The other day I received a voice notification that my Amazon order for Vitamin D pills (getting ready for a Portland winter) had shipped and was en route to my home. It was a simple gesture that was also communicated via email. But for someone who sends billions of notifications a day, the voice alert got my juices flowing because it represented an exciting future that’s starting to come into view. After years of science fiction exposing us to the idea of voice-powered apparatus, we finally live in an era where smart speakers such as Amazon Echo, Google Home and other devices (like Apple’s forthcoming HomePod) are at our beck and call to deliver news, music and movies in one moment and then, a few seconds later, change the temperature of our living room. And get ready for more notifications. In November, Amazon revealed that it will now let Alexa Skill developers alert a consumer using notifications, and eventually permit them to build skills that identify individual voices. While the new developments seem to have game-changing potential, the historical evolution of the notifications space deserves mention because the details can serve as a guide to what’s ahead. When the iPhone hit the market in 2007, the info-distribution paradigm for commercial entities started to move away from websites toward mobile apps. Read more here…

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