Android L Lockscreen

Android L takes the design of this operating system in a different direction, and nowhere is that more apparent right when you start using it than in the lockscreen and notification area. The now-familiar Google Now card paradigm is alive and well throughout the interface of Android L, taken to the next level with the new ideas and colors present in the Material Design language that the software is built on.

At the same time as the big visual redesign, the notification pane and lockscreen have both received functionality changes that bring the most important information forward to you and make accessing your phone's controls a little easier. While what we have available now in the Android L Developer Preview likely only scratches the surface of what we'll see in a final release, we're excited to take a walk through notifications and the lockscreen in Android L.

A new look for notifications

Android L Notifications

While looks and functions have changed, the drop-down notification pane has been a part of Android since version 1.0. We're now looking at the latest incarnation of that notification pane idea in Android L, and it's actually a notable departure all around. Swiping down from the top of your screen pulls up a new interface that "floats" on top of your homscreen, and actually doesn't reach the full width of the screen or slide all the way down to the bottom, adding to the subtle effect. The clock shifts over to the left side of the top bar, while your Google profile picture appears next to the battery on the right.

Below that top bar are your notifications, now shown in a striking white color with rounded corners and drop shadows, just like cards in Google Now. Newer notifications at the top show up in another subtle animation when you swipe down initially, with older notifications sliding out from underneath and expanding down. Individual notifications can be swiped away to either side, or expanded with an additional swipe down if that app's notifications support it.

A subtle horizontal line below the standard notifications separate them from ongoing notifications, such as the status of your device when it's plugged into your computer or a weather update from Google Now. As the number of notifications piles up, at the bottom of the list you'll notice older notifications start to stack up on top of each other, fading away and indicating their age. As you swipe away notifications from the top, you'll see the list at the bottom expand again to fill the room.

There's a new class of notifications in Android L called "Heads-up Notifications" as well, which were briefly shown off in the Google I/O keynote but we now understand a bit more. Heads-up notifications come down from the top of the screen, even in full-screen apps and games, to give you important information such as an incoming call or a very important chat message. You can take action on them by tapping the message or the expanded action buttons, or swipe them away to get back to your app. And no, there's no way at this time to clear all notifications at once, it seems.

Android L Notifications

Starting with Jelly Bean, apps can declare what priority — max, high, default, low, min — their notifications should be (more on this from the Android Developer site), and in L, those that declare themselves "max" priority will show up as a Heads-up Notification type. We've noticed Facebook Messenger oddly (but honestly not surprisingly) makes all of its notifications the max priority, but we'd hope as L gets further into development that app developers will take it upon themselves to declare the proper priority so they're not spamming us with drop-down notifications.

The entire notification experience is nice to use once you get over the striking visual differences from KitKat, as most everything works just as you're used to, but with new animations and styles. Matias Duarte and the rest of the design group at Google talked about the animations throughout Android L being subtle and something that you simply notice but aren't strong enough to draw your full attention — I'd say that's a pretty accurate representation of what you see here.

Accessing quick settings

Android L Quick Settings

With all of the new notification pane design, we're thankful Google didn't forget about the quick settings panel. The two-finger swipe from the top of the screen is gone in Android L, replaced by a tap on the top bar or additional swipe down after expanding the notification pane first. Once you expand the quick settings menu, you'll find a full brightness slider at the very top, followed by Wifi, Bluetooth, Mobile data, Airplane mode, Notifications, Auto-rotate, Location and Cast screen buttons. Missing is the ability to toggle auto brightness and see the battery percentage — you'll have to go into the full settings to do those.

For Wifi and Bluetooth, tapping the top icon of either one will toggle the radio on or off, while pressing the name under the icon (separated by a small line) will take you into the settings menu. Tapping Airplane mode, Auto-rotate and Location simply toggle those functions, while the Notifications and Cast screen buttons have deeper functions.

Android L Quick Settings

Tapping the Notifications button reveals a secondary panel to control notification volume and access the new "Do not disturb" function in Android L. Tap the button in this pane and you can enable Do not disturb for a set period of time — between 15 minutes and 8 hours — or turn it on until you turn it back off again. Notifications received while Do not disturb is turned on show up silently in the notification bar as "Notification hidden," which you can tap to reveal. We'll be diving deeper into Do not disturb mode in Android L in a separate post, but needless to say it's a welcomed addition to the OS and importantly finds its place in the quick settings menu.

