Facebook’s attempt at a real-time, notification-based news app is shutting down. Recently Facebook sent an alert to users telling them “Thanks for using Notify. We’re transitioning parts of Notify into other Facebook products, and the app will no longer be supported.”
Facebook launched Notify in November, allowing users to select from over 70 publishers that they wanted to send them news notifications. People would receive short summaries they could click through to view full news articles. But within days, it seemed like most people had forgotten about the app, and Facebook never really talked about it again.
Facebook says “we will begin integrating Notify functionality into other Facebook products, like Messenger, and will be removing Notify from the App Store. Since launching Notify, we’ve learned a lot about how to make notifications as timely and relevant as possible and we heard from people using the app that Notify helped them stay informed about things they cared about throughout the day. With more than 900 million people using Messenger each month, we think there is a great opportunity for publishers to reach even more people interested in real-time updates from their favorite sources.” Publishers that were on Notify are desperately blasting their followers, pushing them to like their Facebook Pages to stay connected.
These numbers are unconfirmed, but mobile intelligence startup SensorTower estimates that Notify only had 63,000 downloads. Perhaps the coolest part of Notify was the ability to set up granular alerts about sub-topics. Instead of subscribing to all NBA basketball news from CBS Sports, you could just get notifications about the Golden State Warriors or other teams. Instead of being bombarded with Bloomberg financial news, you could just configure Notify to tell you about certain companies.
This level of control is hopefully what Facebook will port over to other products. I’ve written about how bots could dehumanize Messenger by overrunning the chat app and sending you unwanted spam that makes you less likely to open the app or messages from friends. Notify’s granular alerts could keep chatbot noise down while giving you only relevant information.