Want to see what notifications you received without having to unlock your device first or do anything other than take a glance at your phone? Say hello to active notifications! The Moto X is a device that became an Android favorite by offering a fusion of really cool hardware with a bunch of cool features that wouldn’t be possible without it. For example, the Moto X is still one of the few devices that has always-listening mode without battery drain, allowing you to say “Ok Google” even when the device is locked to bring up Google Now. Another useful and very well received feature of the Moto X is Active Display, meaning the device will show you what notifications you have even without you having to unlock the phone. Well, now you can simulate this feature in any KitKat device, just using a simple app, and with no meaningful impact on battery life!
The app we’ll be using to simulate this feature is called AcDisplay, and it’s super easy to get it to work. All you need is to install the app by clicking this link, or downloading it over here on XDA. Once installed, you’ll need to give the app permission to manage your notifications and make it an device administrator. This sounds scary, but it’s needed so that the app can lock and unlock the device at will, and do so without using much battery. To grant the access the app needs, just tap the “Notifications” and “Turn screen off” buttons highlighted in red, and the app will take you to the right place where you can toggle and allow access.
Once everything is setup, the red portion should disappear from the screen, meaning everything went well. Then, tap the toggle in the top right and turn it on, which should make a button appear at the bottom named “Send Test Notification”. You can tap this button to test the app and see if everything is working well, and how it looks like when enabled. The app should lock the device, and then wake it up showing a black screen with the current time, date, and some icons.
The way Active Display works is that when you have pending notifications, they will appear on the screen as icons, and you can interact with them to see what the notification is, if it’s worth unlocking the device for, and unlock it directly from there if you want to. This app does the same: when a notification comes in, it will wake up the display and show you the time and date, the various notification icons and the possibility to see what they are or take you directly to the corresponding app, to outright ignore them, or to unlock the device. Touching an icon will offer you the option to swipe up or down. Swiping up, towards the description of the notification, will take you to the app. In the bottom portion, you can see all the other notifications and their description. Dragging towards the padlock icon will unlock the device.
It’s an easy way to see what notifications you received, without you having to unlock your device first or do anything other than take a glance at your phone. The app is still in development, so there are no Settings to configure or anything like that. It’s fast, responsive, and works as it should. It’s also completely free, and once you install it, you may just not live without it. The fact it has no noticeable battery hit, and that it works automatically make it even better, so if you have a KitKat device, give it a shot and see if it works for you!