Ask AC: What's that star in my notification area?

Update: A lot of the headaches here are being addressed either by the manufacturers, or by Google itself in the upcoming "M" release of Android.

This question still hits our inbox from time to time, and it's worth a quick reminder. Android 5.0 Lollipop — at least in its current, unadulterated form — changes the way notifications work. Or, more specifically, there are now three ways they'll be presented to you. The firehose is simply called "All." That is, you'll see every notification there is to see in your notification area. You'll get a buzz, or hear the notification tone.

Then there's "Priority," which brings us back to the question at hand. You can designate specific apps as being "Priority," and then you'll get only "Priority" notifications.

So what's a "Priority" notification? And what's it have to do with that star up there? Glad you asked.

Priority notifications

Hit your volume rocker in Lollipop and you'll be greeted with the new notification options. When you choose "Priority," it plops that star up in your nav bar to remind you that you're only receiving Priority notifications. That's the easy part.

Notifications blur into Interruptions, which also blur into Downtime. Hit the little menu expander to next to "Indefinitely" and you'll get the option to switch back from Priority notifications after a certain amount of time. There's also a gear icon. Tap it, and you're taken into the "Interruptions" settings menu. (You can also get to it at Settings>Sound & Notification>Interruptions.


This is where you're able to choose whether you want events and reminders, calls and messages to be "Priority" notifications. Note that alarms are always treated as a Priority notification, which is damned important. You also have the option to receive calls from anyone, your starred (or "favorite") contacts only, or from anyone who's in your contacts list. (If you've made the mistake of polluting your actual contacts with Google+ circles, that could get interesting.)

App notifications

But what about other apps, you ask? You can set individual applications as being a Priority app by going to Settings>Sound & Notification>App notifications. Then pick the app you want to designate as "Priority," and throw the switch.

What about Downtime?


Back to the Interruptions menu for a second. The default Android 5.0 Lollipop do-not-disturb feature is called "Downtime." During Downtime you'll only receive Priority notifications. You can choose which days and at what times you'd like to automatically switch to Priority notifications.

This is all a bit much, isn't it?

Yep. It's a little complicated, and the settings are a bit spread out. Here's the important thing to remember: Priority notifications allow alarms to come through. Switching to "None" shuts everything off.

I've got Android 5.0 Lollipop and I'm not seeing any of this!

Also entirely possible! As we've seen in some of the early Lollipop updates — the HTC One M8, for example — not everybody's switching to this new scheme. Whether that's good or not is entirely up to you.

