Android Intelligence Analysis

Android O makes my notification wish come true

An easily overlooked option in Google's Android O software may end up being one of the release's most useful new features.

Android O
Credit: Google

Oh -- hi there, O.

There's a lot to be said about Google's brand spankin' new Android O software, which arrived in a very rough-around-the-edges first developer preview on Tuesday. And fear not, my friends, for we'll get to it all in time.

First, though, I need to take a minute to zone in on one inconspicuous feature in this extremely early O draft: the ability to snooze a notification.

Sound familiar? It should: I've been talking about such a feature since this time last year, when we were eagerly awaiting the first sign of 2016's Android N.

At the time, I had recently converted over to Inbox for email, you see, and I'd fallen hard for that app's native snoozing function. You know how it works: Swipe to the left on any message or reminder in Inbox, and you get the option to send that item away and set it to return at a particular time or place.

It struck me that such a system would be absolutely brilliant for the broader area of Android notifications -- and man, did I ever want those two forces to meet. As I mused back then:

With Android notifications, that same concept could be invaluable. Who among us hasn't gotten some important alert at an inopportune time and then forgotten to deal with it later? Whether the notification got accidentally dismissed or just lost in the shuffle, it's far too easy for something so potentially relevant to go out of sight and/or out of mind, often never to be seen again.

So imagine how useful it'd be to have the option to swipe left on a notification and snooze it so it'll go away and then pop back up at the right time or place. That alert about your eBay sale could be snoozed until you get home for the day, or that link to a funny story from your significant other could be put to sleep until later this evening when you'll have time to look at it. This one addition could make an already exceptional system infinitely more practical.

Well, tickle me tootsies and call me Petunia: Notification snoozing may not have made it into Android N after all, but it looks like that exact sort of system is in the works for this year's Android O offering.

As of the first Android O preview, you can slide a notification just a touch to either side to find a new clock icon -- the same icon, in fact, you see for snoozing an item in Inbox. In Android, it lives alongside the app settings icon we've seen in that spot for a while now:

Android O Notifications jr

Tap that icon, and ta-da: You'll get an option to snooze the notification for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour. Once that amount of time has elapsed, the notification will pop back up as if it were new.

Notably, there's no option to snooze by location yet -- in other words, to tell a notification to go away and then return when you're in a specific place, like your house or an office -- but remember: This is only the first developer preview. Things are bound to evolve between now and the final Android O release.

(Similarly, it's entirely possible this feature could disappear altogether and not make it into the final O software. We've certainly seen that happen with elements present in early preview releases in the past. Here's hoping that doesn't happen here.)

There are plenty of far more monumental features in Android O -- both ones revealed in this first preview and, more than likely, ones we've yet to see as of now -- but for me, this subtle little touch may end up being the most consequential change of all.

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