I will admit it: I spend far an excessive amount of time occupied with Android notifications.
To wit: ‘Twas a time once I wished upon a star for the straightforward capacity to snooze an Android notification — to ship it away to a later second, just like what Google’s just lately deceased Inbox app allowed us to do with emails. That functionality got here round in Android 8.zero Oreo (thanks, Google genie!), so I received to wishing some extra.
My subsequent want was for a extra highly effective notification snoozing system — one which, just like the system beforehand current in Inbox (and nonetheless out there in Google Maintain), would give us extra nuanced and helpful choices for sending our notifications away and having them return once we actually, actually want ’em. My hope was that Google might take the identical logic utilized in these different apps and apply it to Android in order that we might snooze notifications not just for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, one hour, or two hours — the annoyingly restricted set of choices out there within the working system at present — however as an alternative might snooze a notification to any particular time, date, and even location. Now, that’d be sensible.
That want, sadly, has but to be granted. The identical is true for my more moderen want for a full-fledged inbox-like interface for managing and storing Android notifications and my app-inspired daydream of a greater system for controlling how and when several types of notifications interrupt us.
Whereas Google itself hasn’t but acted on these potentialities, although, the corporate does seem like laying the groundwork for at the least elements of these needs to return true — on some degree — with the help of third-party builders.
Seize the closest snorkeling masks and slap in your flippers: It is time to dive deep into a very fascinating and unusually murky space of Android’s interior workings.
Meet the brand new Android Assistant
Our underwater tour takes us to a little-publicized new a part of Android — an unassuming possibility that got here alongside quietly with the newest Android Q beta launch. It is a funky little somethin’ known as the Notification Assistant Service. As Google’s developer docs clarify it, the service is meant to behave as a means for third-party apps to “assist the consumer handle notifications.” Enlightening, no?
All proper, so that does not inform us a lot — however we have lots extra clues to assemble. To start with, the system seems to be tied to a brand new “Notification Assistant” menu that resides inside the Notifications part of Android Q’s settings. There, you possibly can select which app or service acts as your telephone’s Notification Assistant — although in the mean time, given the dearth of third-party apps constructed to take benefit the function in the mean time, the one actual possibility is the default Android service of the identical title.
While you try to change the setting in any means, Android pops up a warning telling you no matter Notification Assistant you authorize will be capable to learn your whole notifications in addition to “modify or dismiss notifications or the set off motion buttons they comprise.” Hmmmmmm.
Let’s return to that developer-aimed documentation, which is thick with technical mumbo-jumbo but in addition bursting with juicy nuggets o’ data — the exact same data that’d assist an aspiring developer create their very own Notification Assistant to run in your gadget.
There’s a variety of element in these digital pages that is not particularly related for us, as non-coding people and/or humanoids, so I am not gonna bore you with the complete nitty-gritty. Right here, nevertheless, are the excessive factors value noting:
- A Notification Assistant Service is ready to view and modify sure elements of a notification earlier than it reaches the consumer. It could actually block a notification completely or trigger it to look silently, for example, and it may add its personal contextual motion buttons (instructions like replying to a message or opening an tackle in a map) in addition to its personal collection of context-driven sensible replies.
- A Notification Assistant Service also can monitor and see when the consumer faucets on an motion inside a notification, expands or collapses a notification, or dismisses a notification — so it may then react as wanted.
- And eventually, probably the most eye-catching parts for me: A Notification Assistant Service can handle the snoozing of notifications — each presenting its personal record of “snooze standards” to customers and receiving data about when the consumer selects a snoozing possibility so it may then course of the request appropriately.
From the appears of it, in different phrases, Android Q will permit a third-party app to take near-total management of how your telephone’s notifications work — virtually like a customized residence display launcher, just for notifications. And based mostly on what the documentation describes, such a service would have the flexibility so as to add some fairly intriguing choices into the combo, together with those who’d govern how and when particular varieties of notifications attain you, what occurs to notifications as soon as they’re dismissed, and the way precisely snoozing is offered and dealt with.