Using the lockscreen

Android L Lockscreen

In Android L, the lockscreen and notification pane are getting closer to convergence. When you power the screen on, you'll be greeted by a clock with the date on the top portion of the screen, along with a listing of your most important notifications underneath it in the same style as you see on the homescreen when you pull down the notification pane. You'll get the top four notifications listed, with a small "+" and the number of additional notifications there are below it. Your network, battery state and profile picture show in the top right — just as they do in the notification pane — along with your carrier information in the top left corner and three icons — phone, unlock and camera — on the bottom.

Assuming you forego having a PIN, pattern or password (or in later builds have a trusted Bluetooth device connected), there are four basic gestures that are available to you on the lockscreen. Swiping down across any portion of the screen will expand the small view of your notifications to show a full list of all notifications, which you can then interact with in all of the usual ways. A swipe up on the screen sends you to the homescreen, while a swipe from the right launches the camera (same as KitKat) and a swipe from the left launches your phone dialer.

Android L Lockscreen

If you choose to go with the aforementioned versions of lockscreen security, the functionality of the lockscreen changes a bit. By default, notification display changes to only show the app and number of notifications, while hiding the content of the message. For example you'll see that there's a Gmail notification, along with the message "Unlock your device to see this notification." Swiping down on the screen simply gives an expanded list of these style of notifications.

Dive into the settings and you can enable full-content notifications while using lockscreen security, if you prefer, and you can also turn off lockscreen notifications altogether.

Android L Lockscreen with PIN

At least based on what the current Android L Developer Preview has to show us, I think we can call the lockscreen widgets introduced in Android 4.2 a failure as they aren't even included in this release of the software. Considering that very few people really took advantage of the lockscreen widgets and that the notification pane is now taking over your lockscreen the moment you power on your phone, there's really little need for them either. Having quick access to your phone dialer, notifications and camera with simple swipes on the lockscreen is just about all most people will want to do — anything more and they can probably just unlock their phone.

More on Android L

We'll be diving deeply into several different features of Android L, and right now you can follow along with even more words and visuals on the latest version of Android:

 

Reader comments

Android L preview: Notifications and lockscreen

142 Comments

I miss that dismiss all button tho...had to swipe away about 30 app installed notifications earlier...

Posted via Android Central App

If I have to look hard that's not good period I've had Android L for 6 hours and I swiped away like 40 notifications
Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 running Android L or Samsung galaxy S5

i mean, once you figure it out, do you have to always "look hard?" no... you learn it, like anything else. not a crisis.

I remember when there wasn't an Update All button in the Android Market and each app had to be updated manually. Sometimes there isn't a way.

I had read rumor that the Dismiss/close all option might be gone. I'll seriously miss that if it is truly gone.

I have a feeling google doesn't really want you removing them anymore. Just let them pile up and combine at the bottom as old... I'm not liking the notifications at all in this preview... I'm not sure what I'll do if they stay like this when it's released because I don't see myself putting up with it.

Hmm...So when they are all stacked at the bottom shouldn't you be able to swipe all away at that moment? What's the point of stacking them like that then? I get that it lets you clear some room to see the other notifications, but seriously... Don't tell me they didn't think of that...

Maybe they plan to start sending ads through notifications and if they let you dismiss all then you wont be seeing their ads. By forcing you to dismiss them individually it forces to to at least glance at them.

WAY too many people have notification anxiety to get rid of the Clear All button. Smart phones are great and terrible for folks that have OCD. The people that maintain inbox zero will also swipe each notification away. Why make the world more efficient by having us unlock our phones more often if you are going to replace it with swiping all these notifications away.

I would seriously hate to lose that. I hate that about iOS. Seems to limit things. I'm also not liking these ugly white rectangles filing up an otherwise attractive lock screen.

Posted via Android Central App

It is a developer preview... Incomplete.. Your gonna have stuff like that

Posted via Android Central App

Exactly. I fully expect it to be re-added by the time it actually releases. This is used much to frequently by nearly everyone for them to completely get rid of it.

I'm hoping this is just a temporary thing while they get the software working. I like my Dash Clock Widgets.

There's a reason why the comment section is below the article itself, read first and ask questions later. It's common sense.

Posted via Android Central App

It will still be a pretty useful homescreen widgets, plenty of people use it that way. But its main functionality will be dead for sure.

I'm guessing studies showed not a lot of people used lockscreen widgets... Truth be told, they were kinda buried. I think they'd make more sense if the stock lock screen actually forced you to swipe past the actual lock screen even when security hadn't kicked in, like Sense, rather than just jumping straight to the home screen or last used app. I always thought Sense and iOS had a more logical approach to that, even if it isn't quite as quick at times.

