Android’s notification drawer isn’t just for boring emails and texts. You can use it to launch apps, change settings, and lots more. Here are some of the best apps that turn notifications into powerful tools.
All of these apps utilise expandable notifications, so you’ll need to be running at least Jelly Bean 4.1 to use these features. To expand a notification, you can either swipe down on a notification with two fingers (4.1 and up), or swipe down with just one finger (requires 4.2). Swipe up with two fingers on the notifications again to collapse them
Quickly is a simple-to-use app launcher that lives in your shade. You can choose from one to three lines of app shortcuts. If you’re keen on extra customisation, you can even select which icon you use on a per-shortcut basis. You can also set shortcuts to quickly call or text certain contacts you frequently interact with. In the settings, you can adjust the priority of the notification. Give it a higher priority if you want it to remain at the top of your list, or a lower priority if you want to let other items bump it down.
Quickly is available on the Play Store for $0.99. [clear]
StatusAgenda puts a persistent single-line notification in your shade showing you when your next appointment takes place. Expand it, though, and you get a view of your next several events. In the bottom-right corner, there will also be a button to let you quickly add a new event. The app ties in to your Google Calendar schedule and, at the moment, imports all calendars. The developer says the ability to only show select calendars is coming in the next version.
StatusAgenda is free on the Play Store.
This app’s one-line form will show you a brief overview of your local weather, including temperature and general conditions (for example, “partly cloudy”). Drag it down to get more detailed information, including the day’s highs and lows, and a four-day forecast. The pro version includes the ability to manually refresh the widget as well as hide the status bar icon.
iOS brought with it the ability to post to Twitter or Facebook directly from the notification shade no matter where you were. notiShare fills a very similar function on Android, adding Google+ into the mix as well. You can customise which social networks appear as quick links in the expanded notification. You can also set one of the sites as your favourite, so that tapping the notification itself (whether it’s expanded or not) will automatically pull up that site’s share dialog.
notiShare is free on the Play Store.
Notable gives you one main persistent notification that expands to show the option to add a reminder. Each reminder then become their own separate entries in your shade. You can colour code them by priority which will in turn decide how high up they stay, and whether they appear above or below incoming messages. It’s a very simple, bare-bones app, though it can get cluttered if you add too many reminders.
Notable is free on the Play Store.
Informer provides system information including battery remaining, battery temperature, available RAM, free storage, and even your device’s current voltage. Some of the information may not be that useful for people who don’t overclock their devices, but it’s still nice to have. As an added bonus, expanding the notification gives you three customisable buttons. You can set them to basic controls such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth toggles, or choose to launch custom apps.
Informer is free on the Play Store.
Notif Pro allows you to put custom reminders in your shade. Unlike Notable, however, this app has lots of customisation options. You can specifically set the priority, icon, title, body content, and even include pictures or lists. It’s not a proper to-do list replacement, but if you need an intrusive reminder, it’s hard to beat. As a bonus, you can even use the “note to self” voice action in Google Now to create a notification on the fly. Handy!
[clear] Obviously, you won’t want to use all of these apps at once. During my tests I found that they have scattered priorities and not all of them are configurable, so you wind up with important messages appearing in the middle of the giant list, which makes it difficult to find what you need. However, one or two can transform your notification drawer from a passive source of information into a powerful tool.