Now let’s suppose once more about these wild and as-of-yet unfilled daydreams of mine…
1. A extra intuitive and highly effective notification snoozing system
The specifics of precisely what snoozing choices a third-party Notification Assistant Service might show and act upon aren’t but clear, nevertheless it actually sounds like some flexibility is predicted on that entrance. To see the indicators, we’d like look no additional than that aforementioned record of “snooze standards” the Notification Assistant is ready to generate.
“If a consumer chooses to snooze a notification till one in all these criterion, the assistant will probably be notified,” the documentation explains.
The large query is what particular choices will probably be out there for a Notification Assistant to make use of — and that is one thing we merely do not know but. The URL that is offered for extra info on that topic at present redirects to the principle Android Builders reference web page, so maybe that is one thing that’ll be mentioned additional on the Google I/O builders’ conference in a few weeks after which up to date quickly thereafter.
However perhaps, simply perhaps, a third-party Notification Assistant will be capable to provide extra various and customizable choices past what Android itself gives proper now. This is hoping.
2. A full-fledged inbox-like interface for managing and storing Android notifications
Enable me to elaborate a bit extra on what I had in thoughts with this second merchandise. Ahem — go, go, magic JR quoting machine:
What if Android’s notification panel have been itself an inbox — a set of vital incoming objects that is handled very similar to the inbox on your electronic mail? You’d see new notifications arrive within the panel on the high of your telephone, simply as you do now, however as an alternative of in the end disappearing into some unknown ether once they go away that space, they’d keep there till you handled them — even when your telephone restarted. They’d stay current, in truth, till you swiped them away to archive them or snooze them for later supply. …
[Any items you archived would then] stay a faucet away, in your full inbox — similar to what occurs with messages in Gmail. With, say, a faucet on the backside of your notification panel, you would open up your full inbox and discover each notification that had ever arrived in your telephone (aside from any that you simply choose to delete, in fact; similar to with Gmail, that’d have to stay an possibility). Missed a name, a reminder, or a message from any app and might’t bear in mind the main points? No drawback: Simply pull up your notification inbox and browse or search to search out it.
We all know that the Notification Assistant Service permits a third-party Notification Assistant to see your notifications and take actions once you snooze or dismiss them. It would not appear to be a lot of a leap to think about such a service constructing out a cloud-synced archiving system just like this idea — even when Google itself would not find yourself being the one to do it. (Such a feat is technically attainable at present, however solely with a fairly clunky type of workaround that is not the most user-friendly factor on this planet — or by way of an equally unintuitive and exceptionally restricted system-level perform.)
3. A greater system for controlling how and when several types of notifications warn you
This final half comes from my expertise with Daywise, a third-party Android app that permits you to choose to obtain notifications from non-critical apps or contacts in a handful of consolidated bundles all through the day as an alternative of being dinged by each particular person alert because it arrives. It is remarkably just like what Google’s Inbox app did for electronic mail (see the connective tissue all through all of this?) — solely right here, the method is utilized to all notifications as an alternative of solely these associated to electronic mail.
Because it stands now, Daywise has to do that in a roundabout means: It first must be granted permission to manage Android’s notifications (by way of an present permission that enables an app to view your notifications however to not modify them instantly) — then it withholds notifications that are not deemed to be high-priority as they arrive and delivers them to you later as a part of a bundle.
However here is the catch: Since it may’t instantly modify notifications, the app has to create its personal new notifications to ship to you later. These notifications truly come from Daywise, not from the unique app that generated them. It is a delicate however vital distinction.
With the brand new Notification Assistant Service risk, an app like Daywise won’t have to leap via hoops to do what it is attempting to do. It’d have a local, safe, and formally supported technique of carrying out the identical fundamental set of actions — and extra. It is a critical growth of what was beforehand attainable, and its implications might be appreciable for these of us who take pleasure in searching for out these very types of efficiency-optimizing enhancements.
Solely time will inform exactly what the Notification Assistant Service permits apps to do and to what diploma builders truly reap the benefits of it, however one thing fascinating and probably productivity-boosting certain appears to be a-cookin’. Add this to your record of Android Q areas value watching because the weeks put on on — particularly as we develop nearer to Google I/O in early Might after which to the ultimate Q launch this summer time.
One factor we are able to say for certain proper now: The odor of one thing important is completely within the air. Breathe it in, mull it over, and let’s have a look at the place it leads us.
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