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Inside Android M's new Do Not Disturb mode

The "interruptions" system in Android Lollipop is among the OS's more controversial features, obscuring basic mute functionality behind a new layer of choices — "all," "priority" or "none." Android 5.1 brought some changes to interruptions, making it easier to understand how they work and change when the various modes are active. But for average users it still seemed like a complicated, over-engineered solution to a problem that didn't really exist to begin with.

Enter Android M. At the recent Google I/O keynote, Google's Dave Burke seemed to acknowledge that the changes to Lollipop's volume setup hadn't been particularly well received, and promised a "simplified" system in the next version of the OS.

While nothing here should be considered finalized — remember, 'M' is still a developer preview — there are enough interesting changes to mull over. We'll take a closer look after the break.

Do Not Disturb

'Interruptions' is now 'Do Not Disturb'

Lollipop's interruptions system has been consolidated under a new feature — Do Not Disturb. In the first Android M developer preview, DND mode can be to toggled through the quick settings menu in the notification shade, and tapping this new icon allows you to change between the various modes.

  • Priority only works like Lollipop's priority mode, letting you block all interruptions except those from people and apps you consider important.
  • Total silence works like the "none" setting in Lollipop, blocking everything including alarms.
  • Alarms only is new in M and blocks everything except alarms

In the first developer preview the option to switch between these modes is only available in the quick settings area, not through the Settings app. The Settings > Sound & notification > Do not disturb menu is just used to set what gets through in "Priority only" mode, and control automatic DND rules.

Do Not Disturb

Mute mode in Android M

While it isn't labeled as such, mute mode is basically back in M

While it isn't labeled as such, mute mode is basically back in the current M preview. Provided DND mode isn't enabled, pressing the volume down key again with the volume level set to vibrate will activate the "alarms only" DND mode until you specify otherwise. This means you won't be interrupted by calls, emails and other notifications overnight, but your alarms will still fire the next morning.

Priority interruptions haven't gone away ...

... But they are a little less discoverable in the current M preview. You can set "priority only" mode in the quick settings area of the notification shade, and control which sounds and alerts get through by tapping "more settings," or heading to Settings > Sound & notification > Do not disturb. The new DND menu under quick settings lets you set each mode indefinitely, or for a specified number of hours.

You can choose to allow messages or calls from anyone, only contact, only starred contacts, or no-one, and include or exclude reminders and events as well. And new in M is the ability to allow a call in priority mode if the same person calls a second time within 15 minutes.

The current M build no longer has the option to switch between the various DND modes in the volume slider, as was the case in Lollipop. It's still pretty easy to change, but you have to know where to look.

Do Not Disturb

Automatic rules

Automatic rules for Do Not Disturb are new in Android M. Found under the Settings > Sound & notification > Do not disturb > Automatic rules, this feature lets you set specific DND modes based on certain conditions, for example certain times on specific days, or during events on one of your Google calendars.

It's a natural extension of the features we saw in Lollipop, and automatic rules should make it easier to use DND without manually hopping between modes.

Things can and probably will change

Android M is still in the developer preview stage, so what we see here shouldn't be considered final. We'll see more preview builds before M arrives later in the year, and manufacturers can and will change this stuff too, just as they have with interruptions in Android 5.0 and 5.1.

Nevertheless, Google's new Do Not Disturb mode is a step forward for one of Android's least-loved features. And while can take a while to wrap your head around, Android M's implementation is much more logical.

How do you like Lollipop's interruptions system? Any thoughts on what we've seen so far in Android M? Shout out in the comments!

MORE: Everything you need to know about Android M

Alex Dobie
Alex Dobie

Alex is global Executive Editor for Android Central, and is usually found in the UK. He has been blogging since before it was called that, and currently most of his time is spent leading video for AC, which involves pointing a camera at phones and speaking words at a microphone. He would just love to hear your thoughts at alex@androidcentral.com, or on the social things at @alexdobie.

