Simulate the Moto X’ Active Display feature on any Android 4.3 device

by: Bogdan PetrovanAugust 7, 2013

ActiveNotifications - moto x active display

The beauty of Android is that whatever nice feature someone can think of, someone else will find a way to mimic it and turn it into an app. That’s true for Apple’s Control Center, but also for Motorola’s Active Display, one of the most interesting features of the newly launched Moto X.

To be clear, ActiveNotifications is a work in progress that doesn’t offer yet a perfect simulation of the functionality on the Moto X. The app, released yesterday on the Play Store by XDA-Developers user niko001, requires Android 4.3 to run, because it makes use of the Notification Listener service that Google added to the latest version of Android. Preferably, your device should feature an AMOLED display, so the app doesn’t draw too much energy.

So, how does it work? When you receive a notification, such as from Gmail or a text, the display on your device will show the notification icon and a preview, allowing you to swipe to open it. The developer also tried to emulate the behavior of the Moto X that prevents the notification ring from showing when the device is face down on a desk or inside the user’s pocket. The idea is to get access to notifications without powering up the device, thus saving time and energy.

Here’s the bit from our Kris Wouk’s Moto X review where he talks about Active Display:

So far, the reviews for ActiveNotifications are positive, although users did raise a few issues, such as the absence of the “breathing” effect that Motorola uses. Devices running Android 4.3 or custom ROMs that are based on Android 4.3 are scarce for now, but niko001 says he might bring the app to devices running older versions if there’s enough interest for it.

  • Josh Easley

    this wakes my phone up and constantly displays the Clock…that is not ideal

  • venorme

    You can do it on any S4 – just leave your airview on. If screen is blocked and you wave – you ll get preview

  • MasterMuffin

    There’s no phone with AMOLED screen that has 4.3 except for S4 GE :(

    • TheScientists

      My Galaxy Nexus begs to differ. ;)

      • MasterMuffin

        That’s what I said ;D

        • TheScientists

          Nice late edit. : ]

    • There are some with custom ROMs too. This works on LCD too, it will just drain the battery faster.

      • MasterMuffin

        Yea I didn’t even notice that CM10.2 got a “stable” experimental release on tuesday, I’m using this now and I like it!

  • Ervin Dinh

    Works GREAT on my Nexus 4. Anyone else using this on it?

    • Fae

      i do

  • Rodrigo

    Does anyone has a link for the moto x wallpaper?

  • Rodrigo Medina Burgos

    Maybe is just me but the usefulness of this feature in Moto X is that when you flip the phone or you take it out of the pocket the screen lights up with the notification. This app doesn’t do this, you have to press the power button to turn on the screen and see the notification unless of course you happen to have the phone on a table or desk and see the notification when it arrives and turns on the screen.

  • TheScientists

    Tried it for a bit, but had to uninstall it. It wakes up my phone too often, and not at ideal times. To be truly useful, it needs to be contextually aware, just like Moto’s version. To do that it would need to continually monitor the light sensor and accelerometer, which of course would kill the battery. I also find the list of info that Dashclock gives me on my lockscreen to be more useful.