What I wish Apple would Announce

“Announcements” ™ – an update to a selected Audience ™ of your contacts within the Messages app: can be pic, vid, gif, text, flight status, mood emoji, location check-in, anything from the stickers or iMessage apps – all in a separate scroll from text messages and group chats, in chronological order, without notifications.

Announcements are shared by default to an Audience you populate by choosing individuals and groups from your existing contacts. You then modify the Audience per post if required. E.g. – default Audience is BSW + Bastard Squad + The Kids + Rosa + Ray + Ashley; you can remove individuals or groups from specific Announcements when you post (Ray, BSW and Ashley might not be interested in Disneyland stuff, perhaps).

You can dip into your Announcement scroll whenever you like. Announcements are ephemeral and expire from the scroll in 48 hours by default (if you want more permanent communication, that’s what the texts and group chats are for).

In your contact list, each contact has a tick box for “Receive Announcements” – uncheck it and you will not see that person’s Announcements. There’s also a switch in Settings to turn your Announcement scroll on or off if you don’t want to receive any Announcements at all. Announcements appears as a circle with your favorited contacts in iMessage.

The only notification you ever receive is a one-time notice when someone adds you to their Audience. “XYZ would like you to receive their Announcements” at which point you pick Yes/No from the notification itself (you can change it in future in the contact card). You can add people to your Audience but are not told if they accepted or not. You don’t follow people; they offer to share.

The end result is that instead of texting the same thing to half a dozen people or groups that don’t overlap, you blast it to everyone you’d like to be able to see it and if they are interested, they can. Since it’s a feature within the app’s own architecture, it shares the same end to end encryption, and nothing is stored on a central server – it’s delivered and that’s an end of it.

What makes this an attractive prospect is that you can leverage the contacts you already have, in bulk. The group chat is still the most valid form of social networking, but you can’t combine all your groups into one big one because no one wants to be on a group chat with fifty people and the notifications are preposterous. Thus the scroll, which has no notifications and which you look at whenever you like. If it’s a must see, they’ll text you – this is ideal for the pictures of London you share in the moment while you’re there.

And here’s the thing: this has expanded beyond just Snapchat and Facebook’s properties. Twitter, Netflix, even LinkedIn – but most of all, if you look at the beta for the Android client for Signal, and turn on the correct flag, you can see the implementation of Stories ready to go. And this is huge – because you have the ability to do ephemeral blast communication to all of your contacts or at least as many as you want to, all end to end encrypted, from a program that is cross-platform, accessible from phone or desktop alike, and which is owned by a non-profit foundation rather than a corporation, and which has if anything a bigger middle finger up than Apple on the topic of privacy.

This, in short, might be what I’ve been moaning about for two years. And it might be the thing that prioritizes Signal over any other service (well, except for CarPlay texting while driving) – because at the end of the day, that sort of ephemeral blast content, if you can coax people into using it, would obviate the need for Insta and Twitter and at that point, I wouldn’t require anything else.

Something to think about.

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