81 Comments
  • Simple is good
    KISD Posted via My G2
  • Keep it simple dumbass woot woot Posted via the Android Central App
  • Automatic priority mode during my calendar events is something I'm really looking forward to.
  • Me too. Always wished that there was a toggle that I could switch on that would let my phone look at my Google calendar and then silence itself whenever it found an event that was labeled "busy". While this new implementation is not exactly what I'd like, it's a heck of a lot closer that anything that Android's had before
  • Moto assistance does this already, and better. Oh and did it while on KitKat so... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Our boys are struggling. Need to get healthy. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes! Posted via the Android Central App
  • i dont understand why this has to be so difficult. Volume button down all the way should go to mute, one step up from that should be vibrate, and volume levels after that. i dont need any of this crap lol
  • It amazes me a multi billion dollar company can't figure out that is what most people want. No one complained during the pre-kitkat days when it worked like that. This new system should be an additional option, it shouldn't have replaced anything.
  • It's nice to go into meetings and really not be sure what your phone might do because the system is not intuitive whatsoever.
  • Exactly! Notifications wasn't a problem on kit kat.. Posted via Android Central App
  • Just give me the option to put it back to the old simple, straight forward mute system! I have no use for nor patience to learn/deal with this over-engineered mess. :(
  • Well it's fixed now in M. Now when you click down again on vibrate it goes to alarms only, which is mute. Posted via Android Central App
  • I went back to Kitkat because of this nonsense. Not missing Lollipoop in the least. My next phone will have M, and I'm happy to stay with the Note 4 on Kitkat until then.
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • ? my note 4 on lollipop has the regular old "sound, vibrate, mute". i've never had to mess with this crap. Figured it was touchwiz or something.
  • It's a mess on mine. Do Not Disturb, though disabled, turns itself on and I miss alarms in the morning. Plus, i get 30% less battery life or more. Kitkat is just fine. I can wait for this to get sorted out.
  • Luckily Samsung did it right Posted via the Android Central App
  • Is it difficult to go back to kit Kat? I'm a little hesitant in case I do something wrong, but I'm with you on this one as well, my Note 4 was perfect using kit Kat. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Do Not Disturb may have its fair share of haters, but I came from a BlackBerry where I had this thing called Profiles. I wanted to be able to get phone calls without making everything else go off along with it. This is why I now use DND...it's exactly like profiles and I can set it to start working at a certain time. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yep loved it. I have the Passport and I can do all the DND from the settings PLUS set individual sounds for text, email, or other messaging for a contact. Wish Samsung would do something like this too. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah Pay Blackberry for the IP to use Profiles in Android. Make it an app for those that don't want to use it. Posted from my XT1080M
  • And it worked perfectly... One of first things I missed when u left blackberry Posted via the Android Central App
  • As long as whatever they end up implementing allows me to untether the notification settings between my phone and my watch so I can mute the phone and still get buzzed on my wrist I'll be happy.
  • There's an option in the settings of the wear app to mute the connected phone. I think that's what you are looking for! Posted via Android Central App
  • Yeah. Not *quite* the same thing though. It's dependent on the device having connectivity to the watch, for one. Realistically, I suppose what I'm asking for more than anything is simply a way to untether the volume settings of my phone and watch. Let me silence either or both depending on what I actually need silenced.
  • About time. I always hated putting my Nexus 6 into DND mode at night, then lying there in bed using it for a few more minutes. Click click, clack, all the noises still work. Click on a video? Sound blasts from the speakers. DND should be dead silent except for alarms and/or priority calls/messages. Just shut everything else off, as in "Do not disturb" me or anyone. That's what I asked for to begin with!
  • I wish that it was more like Samsung's old blocking mode where you can pick individual contacts. I only have a few out of my favorites list that I would want to wake me.
  • Yes, this has really disappointed me with regard to the update. Posted via the Android Central App
  • it's still a whole lot of nonsense for a non-issue. if it ain't broke... Posted via the Android Central App
  • The option for changing DND needs be there when pressing the Volume keys.. Putting it in the QS is just stupid.. Interruptions worked so well for changing into None when needed..
  • Samsung block mode was the best Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm also hoping Do not disturb gets relocated back to the volume slider, like in Lollipop. It seems like it would coexist just fine with the new changes.
  • I never cared for the fact that I'm always changing my volume when I only wanted to change from All to Priority! Although I think dnd should be changable in quick settings and in settings. m.
  • Could anyone confirm if LED notifications still flash during the new mute/"Alarms Only" mode?
