you.
Thank you, Skype, for ending the madness. And to every other app on the internet: Please take note. [Skype]