One of the highlights of the Android N release announcement yesterday, ok, aside from multi-window apps, was the Bundled Notifications and Direct Replies. As part of our look into Android N, here’s how they look and work.
As a spoiler, they work great and they’re quite functional. To go over the specifics, as a reminder, the announcement describes Bundled Notifications and Direct Replies as :
Direct reply notifications: The RemoteInput notification API, which was originally added for Android Wear, now works in N for phones and tablets. Using the RemoteInput API enables users to reply to incoming message notifications quickly and conveniently, without leaving the notification shade.
Bundled notifications – With N, you can use the Notification.Builder.setGroup() method to group notifications from the same app together – for example individual messages from a messaging app. Grouped notifications can be expanded into individual notifications by using a two-finger gesture or tapping the new expansion button.
Google has provided a lot of information included in the developer preview notes on developer.android.com so we can hope to see some implementations of this down the track.
Google has been playing with Direct Replies in their own apps, specifically the Android Text Messaging app Messages since they added the feature to Messages in April last year. With Android N, the ability to directly reply to a notification goes to system rather than app level.
How does it look? Well, Google actually released an update to Hangouts overnight – specifically to version 8.0 which supports both Direct Replies and Bundled Notifications. The actual notifcations for Direct Reply looks like this:
Getting an app to include Direct Replies isn’t automatic, developers will have to add code for the app to create a notification that supports direct reply, as well as act on it. There’s now an API called Remote.Input for this which developers can now call to add this functionality into their apps – now it’s the usual matter of waiting to see if it’s adopted.
Bundled Notifications are great. In Android N if you get a bunch of notifications from a single app, the notifications now show as a single notification which can be expanded if you want to deep dive into what each one is. Once you expand the notification with the familiar swipe, you can then choose to do something with it – archive it or if the developer has implemented it use the Direct Replies option.
Here’s how it looks in practice:
Both of these new features are pretty great but do depend on developer support being added. Google has only added support to Hangouts at this stage so we can’t wait for more Direct Reply options in Inbox or Gmail going forward.
Check out the Android N Archive