  • I'd like to know as well though I use light flow and that developer seems to give great options for having the light show in whatever mode you want.
  • Yes, the LED still blinks and if the ambient display option is enabled then the screen also turns on. But there is no sound or vibration while in the alarms only mode.
  • I love priority only as it is now in Lollipop. Glad it's still there in M but kinda sucks that you can't turn it on and off from the volume keys. I work nights and in the past had to make different ring tones for different people that I wanted to be able to get hold of me while I sleep during the day. With the phone on mute (LG G2) only those would ring through. With priority I just "star them" favorite them and they come through while all others don't. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Can I just pull down the notification shade and choose between sound with vibrate and just vibrate? Why does it have to be so complicated? Posted via the Android Central App
  • As long as dnd is fixed the way HTC did it in kitkat I'm happy. If they do it even better then nothing like it.
  • I want notifications but I don't want them to make a noise or vibrate. This still isn't possible? Ridiculous Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's possible in Lollipop. Put interruptions on "none" and you'll get the notification without a sound or vibration. Phone calls will still pop up on your screen even if interruptions are on "none".
  • Kitkat is way better than Lollipop in taste Posted via the Android Central App
  • I agree with lots of people saying that they like the old system, and that this new one seems over-engineered. However, for someone like me who wants a built in solution to automatically mute my phone at work for specific times, but still allow important information through, I appreciate this feature. But mute shouldn't be so difficult for the people that simply want to mute on demand.
  • Most people have no problem with that feature but it shouldn't be integrated with the volume keys. It should be enabled through settings or a quick toggle.
  • I think it's more intuitive when all of the notification settings are in the same place and accessible with one press of the volume rocker. Segregating Do Not Disturb in the quick settings pane is just sloppy.
  • Most people just want ring, vibrate and silent (excluding alarms). It's quick, simple and intuitive. Anything more complicated than that should be in the settings menu.
  • I wish they'd fix Lollipop before working on M. Posted via the Android Central App on the Galaxy S6 until the G4 arrives.
  • M is the fixed lollipop.
  • It's like windows vista to windows 7. By the end lollipop is almost OK but there next version will be the version people like.
  • I meant "their" but the AC website is worthless to try to edit posts on a phone...
  • Instead of assuming what users want, why doesn't Google just simply ask? Just a simple and basic part of the discovery and information gathering part of the project to address what should be a simple and basic feature.
  • This is what engineers do, they make things more complicated than they have to be. They do not think like normal folk, for better or worse. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I would like to chime in here. I own a Galaxy Nexus that hasn't recieved any 5.x updates (kitkat for that matter).
    My girl owns a GS5, and was very angry when her phone updated and reflected these mute changes. I have a sort of purist opinion of this. We buy into the android (or windows..) environment for a great OS that doesn't overindulge in "user friendliness". My girl was showing signs of a typical Apple user, which is okay except for the fact that she has a flagship android device. Anyway, I think that Google did that to give us the option of customization. Obviously, an emergency communication should never, ever be muted imo. I mean, in life wer're talking about a phonecall that won't end someones life. This is the only problem necessary for Google to make that change in my opinion. Perhaps it's half baked, idk, but I'm not against it. I say, "figure it out... you want android don't you?"
  • I'm gonna be alone on this, but I liked Priority once I sorted my apps, and I'm happy that it'll be a quick toggle, but I vastly prefer the new system over sound/vibrate/mute.
  • It works OK but system sounds still get through which is annoying to me. Like if I throw my phone on a wireless charger it makes an obnoxious sound.
  • Agree, why is it so important for me to hear the charging-is-on sound? Totally unnecessary. Posted via Android Central App
  • DND mode is included on my new Galaxy S6. However, it's not as customizable as it was with Kit Kat. Therefore, I do not use it. I use an app called Agent instead. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Network mode only have 4g .....cannot make are call hp mega2 sm-g750f
  • If the phone rings in alarms only does the screen light up? Is alarms only basically the good old silent mode?
  • Just let me hold down the bloody volume switch! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Hmm they seem to be making this more and more complicated! Some folk want absolutely everything off (incl alarms), most want everything off apart from alarms overnight (so they can sleep but still be woken up) and others need to be able to be woken up by phone calls or alarms when on-call. Of course when you get apps like Facebook that still ignore priority notifications and shove message alerts down the media channel then you end up with things not working as desired!
  • KISS: Keep it Simple Shithead Posted via the Android Central App