Double Twist has one. That is the only app that I know of that has one.

Posted via Android Central App

Would look a lot better with round icons (with color) with the info next to them in a shaded opaque box. Would look more classy than this. But I'm not a designer. Just a consumer. I know nothing.

Samsung has had those popup notifications for awhile (for phone calls), the rest really looks good though

ALways good to see features that the OEMs have been building made part of the Android core. It (hopefully) means faster turn around time on device updates, and less chance for OEMs to build "janky" features.

I hope they have a night mode for these notifications and the settings menus etc. These notification cards dark, perhaps with transparency, and light text would suit me better. Hoping we get the chance to have some options in this area.

Posted via Android Central App

I agree. I prefer the dark look we currently have with KitKat over these light colored notifications.

Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5

Yeah I've been hoping for a dark option for a while, not gonna happen they're going bright low contrast :(

Not only do dark themes look better (in my opinion) they're a hell of a lot easier on the visually impaired. Probably old folks too, for the same reason.

Posted via Android Central App

I usually prefer the dark themes but the colors in L are are much easier on the eyes then any other version of Android to date. The soft Grey and whites work extremely well and are easy on the eyes day and night also L has some crazy accessibility options, especialy for color blindness or has color correction settings. Also auto brightness had been replaced by adaptive brightness you can use the quick title to adjust your preference to à certain lighting condition and it'll adjust from the as the light becomes brighter or dimmer

Agreed, the white menus =( , the crazy sea green colors in the dialer and everywhere =( , white notifications =(..

Why can't Google have a dark theme? Throw it in under display or development settings..

Posted via Android Central App

Aesthetically , It looks like a blend of iOS n TW , none of which I'm a Fan of.
Since I like how my active notifications work on my Moto X I'll hold off a bit longer to switch.

Posted via Android Central App

Yeah kind of like a toddler designing the color scheme here. At least in ICS and jelly bean they were consistent. Going light is one thing but it seems like they are all over the place as far as design now... Almost like different teams were responsible for different parts of the OS and gave each part subtle design differences. It looks really amateur. I kind of thought the darker theme was a nice android thing to separate them from other os choices. It is disappointing they are changing so much.

Have a feeling Google isn't going to create a settings switch that flips it over to a "dark" or "night" mode. The closest thing you get is in the accessibility settings with "inverted colors" mode, but that just makes everything look bad overall.

With as much time and effort goes into this design, theyre not going to spend extra time doing it all over again in a dark color scheme.

I assume "inverted colours" also flips things which are already white on black? That would halfway defeat the point...

Apps like this very one kind of show the goog up with having awesome night modes, though I am aware it's completely different skinning the whole OS I can't see it being THAT much more work...

Posted via Android Central App

Which is one of the reasons I like the HTC sense skin. I hope HTC can incorporate L but still keep it's look.

Are you speaking of the inverted colour accessibility option mentioned above? I'm old schooling with an N4 and a 2012 N7 so I haven't had a chance to play with L.

Posted via Android Central App

I'm looking forward to heads-up notifications. I hate it when the wife calls me while I'm playing Piano Tiles and it throws off my game. Now I can finally get under 5 seconds!

Tapping the mobile data network in quick settings just takes you to the data usage screen. That screen has a mobile data toggle like it always has, if you'd like to use that there.

Though I've not used it yet, the more I see of L the less I like it. Though I'm probably in the minority.

EDIT: I do like the new way the quick settings shade works though, to give credit where due.

Posted via Android Central App

Maybe I just need time to get used to it, but from what I've seen I'm not really liking the look of it either, for the most part. At least there is the option of custom ROMs.

Posted via Android Central App

You're not alone everyone us very split on L a helluva lot of people like and just as many don't like it (hates a strong word)

Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 running Android L or Samsung galaxy S5

Not that I am expecting to get this on my Motorola Droid MAXX, but how would these work with active display, like the Moto X?

Posted via Android Central App

Why do I have a feeling tons of developers will mark their notifications "max" unnecessarily?

Posted via Android Central App

^^^^
This
Hopefully there will be a way to change that in the app itself.

From the Death Star using my LG G2

Yeah sadly I'm afraid many apps may do this unnecessarily — we'll have to see how much Google cracks down on this. That's when you choose to just not use the app because the developer isn't doing thing correctly, I'm afraid.

