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Chrome rich notifications go live for all Windows users; good luck using them

Ian Paul | July 11, 2013
The upgraded notifications should send interactive pop-ups to your desktop, but we couldn't get them to work.

Richer notifications are now available in the latest stable version of Chrome for Windows, version 28.

Chrome has offered notifications outside of the browser window for some time, first introducing the feature for Gmail in 2011. The difference now is the richer-notifications feature lets developers of Chrome apps and extensions send interactive pop-up notifications to your desktop. Hangouts could, for example, send you a chat pop-up notification with options to reply, email, or call the person you're chatting with.

The new feature also adds the oft-discussed notification center to Chrome for Windows, which allows you to get updates on the desktop from online services-even when the full Chrome browser isn't running.

Although richer notifications and the notification center are activated by default, you won't see anything new unless you're using a Chrome app or extension that has enabled the feature.

Google did not provide a list of which apps and extensions the feature currently works with, but after publication, a Google representative contacted us to offer three specific examples of Chrome apps with rich notifications that Windows users can try out.

No richer than before

A Google spokesperson told PCWorld that richer notifications have to be enabled on a per-app basis. You can enable Gmail, for example, to send desktop notifications by clicking on the gear icon on the right-hand side of your inbox and selecting Settings>General.

Scroll down to "Desktop notifications" on the next screen and turn on notifications for mail and chat. These are the same settings that have been around for two years, so most users probably already have enabled them.

A Google spokesperson said the richer notifications should appear by activating this feature but, in my tests Wednesday, I couldn't see any interactive features in the Gmail version.

I also tried getting notifications using the Hangouts extension for Chrome that puts Hangouts in the Windows taskbar. But again, no richer notifications. Checking out forums and sites around the Web, it seems other users are also coming up empty in the search for richer notifications and the notification center.

Update: After this story went live, a Google representative contacted us to offer three specific examples of Chrome apps with rich notifications that Windows users can try out. They are:

  • Ouistiti: A simple example application that prompts you to take a photo with your Webcam every day.
  • Checker Plus for Gmail: Desktop rich notifications for new email.
  • Checker Plus for Google Calendar: Desktop rich notifications for calendar events.

Examples of desktop rich notifications for Checker Plus for Gmail (giving you the chance to mark the message as read or delete it), left, and Ouistiti (giving you the chance to take a webcam shot or to remind you to take it later).


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