  • Why are they still screwing with this, let me have mute, vibrate or the range of volume. This doesn't need to be fixed. Quit effing with it Google! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Oy, Google. What is wrong with a simple mute option? There are times when we just need the phone to STFU, like in a meeting or a church or temple. I can't believe I have to use a 3rd party app to make it that simple.
  • TouchWiz users are scratching their heads (and probably those using a few other OEM androids) because this is one of those things Google has embraced from its OEM partners.
  • Simple is why just about everyone hates it, Should be like old Nokia profiles but if not doing that you should at least be able to set your own variations or at least disable "Total silence" which is totally useless and dangerous.
  • So the big thing I want to know about Priority mode from 5.0.1 to M is this: If you set an app to allow interruptions in priority mode, does an interruption from that app still turn off priority mode and revert to "All"? This is the thing I find most frustrating with priority mode on 5.0.1. I have a couple apps I want to notify me when in priority mode. So I set them to be allowed to interrupt in priority mode. But every single time one of these apps issues an alert with priority enabled, it goes back to "All," even during downtime hours. It's really frustrating having to constantly switch priority mode back on.
  • I just don't see why they don't add a lot of these little features now. Posted via the Android Central App
  • My Xperia Z2 on 5.0.1 doesn't touch the alarm volume when you put it on silent. All it does is silence the ring volume, much like KitKat and earlier. Why you would want to silence alarms is beyond me. Why not just turn them off? Sony Xperia Z2
    Nvidia Sheild
    Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
  • "While it isn't labeled as such, mute mode is basically back in the current M preview. Provided DND mode isn't enabled, pressing the volume down key again with the volume level set to vibrate will activate the "alarms only" DND mode until you specify otherwise. This means you won't be interrupted by calls, emails and other notifications overnight, but your alarms will still fire the next morning." In this mode, will an android wear still vibrate? I want the system I used to have with my pebble. Phone -> Silent. Watch vibrates and alerts me.
  • Poor, poor Jerry....he's probably heartbroken. :( lol
  • I am mystified by Google's logic in altering the behavior of "do not disturb" mode (interruptions?) in Marshmallow. In Lollipop, all I had to do was tell my phone to shut up until the next alarm when it would return to normal operation. Now I apparently have to turn OFF the DND mode even after my alarm sounds so it now takes -many- more taps and, god forbid I forget to turn off DND mode and miss incoming calls and calendar event reminders. I don't see any way of creating a "rule" that says, "Shut the hell up until the next alarm and then all sounds back on". Am I missing something?
  • [double-post]
  • Anyone else have calls still ring through in "Alarms Only" mode? My phone can be specifically set to "Alarms Only" and calls still come through. At lunch time I often go to my Jeep to meditate, and I use a noisemaker over bluetooth. Even setting my phone to "Alarms Only," I still get calls through, on the very first call. Doesn't have to even be the "two tries in 15 minutes" or whatever that setting is. Using stock Marshmallow on Nexus 6.
  • Hi, please I would like this message reachs the programers of the latest version of Android. I have a Note 4 and it got updated a couple of months ago, but the most important function for me and many users, as I could read on internet, was the LED off during the Do Not Disturb mode. We used to have an option for that, but now we don't. It is really uncomfortable to wake during the night with that light blinking in front of you, but it is awesome to have the indicators during the day, but make it manually is not very funny in what we call smartphones. So please, fix it and put it back that option. Thanks for the attention. Hope this update comes soon.
  • I want to turn off the do not disturb PERMANENTLY! I find it totally useless. I can find apps to silence center the phone or just put it in airplane mode to silence it. How can I disable it?
  • Unfortunately the "update" means my phone randomly goes to dnd status. I reboot, it automatically goes to dnd. If the phone doesn't send my calls through, why do I even have it? I'd be better off with a POS Windows phone - at least I'd get my calls! I don't have it scheduled, checked that. I even reset back to factory specs and removed all apps. If anything it got WORSE after that. The "feature" is actually more of a nightmare.
  • They keep making it worse! I used to be able to hand pick the exceptions to the "do Not Disturb/blocking mode". With version 6, you can only select your favorites, not single people but the whole group. Why do they keep taking away functionality?
  • I also hate the fact that everytime they mess with my ring tone and the custom ring tones I have assigned to different people. Plus, I have to re-install a bunch of applications. It takes hours to recover from one of these updates.
  • I know this is an old article. I have the same pronlem as everyone else.
    I also hate the fact that everytime they mess with my ring tone and the custom ring tones I have assigned to different people. Plus, I have to re-install a bunch of applications. It takes hours to recover from one of these updates.
    They keep making it worse! I used to be able to hand pick the exceptions to the "do Not Disturb/blocking mode". With version 6, you can only select your favorites, not single people but the whole group.
    Why do they keep taking away functionality? Has ANYone figured out how to permanently remove dnd? I missed many calls yesterday and I did not turn dnd on.