Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The four smart ways Google can fix Android notifications

When Android 8.0 lands this fall, two things is going to be certain: It’ll have a sweets-inspired name beginning with the letter O, and the notification system will get another series of changes. Meanwhile the steady stream of beeps and buzzes that we get on our phones is a never-ending work in progress, and Google is constantly trying to walk the line between indispensable and irritating as it works to refine its system of alerts. So now, Nougat brought some much-needed features to Android’s notifications, adding extremely useful changes to the way we view and interact with them. But while many apps have taken full advantage of the latest features, navigating the notification shade on a Nougat phone can still be a hit-or-miss affair. With some tweaks, however, Google can truly revolutionize notifications in Android 8, bringing the same level of control we enjoy with the interface to the alerts we receive throughout the day.
1.Clean up the status bar One of the things that makes Android unique is the tiny notification icons in the status bar. And they can be tremendously useful as visual reminders of things that need immediate action. But they can also be a terrible nuisance, cluttering the tiny space above our home screens and apps, and commanding equal attention for urgent and unimportant matters alike. The System UI Tuner already enables you to turn off the icons on the right side of the status bar (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc.), but the left side can be far more distracting. While Google is unlikely to ever eliminate them completely (and there’s no reason it should), status bar notifications needn’t to be such an all-or-nothing affair. Just like it does with the lock screen, Google could provide an option for notifications to appear in the status bar, so you could designate only the most important ones to occupy such prime real estate. And one more thing in addition, even if Google never lets us turn them off, there should never be duplicate icons in the status bar. Whether it’s a bug or a feature, they’re pointless and distracting, and if nothing else, Google should make it a point in Android O to make sure only one icon per app appears, no matter how many notifications that piles up.
How to get it done: First.......when you tap on an app in the Notifications settings, add a new tab: In the status bar. Then you can choose from the same three options: Show all notification content, hide sensitive notification content, and don’t show notifications at all.
2.Allow alerts to self-destruct One major thing about notifications is that their value begins fading almost immediately. If they sit for more than a few hours, they can most likely be dismissed and ignored, yet there’s no way to get rid of them unless you recognize their existence in some way. It goes in these instances when automatic expirations would be useful. For example, you could set calendar entries to disappear a few hours after the event has ended, or sports scores to clear after a day. It would keep the status bar and shade neat and tidy, while allowing timely and pertinent notifications to rise to prominence.
How to get it done: When you look into inside an app’s notification settings, there should be a new Notifications history option. Inside you could set when you want notifications to disappear from a time picker.
3.Focus on organization Nougat’s introduction of bundling was an effort to bring a measure of order to the notification shade, but in any regard there’s still a lot more Android could do to rein in wayward alerts. Too often the status bar and shade become bogged down with out-of-order alerts, and there’s no way to fix them, save to clear them all and start over. A “group by app” option for sure would go a long way toward bringing some order to chaotic notification shades, letting you quickly see which apps require the most attention and catch up on outdated alerts. And by making it a toggle in Settings, we wouldn’t even have to wait for developers to get around to adding it. Also, notifications should disappear once the app is launched, whether or not you’ve acted upon it. And here’s one Google really needs to take from iOS: unread badges on app icons. For now the only way to get them is to install a third-party launcher or select custom apps, and it’s crazy that Google hasn’t yet built the option into Android. The glanceability factor far exceeds that of notifications, and badges actually encourage you to interact with the app. And finally, since using them is an app-by-app decision independent of notification banners, they could also cut down on the number of alerts we receive.
How to get it done: In the main notifications settings window, an option to either group chronologically or by app could be added. For badges, it would be a per-app settings, with an option to add a badge or turn off peek notifications, thanks........
4.Keep everything in sync A large number of Android users probably have at least two devices, whether it’s a tablet or another phone. Each has its own set of notifications to clear, whether or not they were already addressed on another device. So in this regard, if you just plowed through a mountain of email in your inbox on your Pixel phone, those mail notifications will persist on your Pixel C tablet, even though your Gmail account has dutifully synced the messages. Now, our Google accounts already handle everything from backups to bookmarks, and it would be great if they could sync notification status across our devices, too. And finally on this note. while we’re talking about keeping things in sync, lock screen notifications should be reserved for only those alerts that arrived since the last time you locked your phone. Keeping old ones visible defeats the purpose of having them appear on the lock screen in the first place.
How get it done: One toggle in Google Drive or Settings could include an option: Sync notifications with a simple on or off switch. Thanks for reading.......

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