Android L preview: Do Not Disturb mode

Proper system-level "do not disturb" settings have been a hit-or-miss feature depending on what manufacturer's phone you choose, and was a completely missing feature on stock Android devices — a void filled by countless free and paid third-party apps that have done a great job. For as good as these apps are, there's really nothing that can beat a well-done system settings pane that lets you cancel out sounds, calls and notifications on your schedule at the lowest level.

Luckily one of the many improvements in Android L is the inclusion of a proper Do Not Disturb mode, which helps you keep your phone silent when it needs to be whether that's overnight on a schedule or just for a limited one-off situation.

Enable and tweak Do Not Disturb

There are three ways to set up Do Not Disturb in the current release of the Android L Developer Preview, which seems like a lot honestly but in practice doesn't seem to cause confusion. The primary way is from the settings menu, where it can be found (at least for now) under the Sounds & Notifications area. Once there, you can turn Do Not Disturb on and off, and tweak the parameters for what you want your phone to do when the setting is enabled.

Your first options are to choose whether or not phone calls and text messages are suppressed while Do Not Disturb is enabled, and in either case you can choose to allow calls and texts from either starred contacts or everyone in your contact list. The next options are for scheduled times to turn on Do Not Disturb — you can choose between every night, just week nights or never, and set specific start end end dates. Unfortunately (though possibly for simplicity reasons) you can't set different schedules for specific days at this point.

Your other two options for enabling Do Not Disturb are found from the notification pane and the volume keys. When you swipe down the notification pane and flip over to the quick settings, you'll see a "Notifications" slot with a bell icon — tap it and you'll be taken to a separate panel where you can adjust notification volume or enable Do Not Disturb. Tapping the Do Not Disturb icon reveals a panel that lets you turn on the feature for a limited time, anywhere between 15 minutes and eight hours, or keep Do Not Disturb on until you turn it off again. You can get the same exact screen with the volume pop-up that comes when you hit the volume keys on your device.

Managing notifications with Do Not Disturb on

After you've found your preferred way to turn on Do Not Disturb, this is where the magic happens. While Do Not Disturb is enabled, your phone will be completely silent for any notifications — within the parameters that you chose in the settings — that arrive. Notifications are also hidden visually on the device, grouped into a single notification that simply says "notifications hidden" with the number of notifications that were blocked. You said you didn't want to be disturbed, right? Well, you won't be — audibly or visually.

