Managing Notifications on Android Honeycomb

July 5, 2011, By Christian Cawley

One of the key differences between the tablet-based Android Honeycomb platform and the previous releases for mobile phones is the way in which the notifications area is used.

Owners of Android phones or unofficial Android 2.3 tablets will now that the notification area is found at the top of the screen; information about connectivity and battery life is found there, and by dragging the bar down you can see the status of downloads from the Market, any missed calls or text messages and emails, and even connect to a local wireless network.

With Honeycomb, however, all of this has changed. After all, with more screen real estate on offer, the inclusion of a pull down status menu isn’t really necessary. As such, the Honeycomb designers have moved the Notifications area to the bottom of the screen, along with the clock, and it is here that you can keep track of what is going on with your tablet, from checking emails and USB connectivity to downloading app updates from the Market.

Managing Notifications on Android Honeycomb

Understanding the Honeycomb Notifications Area

It may only seem like a small part of the screen (and indeed the operating system) but the Notifications area is a key element of Honeycomb, enabling you to save a lot of time.

For instance, when emails are setup on your tablet, the Notification area will display an icon to inform you that a new message has arrived; while you might prefer the option of having a widget for your email account, these cost processor time and battery life to keep them “live”, so having the information displayed elsewhere is very useful.

Additionally, you might want to connect your tablet to your PC via USB. There are various things you might do in this situation, but unless the USB icon is displayed in the Notification area, you will be unable to gain any benefit.

Possibly most importantly, the Android Market will inform you via the Notifications area if there are any updates available for apps that you have installed on your tablet.

Interacting with the Honeycomb Notifications

The great thing about the Notifications area, however, is that the items that are displayed can also be interacted with. This means that when a message comes in via email and it is briefly displayed as a popup before being added to the Notifications, you can tap the appropriate icon to read the summary before tapping once again to open the email client.

Similarly, if updates are available for apps, you can tap the Notification area icon for the Market, via the update message and then tap this to launch the Market. This vital system makes it very easy to deal with Android Honeycomb and any multitasking applications that you might have running, and should not be underestimated!

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