Nova Launcher's Dynamic Badges still beat Android Oreo's Notification Badges

For a long, long time, I hated unread counts on Android home screens. They were often inaccurate, they didn't always go away once you acted on them, and above all, they were unforgivably ugly on any home screen theme. These days, notification badges are a little less ugly and a little more consistent, but the notification badges on Android Oreo aren't the best to be found.

No, no, that honor belongs to Dynamic Badges on Nova Launcher.

Vanishing dots

You see those dots? Me neither.

Dynamic Badges are exactly that — vibrant, creative, and not boring.

Dynamic Badges came to Nova Launcher this past spring, and they have a few distinct advantages over Android Oreo's native equivalent. First and foremost, they're more vibrant. Oreo's notification badges pick a color for their badges from the icon that it'll be sitting on top of, which means that most of the time, these dots blend into the icon rather than standing out and reminding you to check your notifications.

Dynamic Badges will pull a color from the app's notification or pull an image from the notification, such as the profile pic of someone who messages you, allowing them to stand out against most icons, especially if you're using icon packs with limited color palettes.

This also means that notification badges can offer you information while standing out, by telling you who is pinging you before you open the notification shade or the app. I can see a dynamic badge from my boss and see that I need to reply to him quickly, or I can see a dynamic badge of a creeper I'm trying to avoid and ignore it. Dynamic Badges also work for media apps, giving me the album art of my currently playing song in Google Play Music or the thumbnail of the new video from one of my subscriptions on YouTube.

Vibrant and informative

By being more vibrant and more informative, Dynamic Badges have helped me see the value of unread badges and helped me keep things clean and functional on my many home screen themes. If there is a downside to Dynamic Badges, it's that if you have multiple badges in a folder, rather than getting the individual pictures or colors, you get a mini-folder of app icons on your folder icon telling you which apps in the folder have notifications. It's a small flaw, but it's still far better than boring, basic dots.

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Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

  • Yeah that's all nice and cool, but the problem is... as soon as you dismiss a notification, the badge disappears. This means that you might forget that you were supposed to respond to somebody and that's not very optional in my opinion (this is of course Google's fault). Not even the new snooze notification functionality in Android Oreo is that useful as it's so easy to mistakenly just swipe the notification away rather than snoozing it and also because you can only for a predetermined non-customizable amounts of time. It would have been way better if by e.g. swiping right you get rid of the notification and by e.g. swiping left you snooze it. The current implementation is somewhat idiotic. I would thus still take an accurate unread badge on my home screen rather than these sorry half-baked solutions.
  • And this is why I prefer the numbers instead of dynamic badges. Tesla unread still shows unread messages if you dismiss the notification.
  • Thanks, I've tried it before and it works okay, but unfortunately it doesn't support some apps including some of the more popular ones such as Evernote. I still wish Google would implement this in stock and give us the option whether we want to display unread counts or not - without needing to install a 3rd party app.
  • Evernote, what. Am I missing something? Evernote has for shortcuts.
  • I prefer the number badge because it stands out more in messy backgrounds (I'm using Bing's excellent image of the day wallpapers, and sometimes they can muddy the homescreen) and because the Dynamic Badges look to small to actually be useful. Or maybe I'm just used to Moto Display.
  • Dynamic badges all day long
  • I tried the Nova dynamic badges, but prefer the numeric badges as they are more customizable and easier to see against various backgrounds.
  • Where can I get that Now Playing widget and does it work with any player? I'd love it, but I want it to show my Google Play Music songs and my Pocket Casts podcast data...
  • Nova Launcher sucks. You need Lens Launcher.
  • BlackBerry spark is still the best. Legendary.