Control Your Notifications With Android Marshmallow

Keep the distractions to a minimum


Android Marshmallow is here, and while Google Now on Tap is the talk of the town, it has a few features that may seem less exciting, but they are real sanity savers. Marshmallow gives you better control over notifications and volume and makes your battery smarter. Here's how.

Managing Notifications

Ever feel like your smartphone is being a bit of a nag, distracting you from work and time with family and friends?

If it were a person bugging you, you could put up a do not disturb sign. Now, Android smartphones have their own Do Not Disturb mode, which you can customize to your liking. Select Do Not Disturb from the pull down menu and you get three options: Total Silence; Alarms Only; and Priority Only. The first option blocks all incoming calls, messages, and notifications, while the second options blocks everything except for alarms, that way you remain free from distractions, but you don't oversleep. This is a great way to prevent random, unimportant notifications from waking you in the middle of the night.

In Priority-Only mode, you can choose what slips through including alarms, reminders, events, messages and calls. You can even select which contacts are allowed to call or message you in this mode, and even allow for emergencies, by letting through contacts who call you twice in 15 minutes.

You set Do Not Disturb to stay on until you turn it off, or set a specific time frame in hours.

There's also what's called automatic rules, which you can create if you want this mode to turn on automatically at certain times, such as weekend, weeknight, or based on a specific event. It's one small way to take back your work-life balance.

Keeping the Volume Under Control

Second to notifications, volume is another smartphone nuisance.

So many times, I would get off a phone call and launch a game, only to have the game volume at a deafening level. Or, after turning game volume down, to find that my phone is completely silenced. Marshmallow gives you more granular control. When you adjust your smartphone's volume, you can access a drop down menu for notifications, music, and alarms. This way your alarm can be loud enough to wake you, but your notifications won't jolt you out of your seat. Having a dedicated music volume is also important, especially if you're using headphones.

Give Your Smartphone a Nap

Finally, Doze mode sounds a bit like Do Not Disturb, but it's actually completely different. This isn't a feature that you interact with; it's baked into Marshmallow. Doze puts your smartphone to sleep when it's sitting idle for a period of time, to conserve battery life. If you touch your phone or wake up the screen, you'll interrupt Doze mode, so it's likely in effect when you yourself are sleeping or any other time you're away from it for a period of time. This will prevent the "surprise your battery is dead even though you haven't used it all night" situation. Using Do Not Disturb mode will keep your smartphone from waking up too, when it's unattended.

Upgraded your OS to Marshmallow yet? Have you tried these features? Have you noticed improved battery life? Or restored sanity? I know I have.

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