How Apple can solve the multiple iMessage alert conundrum

If you’ve taken advantage of iOS 5’s iCloud functionality, you understand how much potential is on tap. iCloud coerces all all of your iOS devices to stay in sync; at least that’s the theory.

While the potential is certainly there, iCloud still has a way to go before all of its issues are ironed out; though I definitely commend Apple for being gung-ho about its rollout.

One of the main issues that I’ve personally experienced — and no doubt countless others share similar sentiments — is with iMessage. More specifically, since iCloud can sync every iOS 5 device you own, all of your devices alert you when you receive a new iMessage.

Now I know; why not just disable alerts altogether for all but one device? Well, there’s a number of reasons why I would not want to do that. The main reason being is that you shouldn’t have to select one feature over another. iCloud is meant for convenience, and taking such a step would certainly be a leap backwards.

Instead, let’s examine a more proactive approach — utilizing the iPhone’s built in technology to solve the issue. That’s exactly what we tried to do. Introducing our solution to the multiple iMessage alert conundrum — Alert Priority.


We first came up with the idea of Alert Priority during our inaugural iDB podcast. We were all discussing how annoying notifications were, and I mentioned the fact that whenever I receive an iMessage it comes to every single iOS device I own. Trust me, if you’ve yet to experience that phenomenon, believe me when I tell you it’s incredibly annoying.

Needless to say, Alert Priority is an idea that we brainstormed on the whim while recording our podcast. Since then, we’ve attempted to flesh out the idea and give it some substance.

Here’s how it might work:

  • When a new iMessage arrives, the device at the top of the Alert Priority list receives the notification.
  • If that device is unavailable, the next device on the list receives the notification.
  • This Alert Priority is only valid when the devices are within range of each other, as determined by GPS location awareness. Locations are polled at set intervals to conserve battery.
  • In the above example, only the iPad will receive an audible Notification.

Seems feasible enough, doesn’t it? By the way, the video drawings were done with the awesome Paper app for the iPad. Check out our post on Paper for more details.

What do you think?