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Five ways Google can fix Android notifications

Michael Simon | Jan. 11, 2017
The notification system in Nougat is better than its ever been but there are lots of improvements that still need to be made.

Keep everything in sync

Most 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 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.

Android Nougat notifications  

Status bars would be easier to manage if notifications synced across all of our devices.

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 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 it could work: A toggle in Google Drive or Settings could include an option: Sync notifications with a simple on or off switch.

Take over Google Now

Along with the dozens of alerts it needs to handle every day, the notification shade also serves triple duty as a playback controller and settings screen. And on larger phones, it can be a nuisance to stretch your finger all the way to the top of the phone just to pause the song playing in your headphones.

Android Nougat notifications  

Google Now would be a great place to put the settings and now playing screens.

But the coveted space to the left of the home screen could be a perfect placement for persistent notifications. Of course, it’s currently occupied by Google Now, but since Google Assistant is likely to be deeply integrated into the next version of Android, the smart card system could be obsolete before long. But even if it remains, now playing and settings cards could easily be incorporated into the existing design, making them easier to access and uncluttering the space above the notification shade.

How it could work: Google could simply move the quick settings and the now playing screen to the bottom of the left-most screen, not unlike what Apple does with the Control Center. And even if Google doesn’t want to open full Google Now access to third-party launchers, it could still provide those two cards.

 

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