It's also possible that Google will incorporate something like the "Allow Notifications" check box in the app settings pane. Maybe a new one that says "Allow Heads Up Notifications" so that you can prevent an app from showing these types of notifications, but still allow "normal" ones? That seems like the "best" option, to me. Because, yeah, I can *totally* foresee some apps spamming "max priority" notifications at you all day.

If someone didn't say this, I was! Hopefully they add a button right next to the lowest setting on the slider. A must!

Lol. What does that have to do with *anything*? I actually use a 3rd party auto-brightness app called Lux. Sits in your system tray and gives you far more control than the standard auto-brightness.

When I'm at the theatre watching a movie to turn it all the way down, or when I'm out in the bright sun and need to turn it all the way up. Actually in a ton of situations now that I think of it.

Yeah man I just got the Pro version and it's awesome. The Night Mode and Cinema mode are great. I like how you can make the brightness 'negative' so you can go even lower than normal for really dark situations.

Yup. I've become the Lux evangelist lately. It's one of the most useful things that no one seems to know about, especially if you're photosensitive like me, and the lowest screen brightness is still uncomfortable in dimly lit places.

I usually leave it on, except if I'm at the theater or something when I overwrite it (since it never seems to go to the lowest on it's own), so pretty often (movie theaters are still cheap here).

I've seen/heard of Lux before, but it seemed unnecessarily complex to have a extra process going just for brightness adjustment... Maybe I should've tried it on my last two EVOs (always too bright) but on the Nexus 5 I'm generally happy with how auto handles it. I actually only turn it down at the theater to bother others as least as possible (and I only use my phone during previews), I guess it might be worth checking Lux out anyway for the Tasker plugin tho, could automate min brightness for the theater.

I can sympathize with the "unnecessary" mentality, but it's really not complex to actually "use". I'd recommend at least checking out the free version. I could never go without it on a phone, now.

Why they not make the background of each notification transparent?
white gray background hurt my eye in dark and i think it a bit ugly

I keep wondering why of all things Google didn't make these transparent. How will Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony...etc use these notifications. Will they be able to change the look, etc. I hope this among few other UI tweaks happen between now and release. UI wise I think this release still has a bit of tweaking which can be done.

Everything is freaking white.Expect all L android phones to have worse battery life unless manufacturers somehow increase battery capacity.Also my N5 with black background lasts a day so worried what the new white oriented design will do to it :-(

Posted via Android Central App on Google Nexus 7 2013

The colour scheme won't do anything to the battery life of the Nexus 5. It may affect devices with AMOLED displays, but that isn't what the Nexus 5 has.

However, how much time do you spend looking at the notifications compared to other activities that the new colour scheme would make a big difference to battery life (on AMOLED devices) anyway?

Posted via Android Central App

I am not able to activate my lock screen. Neither am I able to pull down notifications from above. I flashed the factory image using NRT. Is that the reason I am facing these issues?

Posted via Android Central App

So...they removed the "remove all notifications" button, which I use more than tapping on notifications individually, they put a cast button and still haven't figured out how to put in a flashlight button.

Seems it's always two steps forward, on step back with Google.

Remember that this software is still several months from actual release. It is possible that they will incorporate a "clear all" button before release. It's also possible that there is (or is planned to be) some kind of gesture to make this happen, and no one realizes it yet. Just a thought. Let's not panic just yet.

So... Could anyone tell me if there is or there isn't point of getting "L" now or should i wait for stable/final ver. ?

Well on one hand current apps are compatible and work very well including Android central Facebook Twitter even mx player and performance is ALMOST as good as Kitkat but there's a lot of omissions such as dismiss all and lock screen widgets to name a few

Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 running Android L or Samsung galaxy S5

If you don't have some need (like a developer testing apps) I would recommend against it. There's almost guaranteed to be some "quirks" since this isn't yet a finished product.

I predict a lot of max priority notifications incoming especially from social media. I wish they would put in a quick to use mute button.

I'm hoping they do something like they did in 4.3 with the "Allow Notifications" check box in the app settings pane. Maybe a separate check box that would allow us to disable just the heads up notifications for an app, and make all of those standard notifications.

While I have to agree about battery life, if it's hurting your eyes then you probably need to turn your screen brightness down.

Can't wait to see what HTC does with Sense 7 when we are likely to really see HTC's take on it.

