Android 5.1 Changes: Google, Wear are My Notifications?

You read that correctly, wear, as in Android Wear. I am starting this article with my biggest grievance with 5.1. With the latest update to Lollipop, Android 5.1, Google fixed several bugs, made a few UI improvements, but left the annoying notification system from 5.0 mostly in tact. One of the most annoying things in Android 5.0 for me was that you could not mute your phone if you wanted to still get a notification LED telling you have notifications waiting. As a professor I often need to leave my phone off ring, off vibrate, on silent when lecturing, but I still want to see a notification LED letting me know I have an email waiting.

Getting back to my title, the notifications problem in Lollipop was made worse by the fact that turning your phone on silent mode also silences your Android Wear watch! This seems very counterintuitive on several levels. The Nexus 6 (the phone I use with my Moto 360) is incredibly loud when it vibrates, so leaving my phone on priority mode in order to get notifications on my Moto 360 is not an option while giving a lecture. This is the feature I hoped Google would bring to Android 5.1, an easy way to see notifications on your watch while silencing your connected phone. I’m fully aware of work-arounds such as “Mute Connected Phone” in the Android Wear app, but this also seems to remove the notification LED on the phone for now. I hope that Google will either simplify some of the options in the Lollipop notifications system or overhaul them in future point updates to the OS. Now, on to the good news!

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Jeff Springer

"I am currently a researcher and Adjunct Professor at Arizona State University and Grand Canyon University. I fell in love with Android with the Nexus One release and realized that it was superior to iOS in all the ways I care about. I still use a Mac (and an iPhone for the camera), but my Apple tech products pale in comparison to my number of Android devices (watches, tablets, and phones). When I’m not rooting/modding one of my many Android phones or doing math/programming, you can find me taking in Phoenix Suns/Arizona Diamondbacks games in downtown Phoenix, and drinking good beer!"