A tap on the single hidden notification expands to show all of the notifications you received. If you wait until your scheduled Do Not Disturb time is over or turn it off manually, you'll see all of your notifications expanded automatically when you unlock your phone. It's a little jarring at first, as normally you think of a basic Do Not Disturb setting as simply silencing your phone and not bothering with the notification pane at all. But once you get used to how it works and realize your notifications aren't being touched but simply hidden until you actually need to see them, it's great.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • The iPhone 5S is better.
  • Hooray for the iPhone 5s. I'm sure its mother is proud. Android: It will make you a sexual tyrannosaurs, just like me.
  • Thanks for that well thought out and detailed explanation on why you think the iPhone is better. Please read more and post less. Thanks.
  • This, ladies and gentlemen, is a textbook example of trolling.
  • Especially from a Nexus owner
  • True.
  • Wow. Is there some sort of troll professional courtesy?
  • It's about time Google made this native to Android. I have had this feature on past iPhones and currently on my HTC M8 and it is an absolute must.
  • and just about every other OEM. LG, Samsung, Sony...they all have it except the Barebones vanilla android.
  • Yeah, I am excited to see this finally in the stock ROM. Now I don't have to choose between a Nexus device and a built-in DND mode. On the other hand, it's a little disheartening to see that you can't whitelist anyone but starred contacts, so it's about as bare bones as the one on the Moto X. At least you can set weeknights and weekends separately though, and also turn it on manually, neither of which are possible on the Moto X.
  • ^Don't feed the troll Speaking of notifications, my only current gripe with L is they removed the Clear All Notifications button (unless I'm blind and just can't find it anymore). Which is a pain in the arse now because I had a ton of apps update and I have to sit there and clear them one by one.
  • This was surely a mistake :) I'm hopping for a clear all buton in the new task switcher as well.
  • its for the devs my guess is they overlooked it or even excluded it, and it'll be back for the all consumers. or maybe they just wanted to make sure you see how sexy the notifications are now. the pane is quite sexy
  • This may be true. My apps don't use notifications, but if they did, I would want to be sure that the clear all worked with them, or likewise didn't if they needed to be persistent.
  • Your wish has been granted:
  • Awesome. Shame it essentially takes up the space of a whole notification (which I understand is basically the limitation of a 3rd party app for clearing them), but sweet nonetheless. Is there anything that guy can't do?
  • Is there a similar app in the store that can provide this functionality?
  • There are tons of them that replicate most of it minus visually hiding the notifications... I've used two different apps that will pop up when I scroll all the way to silent/vibrate with the volume buttons and ask for how long. I think I actually prefer that too, there doesn't seem to be a way to leave vibration on with Google's DND and have it return the ringer to normal after X hours. Kind of a weakness IMO...
  • Try: Or: Neither one requires special permissions or anything, second one looks nicer but they both look Holo. They'll pop up when you hold button the volume down to silence or even if you go into silence or vibrate thru a widget, can just dismiss with back button if you don't wanna set a timer. Actually quicker to set a timed silence period with either than thru any of Google's three paths to DND (if only by a tap or two).
  • Will this feature have any integration with Google Calendar where I can set it to enable DND whenever I'm listed as "busy?"
  • This!!!
  • This is a fantastic option! I personally wouldn't use it though since not all calendar events are meetings for me. Posted via Android Central App
  • I use Tasker to put my phone in Silent mode when I am listed as Busy on the Calendar, but not if I have an event scheduled where I am marked as Available. All I have to do is choose Busy or Available when i create the Calendar event, and it does what I want. I have a different Tasker setup for night time: the phone goes into Silent mode during set hours at night, but only if it is plugged in to charge. So if I stay up later than usual, it doesn't kick in until I plug in the phone when i do go to bed, and it automatically comes back out of the sleep mode when I unplug the phone in the morning, whatever time that happens to be. My busy-on-calendar scenario doesn't let any calls through at all (because I use it for times when I really cannot have it ringing -- teaching a class, for example), and my night time setup lets through calls from certain people I would like to be able to reach me in a night time emergency. My phone (Moto X) has a Sleep Mode and Meeting Mode, and it's great to see them baking DND into Android L, but I can do more with Tasker.
  • Sleek setup.
  • This came enabled on my HTC One (m7) with the Sense 6 update but sometimes it's available within the calendar meeting and sometimes it isn't. Can't figure out what's up. Posted via Android Central App
  • Agreed - this was a basic feature of Windows Mobile from 2004... one that I really miss... K
  • try timeriffic.. its free .. I use it to shut off sync at night it silences my GMAIL .. all other functions work text/whatsapp/phone
  • Really looking forward to this feature for the Nexus. I have had to rely on third party apps to do this, but would much prefer this system level function. I use Timeriffic currently to manage night sounds and it has always worked well with little fuss. But I'm ready to retire it in favor of a proper function. Hooray! Posted via Android Central App on my white Nexus 4 with StraightTalk ATT
  • Been using timeriffic for years, great app Posted via Android Central App
  • It's about time Google offered this. I have had this with the M7 and M8. Posted via Android Central App
  • This DND mode looks like it will be perfect for what I need. However, I (believe it or not) miss the old days of Froyo, where we actually had separate volumes for Ringtones and Notifications. That worked beautifully. Didn't need 3rd party apps until they did away with that in favor of a combined volume.
  • They need to make a Bluetooth-enabled towel. When I put said towel on my door my phone will automatically go into Do Not Disturb. Kickstarter here I come.
  • You could easily accomplish that with an NFC tag (or a couple), much cheaper and easier than BT.
  • Alas, it was a joke.
  • Is there no way to leave vibration on but silence the ringer when using the DND mode? Or does it not touch vibration at all? Seems incomplete if the former...
  • I don't know about the way Google is doing it up on my old M7 and my current M8 DND silecnes everything and turns off vibrate. You can add exceptions for it to ring if a certain person calls or if someone calls like twice in the span of like 10 minutes. Posted via Android Central App
  • What about Alarms? My HTC One now has Do Not Disturb. I set it for 11pm-5:30am. Then later I set an alarm for 5:20am for getting up early to go in to work early for a project. Couldn't figure out why the alarm wasn't going off until 5:40am. If one purpose of Do Not Disturb is so you can sleep through the night, it still needs to allow your alarm to go off to wake you up. :) TD
  • About time Google has added this to Android. I had this on my M7 and on my M8. One reason I will always prefer Sense to stock. Too many useful features. Posted via Android Central App
  • Sense didn't actually get that until pretty recently tho, One X and EVO LTE didn't have it. Not bashing it, just saying, not the greatest example of why Sense is better since they only recently added it and it's something easily accomplished with an app. The Sense lock screen is a way better example for instance...
  • True but I think you missed the point of what I was saying. Posted via Android Central App
  • Your point is you prefer the value add features in Sense, I'm saying it's a poor example of that - this being a feature that they only had about a year or two earlier (and one that's easily acquired either way, unlike other Sense stuff). Camera UI, lock screen, even motion sensing stuff (turning the phone upside down to quiet it) are all longer standing Sense features that aren't quite as easy to replicate on stock (Tasker isn't for everyone, and the stock lock screen has evolved slowly and in all kinds of directions with each release, tho closer than ever to Sense on L which I like).
  • No that was not the point. Posted HTC One M8 via Android Central App
  • Looking forward to a do not disturb mode for stock android long time coming Posted via Android Central App
  • This was, by far, my most wanted feature in stock Android. Really glad to see that it's coming in L.
  • You can also choose to show notifications while do not disturb is on by going to "showing notification" under sound & notifications