Phil Nickinson
  • Downtime sounds interesting, I'd like to set a schedule rather than having to remember to mute my phone, and of course forgetting to unmute it after. Course none of this matters yet as I'm still waiting for Samsung to push out 5.0 to my GN4.
  • I use the app "Trigger" to do this. At 8am on weekdays, the phone changes itself to vibrate only. Because I don't always leave work at the same time, I set it up to go back to full volume when it connects to my car's bluetooth.
  • I tried trigger and moved on to Automateit. The free version has just about everything I need, but can't bring myself to purchase it yet, though I'm very very close. While I use the downtime now, I would like to have multiple profiles. Sunday mornings, I like to turn everything off during church and back on again afterwards. I also have rules to allow calls from a variety of priority non-favorite contacts during downtime hours.
  • How is this questIon "still hitting your in box" when not very many people have lollipop? Posted via the Android Central App
  • This site has a ton of Nexus users and with the wide variety of Nexus devices that have lp, it is not unreasonable. /even I own one
    //not part of the Nexus cult though around here Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • I forget the numbers, but I think it's No. 2 for people using our app, anyway. Posted via Android Central App
  • Easily believed. Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • Hello buddy Posted via the Android Central App
  • Is #1 "When is [insert device here] getting Lollipop?"
  • I think he meant lollipop is the number 2 version of Android to use the AC app. Probably second only to KitKat Posted via the Android Central App
  • If you have a Nexus device, then you're a part of the Nexus cult ;)
  • I don't feel brainwashed enough yet. Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • Bow to the all mighty X. You feel it's siren call brother. Do not go against your inner nature. #YesNexus2k15 "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Yes. My Internet got worse.
  • Well that put me over the top. I want.. No NEED... to be a beta tester now and will never pick up another samdung device again. I am smashing them as we speak then going to best buy Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • Actually I ear a lot in the XDA forums.... Kind of sucks repeating yourself over and over to give them the answer... A lot of people run lollipop honestly. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I know it's a bit dickish to just say "Google it" but they kind of need to learn. Wubba lubba dub dub!
  • Or Google could have done a better job implementing it.... Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 via Android Central App
  • Not or, and. Both are true. Wubba lubba dub dub!
  • Heh, I came into here to write the exact same thing. Disregard Phil's elitist reply as well. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm really not sure what's "elitist" about facts and numbers. Please explain. (And to the 0.04 percent of people apparently running our app on Android Wear, mazel tov!)
  • It looks like he was referring to the number of people using nexus devices not the number of people running 5.0 Posted via the Android Central App
  • And then I learn about this "Google has ended WebView extension security support on Android versions Jelly Bean and below, leaving over 60 percent of its users at risk" and "This leaves the remaining 60 percent or so as 'legacy' and out of support for security patches from Google. In terms of solid numbers, it would appear that over 930 million Android phones are now out of official Google security patch support." Makes me and others wonder about Google. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I recommend reading this, then. Posted via Android Central App
  • Okay I only use Chrome browser, my phone came with some stock browser but I don't use it. I also have 4.4.2 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Shouldn't be Google that does it. Should be the OEM. Google was providing a service that the OEM should have been doing all along.
  • Alarms being turned off by "none" is idiotic. If they want to keep it simple then you also need to assign 2 priorities to a notification (for both in and out of down time).
  • I'm pretty sure the none option does not turn alarms off... Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm pretty sure you're wrong. In fact, so wrong that it even tells you no alarms when you select none. Though you could have also learned this by reading the article you're commenting on, God forbid. Posted via Android Central App
  • stand corrected
    was looking at the downtime picture... it's says "downtime (priority interruptions only)
    then looked at the interruption picture, it says, "alarms are always priority interruption"
    was thinking downtime was none... but it was the middle option instead.
    would've been better if the none picture was posted also showing that alarms would also be off...
  • I agree with this alarm setting going to "none". Ridiculous update for sure. Has anyone gotten this to work properly because I'm having a hard time for sure. I want the phone muted while sleeping, no calendar alerts, no text messaging alerts. But, when the alarm is set to go off I'd like the phone to actually make noise like it used to. Any ideas? GS5, Lollipop standard 5.0 from Verizon. Tried all options in this thread & my phone never makes noise unless I'm in "Sound" mode.......not vibrate, not mute. Thanks
  • That star is representative of why android is going backwards Posted via the Android Central App
  • OK.......... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ok, now whats the # icon in the notification area? Been getting a # sign on the latest CM12 nightlies
  • Its superuser.... Find the toggle in settings to turn it off. I'm on a different custom ROM so I don't know where it would be for you. Cheers Posted via the Android Central App
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • I believe it means you have an app with root access active, but I don't use cm so I'm not 100% Wubba lubba dub dub!
  • "It's a little complicated" That explains why I keep seeing comments that Lollipop is buggy. ;P May be they should stick to the K.I.S.S. principle. :D
  • All of the bugs probably don't help on that front either, though. Wubba lubba dub dub!
  • Service pack 3 due out in 3...2...1 Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • Hate on Lollipop as much as you want because you don't have it ;) but this isn't a bug, its a feature in Lollipop buddy... Posted via the Android Central App
  • While you are right on this point, lp is still buggy as hell. Yes I have it on my nexus 7. Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • I don't hate Lollipop and especially not because I don't have it (perfectly happy with KitKat, even Jelly Bean on a couple older devices). But I do hate overly complex feature sets that inherently lead to buggy software.
  • its the main reason I haven't got it. Went from CM11 to CM12 then back again to KK, really poor change
  • It really isn't. In fact this article just makes it more confusing than it actually is. Phil seems to imply that notifications are the same as interruptions, but they're not. Changing to none or priority affects your interruptions (sound, vibrate, and LED), not your notifications. You still get notifications. Posted via who-gives-a-s***
  • I am starting to get used to the new notifications bar. I kinda like the changes.!!! On my Nexus4 or 5Posted via the Android Central App
  • Lollipop's stupid. Even with all priority calls/texts set to off, I still get phone calls on priority mode. Can't wait until they work all the bugs out of this system, and/or do away with all this needlessly complicated stuff and allow us the old system.
