Moto X Active Display Feature Now Available on AMOLED Devices Running Android 4.3

If you haven't heard of the Moto X yet, it's entirely possible that you've been living under a rock for the last couple of months.  Even if you aren't completely up to speed on the device, you've likely at least heard the name before, given the crazy amount of rumors that lead up to last Thursday's announcement.  You'll know then that while the Moto X can be considered top-of-the-line in some aspects, it still might fall short in some people's eyes for a multitude of reasons.  Regardless of all this, there are a few awesome software aspects of Motorola's new flagship device, namely the touchless controls, always-on voice search and the Active Notifications feature.  Thankfully when a feature is hot enough, the amazing folks over at XDA-Developers usually will get said feature working on more than the device it was originally designed for.  Case in point here with Active Notifications, in which a similar feature has now been created for phones running Android 4.3 and an AMOLED display.

Active Notifications works by only turning on part of the screen to let you know when a message is received, a call is missed, etc.  Your most important daily communication notifications are all displayed on the display panel in a very power friendly way.  This works because an AMOLED screen only turns on when it's displaying non-black colors; in other words since the screen is entirely black except for the white text and icons, only those white areas are actually drawing power.  This is the reason phones with AMOLED screens, like the majority of the Samsung Galaxy series phones, are usually recommended to have a black user interface.  This particular app doesn't look exactly the way Motorola designed their interface, but since it's the first version you can probably be pretty sure the developer will be making changes along the way.

Right now the app is restricted to phones running Android 4.3 only because of a new feature found in Android 4.3, the Notification Listener service.  This is a new service that allows apps like this one to use much less power while waiting for a notification to appear.  In other words the app doesn't do anything until a message notification, or one of the other notification events like a phone call, actually appear.  When that happens, the Notification Listener service informs the app that there's a new notification, and the app can then display said information.  Without this service the battery saving features aren't going to be quite as good, and as such unless there's significant interest the developer says they have no plans to port it to other versions of Android.  Unfortunately at this point if you want to use this particular app the list of phones officially running Android 4.3 that also have an AMOLED screen are short.  Only 2 devices right now carry these requirements: the Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy S4 Google Play edition.  Of course if you're familiar with XDA you might just be running a custom ROM based on Android 4.3 at this point, and again if your phone has an AMOLED screen you'll be able to use this app in that case.

Interested in getting the app?  Head on over to the original thread and download the Active Notifications APK file, and just install it like you would any other APK file found in the wild. The app is extremely powerful and can give notifications for every single app you have installed, given that said app provides notifications of course.  You can even unlock straight to the app that alerted you for extra convenience!  I've got it running on my Galaxy Nexus right now and it's working masterfully.  Give it a shot and let us know how it works for you!


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About the Author

Nick Sutrich

Event / Reviews Editor
Nick has written for Androidheadlines since 2013, is Review Editor for the site, and has traveled to many tech events across the world. His background is as Systems Administrator and overall technology enthusiast. Nick loves to review all kind of different devices but specializes in Android smartphones, smartphone camera reviews, and all things VR, both here on the site and on our YouTube channel. He is very passionate about smartphones and the continued improvement they can bring into people’s lives and is an expert on many different types of technologies, including mobile devices, VR, and cameras. Contact him at [email protected]