Android 4.3 expected to bring new notifications settings for wearable devices and third-party apps

July 1, 2013
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Android 4.3

Android 4.3 screens | Image credit: Sam Mobile

Android 4.3 Jelly Bean could bring new notification features, according to a “teardown” of the leaked Android 4.3 version that’s already available to install on some devices.

According to Android Police, Android 4.3 contains some new notification code, which would essentially allow third-party apps to replicate the notification panel, and let other devices paired with an Android smartphone and/or tablet access those notifications:

However, the publication points out that available Android 4.3 code says that third party apps would not be permitted, at least for now, to read notifications as described above, as the set permissions are two high for third-party apps – the permissions would allow only system apps and Google/OEM apps to access notifications.

One interesting thing to consider is that Google may be changing Android notifications starting with Android 4.3 in order to let wearable gadgets properly display notifications, particularly Google-made devices such as Google Glass and the rumored Android smartwatch that the company is apparently working on.

In addition to those, other similar devices, such as the Pebble smartwatch, could take advantage of the new notification settings in Android 4.3, and display notifications complete with notification actions. Users would be able to perform actions based on the notifications they get directly from Google Glass or a smartwatch connected to their handsets and/or tablets.

Google could also let developers create custom notification panels, which could replace the default one on various devices. In other words, Android users could end up using the stock Android notification panel instead of the one their device comes pre-installed with. However, for the time being not all the required pieces are in place to make this work:

Right now, it looks like there would be enough functionality to replicate the notification panel, but not replace it. As far as I can see, Google would need to implement an intent for the status bar pull-down gesture and separate the notification panel from the rest of the system UI for that to work. This might be a first step in that direction, though.

Finally, apps that currently need to access notifications can’t do so in an easy manner, so the described notification changes in this leaked Android 4.3 build could definitely be very helpful.

Interestingly, a notification history is apparently also available in Android 4.3, basically a screen that shows you the current notifications but also past ones. Since we did talk about wearable computing, we’ll notice that the feature also seems to fit with the timeline feature of Google Glass – it may or may not be related to that – where everything you do on Glass is stored in a stream of cards that can be latter accessed.

Android 4.3 Notifications

Android 4.3 notifications screens: history (left) and apps that can listen to notifications (right) | Image credit: Android Police

That said, Android 4.3 is still not official, and while we’ve seen plenty of under-the-hood changes, including Roboto font refinements, the new OS is still not official. We’ll just have to wait and see what the final Android 4.3 version will have to offer – although it’s not clear how much waiting we should expect.

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