  • Well read the article and learn to set it up properly! Posted via the Android Central App
  • There's nothing to change. Nothing is supposed to ring through, yet they still do. It's a bug.
  • Ok, maybe you have a bug. Sorry if i sounded rude... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Person hating on Lollipop because they don't have it #163673 and counting.... Posted via the Android Central App
  • I like the simple Quiet toggle in my pull down tray. Turns everything to silent except alarms. Easy as pie. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm running CM12 on my Moto G. I've gotten used to the new notifications, but frankly, it was a useless and unnecessary change. They "fixed" a problem that didn't exist. Posted from my Moto G.
  • So does that star appear when Priority mode is on?
  • If its not on "all" then it probably does Posted via the Android Central App
  • Not sure why people are having such a "hard" time with this, with little to no research had it figured out in less than a day, I expect better from so called nerds here
  • Also could add that a circle with a slash through it means "none" was selected in the volume menu. No symbol at all means "all" was selected in the volume menu.
  • Sheez! Do you do house calls?
    I need someone to teach me all this again when I eventually get L on my Note 3, or get a Note 4.
    Some of us are too old for this. I hope it becomes intuitive quickly, but I think it's just young Google hotshots making up stuff so it looks different. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Don't worry Samsung, LG and HTC will more than likely do it differently Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • Come on Asus Zenfone 5 developers, give us the LOLLIPOP ASAP!!! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Including the relevant icons (the star and "none") on the pop up when you hit the volume rocker would have eliminated this confusion. They still do a crappy job letting you know what priority means so it wouldn't solve that, but it'd be something. I see this question in the forums and on G+ all the time.... If you've confused the Android geeks you've really botched it up Google. Posted from my Nexus 7 2013 via Android Central App
  • I admit it. I had no idea what the star was for until I read this article. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I love Priority. When my crazy sister-in-law calls me at 10:30 pm to "chat" I don't hear the phone ring. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Did I not read this right or does this article never explicitly say what the star means? Does it mean I'm using this mode? I don't even know! I know about this priority junk now but not what the star actually signifies. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I still don't know either lol. You are not alone. Like a star symbol screams out what it must represent. Silly. When I put my old G2 in "Quiet" mode, I get a moon symbol..... indicates night. A star? Yes I am, thanks for pointing it out lmao.
  • "When you choose 'Priority,' it plops that star up in your nav bar to remind you that you're only receiving Priority notifications. That's the easy part."
  • Would a simple letter P not better represent a Priority mode? They are (Google) waaay over thinking the basics now.
  • I think they thought people would get it due to the way the contact app works when making people your favourites. No icon (all) means all contacts get through. A star icon (priority mode) shows that your starred contacts still get through. The Circle with a line in (none) means no entry in your contact app will get through. Android Central App | Nexus 5 | Powered by Android
  • If I can ask, does anyone know how to get the search bar in a specific color such as the blue in the picture above, or is it OEM specific? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I noticed that as well. I sure don't like the crazy bright white search bar that comes with lollipop. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Looks like they are using Action Launcher 3. It has an auto theme mode that tries to colour code according to your wallpaper. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Got Lollipop to my Samsung Galaxy S5. No set for alarms. KitKat (Blocing mode) had it, but now none. Have to use now 3rd party app like Nights Keeper from Google Play.
  • Thank you Posted via Android Central App
  • The main thing I miss with Lollipop is the mute. What were they thinking, I don't know
    In the old days I used Audio Manager Pro to set up profiles for work, home, weekend and it worked great.
    The only useful for me with the settings is the downtime
  • I really hate how Lollipop constantly switches me to priority mode because it lost the cell signal for a tenth of a second, or whatever the reason might be. I wish there was a way to force it to always stay on one setting.
  • Is there some other setting that would take your device out of "none" notification indefinitely? I always seem to have to re-trigger that to "none" on a daily basis. Something is taking out of this mode. Anyone else encounter this?
  • It Posted via the Android Central App
  • I use Llama to control when my S5 is on vibrate, silent, normal, etc. Since I upgraded to Lollipop, my notifications are so screwed up. Llama will be in Normal, but I hear no alert tone when I receive an email or text. I am no longer seeing alert lights when I have a new email or text. Is Downtime supposed to be a replacement for Llama, which I know is a third-party app, that can set volume and stuff based on locations?
  • I dont' get this and can't find it on my HTC One M7 (Sprint) which has been updated to Lollipop 5.0.2. Anyone know if it was taken away in Sense or if not, where I can find it? It's not under Settings/Sound & Notifications that I can find.
  • Worst change ever!
  • The worst. I wonder if Google has fired the person(s) responsible for this.
  • How can I get my M8 with Lollipop 5.0.2 pop up a notification on my screen or sound that I have a reminder set to remind me about a task or an apponitment specific time?
  • I have the new update it SUCKS. Make the alarm settings back to the way it was before so I can hear my alarm go off when I put my phone on silent without going through all this mess. You guys have one week or I am forever switching to iPhone and never buying another android again!
  • Unknown or restricted callers still ring when on priority. The caller is dialing my Google voice. Any thoughts
  • Thank you, I was wondering what that is :D
  • I have it set on priority interruptions and it says alarms are always considered priority interruptions. Alarm shows as though it is going off on screen, but absolutely no sound. Thoughts?
  • Hi, i having alarm issue, my alarm was not ringing. I am using andriod lolipope infinxe 02. I have seen star icone next to alarm icon top of the screen. That star icone was the issue. To solve this issue go to setting, in setting click sound & notification then click interruption then you can see 'priority only and none
  • I have a stare on my cell what do I do
  • I need to know what to do with a stare on what do I do with the star on my cell phone
  • Yeah, I tried everything in this & several other articles & NOTHING worked. My problem? When the phone is in "Interruption" or "Downtime" mode - all of a sudden my alarms stopped going off when they used to work just fine. I tried everything to fix it & at least now I know it's caused by a software update. Thanks, Android, Google, or whomever the hell you are! Finally I saw the "settings" gear in my alarm area today; there's a setting in there that says: "ALARM IN SILENT MODE" Check the box & your alarm should start working in downtime again, because mine works perfectly now. And the star means you're in Downtime or Do Not Disturb mode.