By JR Raphael, Contributing Editor, Computerworld |
Not your average Android news — a diverse mix of advice, insight, and analysis with veteran Android journalist JR Raphael.
Everyone in tech circles may be goin’ gaga over artificial intelligence at the moment, but here in the land o’ Android, we’ve got plenty of other interesting stuff on the horizon.
Believe it or not, Google’s already hard at work on the next grand Android version — the awkwardly gawky early-teen Android 14. And while it’s still far too soon to say exactly what the release will entail, one nugget from the latest Android 14 developer preview is pretty darn intriguing.
Specifically, the most recent Android 14 preview introduces a nifty new set of options around notifications — an area that’s simultaneously one of the best and the worst elements of any modern mobile device.
These new options, though, aim to make ’em even more useful by making sure you never miss anything important. With the flick of a couple quick switches, you can tell your phone to flash a custom-colored LED-like light on your screen anytime a new alert arrives — or, if you really want to get fancy, have it flash your phone’s back-facing camera light to catch your attention (and/or give you an impressively affordable way to create an on-demand rave).
Either approach could certainly be helpful in the right sort of situation. And here’s the really good news: You don’t actually even need Android 14 to make any of it happen.
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In fact, you can create an even more advanced and customizable version of that same sort of notification magic on any Android device this minute — if you know where to look.
We’ll start with the first part of the Android 14 notification upgrade — that fancy screen flashing effect. This one’s delightfully easy to achieve, and it’ll bring a zesty new twist of notification, erm, notifying to your phone.
The key to making it happen is a handy little app called AodNotify. It’s one of my favorite Android-enhancing tools and something I rely on constantly on my own personal devices.
The specific version of AodNotify you need depends on what type of phone you’re using:
Once you get the right version for your phone and get through the initial setup, you’ll be about 90 seconds away from having your screen light up in different ways for different notifications — and being able to rest easy knowing you’ll never miss the most important incoming info.
And you’ve got some interesting choices here, too:
You can customize all sorts of stuff about how your on-screen notification lights work, too. Three of my favorite options are:
AodNotify is free with an optional $5 upgrade for some of its more advanced features. The app doesn’t require any permissions beyond what’s needed for its operation, and its developer (a well-known and widely trusted Android mainstay) says the software doesn’t collect, store, or share any manner of user data.
Cool? Cool. But don’t tune out yet. We’ve got one more option to consider, and it’s a good’un.
That first path is a perfect Android notification upgrade for most people — and it really is an even more flexible and fully featured setup than what Google’s got cookin’ in Android 14 itself as of this moment.
If you really want to make sure important alerts catch your eye, though, there’s one more choice worth chewing over. And it’s something that also ties in closely to one of the new Android 14 notification features.
It’s a Missed Call Reminder app that makes it as easy as can be have your phone’s camera flash light up for incoming notifications — and not just those from missed calls, either, despite what its name implies. Best of all? Just like our first tool, this one features lots of options and customization potential that make it meaningfully better than Android 14’s current native equivalent.
Once you’ve got the app installed, you’ll find yourself facing a list of default profiles for when the camera flash should occur. (And a heads-up, by the way: Depending on where you look, the app is sometimes known as Prof Reminder instead of Missed Call Reminders. Hey, we all have the occasional identity crisis.)
Tap any profile to edit it and get it all set up for your own specific purposes. And if you aren’t planning to use any of those default profiles, be sure to tap the three-dot menu icon within it and select the option to disable it entirely, lest it function when you least expect it and catch your poor unprepared peepers by surprise.
You can create your own new custom profile, too, which is the simplest way to set up a camera flash alert for notifications from specific high-priority apps.
Missed Call Reminder is free to use in its base form, though some of the more advanced options — including the ability to create custom camera flash alerts for notifications from different apps — require a one-time $3 upgrade to unlock.
And there ya have it. We may still be months away from Android 14’s official arrival, but now, you can have a taste of one of its most interesting under-development features this second — and you can make your phone infinitely more useful as a result.
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Contributing Editor JR Raphael serves up tasty morsels about the human side of technology. Hungry for more? Sign up for his weekly newsletter to get fresh tips and insight in your inbox every Friday.
Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.
Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.