Posted via Android Central App

Anyone else think that giving developers control of notification priority instead of users is a mistake? I really don't trust companies like Facebook and those terrible freemium games not to treat their notifications like max priority. I do hope there is still the option to disable all notifications from a specific app.

Also I want more dismiss all buttons NOT less. Please Google don't go backwards. Notifications were great before.

Posted via Android Central App

Nice to see such a major update. The quick settings menu in the notification panel on samsung phones is probably the best available. Everything is right there including brightness , auto or manual and it can be edited to include the most used . I hope that samsung keep it in the note 4.

During the first boot, did any one had minor UI related issues?
I selected language thrice to move away from that screen, while selecting the WiFi, there was some splash message that came and disappeared.

Overall the OS seems very impressive.... but long way to go to release the stable build....

seems many screens are still used from old builds, like mobile networks, emergency dialler etc.,

how many facing scrolling issue in settings? Say, visit the settings menu --> Dev options and when back to settings, not necessarily back into system group in settings menu... takes to the top...

while not in Battery saver, battery drain is pretty steep... if Battery saver is enabled for the same usage, its better...

My wifes AT&T S5 already does the floating notification while in an app. I think it's awesome. I like how Google is enabling it so your current app doesn't close when someone calls. While playing Simpson's Tapped Out that is the worst.

One step forward, one step back. Some of the. Changes are just dumb. There's no valid reason for moving the clock. Once you get used to looking at the clock in one spot, it should stay in that spot.

Taking away the ability to dismiss all notifications at once takes away valuable functionality. And why replace a single step function (two finger swipe), with a two step process to get to the quick settings? Changes that make things slower are not improvements.

Worst of all is letting developers decide the priority of pop up notifications. That should be a user decision. SMS may be real important to you, but not to me. Game notifications may be more important than email for some, the reverse for others.

Hopefully some of this will be fixed before "L" goes live. Or by the hacker community.

I like how this was implemented on the Moto X, it's a great feature in my eyes. A notification which you can press, get the gist of, and unlock (if needed) - going straight to the notification. But the base notification on screen is discreet vs. a card representation... not that I have a lot to hide, but I like the discretion as not everything in my family life needs to sit on display at the office.

Nice; most of the same features as Motorola's Active Display, a couple additional capabilities to boot.

If it's baked into Android like this, all the better.

It's not "baked in". Just an app you can install, but it does give any device (running 4.3+) the ability to have those "Active Notifications". Dev is very active and updates pretty frequently, too.

I will warn that it doesn't work quite a "seemlessly" on a 4.3 device. At least, not a year ago. It would sometimes popup while I was actually using the device, which was a little annoying, but it's a lot better on 4.4. Might even be fixed for 4.3, too. I don't know, since I got my Note 3 last November.

If you access the dialer from the lockscreen while security is enabled, do you have to enter a PIN to make a call? Please say yes...

Yes; it's been like that for a few iterations I believe... At least that's how it worked by my old Galaxy S1, and current Moto X.

Is there the ability to quick reply to a text message without leaving an app / game?

Posted via Android Central App

Anyone else realize that theres no slient mode? Theres do not disturb.. but then you get all these wonderful notification hidden: touch to show cards... Google, why would you remove silent mode :/

I would imagine you still have the ability to mute the notification sound, just like you can now. Do not disturb seems like something a little further. Like "I'm still going to be using the phone, but I don't want to be tempted to start checking email or replying to comments."

These new lockscreen notification features are interesting, but I'll miss the lockscreen widgets.

Posted via AC App on HTC One

I love how people make a big deal out of light and dark themes.

If you only knew how much effort went into these things....

Posted via Android Central App

Really disappointed to see removal of lockscreen widgets, that was one of the best features for me. Dashclock, shopping list, calendar, flashlight were really useful there.

I do use lockscreen widgets currently because it's the only way I can see my notifications in a similar fashion to my old Windows Phone. I like this redesign but that brightness control in its current iteration seems like a big blank waste of space. The notifications themselves seem too big or something, maybe it's the spacing of everything.

Does this mean that if I want to use widgets on my lock screen I will have to bypass the built in lock screen and go with a lock screen app? I like placing widgets on my lock screen, specially ICE (In case of emergency) apps as it lets someone know what to do if they find your phone. Also, being able to call your most used contacts directly from your lockscreen is very useful.

On a related subject, if I have a pasword, or pattern for unlocking, will I have to enter it when I click on the dialer or the camera? I would expect that at least the dialer asks for a password, otherwise security is not being taken into account.