The Motorola Moto X has a feature called Active Notifications, which allows you to receive notifications
(from calls, email, messages, Facebook, etc) while your phone’s display is off.
When you miss a call, the Active Notification will pop up on your display, and you can tap that notification to see what it was. One of the best things about
this feature is that it’s very battery friendly. 

The same Active Notifications feature appeared later in an app that’s available for most
Android-based smartphones. Initially, the app was called ActiveNotification, but it was changed to DynamicNotifications (for obvious reasons).

If you have a Moto X, you’re in luck — Active Notifications
are already there to configure and use. However, if you have a different smartphone (one that’s running Android 4.1 or higher), you’ll have to install the app (and make a purchase for additional features). Let’s take a look at both systems.

Moto X

By default, Active Notifications are turned on. If you go
Settings | Active Notifications, you can set up this feature to best fit
your needs. The first thing you should do is make sure Active Display is
enabled (Figure A).

Figure A

Active Display settings for the Verizon-branded Motorola
Moto X.

With the system enabled, tap on Manage notification types.
In this new screen (Figure B), you can select which apps will access the Active Display. By default, all apps will be checked
(even though some apps can’t even communicate with the system). Unselected the apps that you don’t want to appear in Active Notifications.

Figure B

Select which apps can make use of the Active
Notifications system.

You’ll also notice that, by default, Automatically select
downloaded apps is enabled. Disable
this feature so that you can control what new apps get to use the system.

It’s also possible to set a specific period of time for the Sleep at night feature, which temporarily turns off the Active
Notifications system. To set a specific time, tap the Settings icon next to the
Sleep at night option. In the new window (Figure C), select the time
desired, and then tap Done.

Figure C

Configuring the Sleep at night time.

DynamicNotifications

Now, let’s set up a similar system on a Samsung
Galaxy S4 using the DynamicNotifications application.
There are two versions of this app — Free and Premium. The Premium version costs $1.99 (USD) and includes the following extras:

  • Breathing notifications: Undismissed
    notifications will reappear after two minutes
  • Hide additional details: Don’t show notification
    details on the notification screen
  • Use as lockscreen: Show the app every time you
    unlock your device
  • Auto-wake: Pulling the phone out of your pocket
    or picking it up from lying face down will display the notification screen
  • Edit Swipe actions: Choose the action for each
    swipe direction

Installation

Installing DynamicNotifications is simple. Just follow these
steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your device
  2. Search
    for “dynamicnotifications” (no quotes)
  3. Tap
    on the entry for DynamicNotifications
  4. Tap
    Install
  5. Tap
    Accept
  6. Allow
    the installation to complete

If you want to get the Premium version, you can purchase it from
within the Free version. To do this, open the app and scroll down to the Unlock
premium features section. Tap that, and then purchase the unlock key. Once
you’ve made the purchase, the extra features
will automatically be made available.

Setup

The first thing you need to do is open the app and enable
DynamicNotifications. In the apps main window (Figure D), slide the switch to ON in the Enable DynamicNotifications section.

Figure D

DynamicNotifications running on a Verizon-branded Galaxy
S4.

The next step is to allow applications to make use of the
system. Instead of “allowed” applications, we’ll be setting up “blocked” applications. Tap on the Manage blocked apps entry, and then select which apps
you want to allow (Figure E). Similar to the Moto X system, by default, all installed apps have access to the notification system. Go through the
entire list and disable those apps that you don’t want to appear in DynamicNotifications.

Figure E

Select which apps you want to have access to the
DynamicNotifications system.

Once you’ve purchased the Premium version, you can make use of some really cool features. Open the app and scroll down to the
lower portion of the configuration settings. Here you’ll find the “Breathing,” lockscreen, and Auto-wake options (Figure F).

Figure F

The Premium features of DynamicNotifications.

Enable the “Breathing” option, and then tap the settings
button. Now, you can set the interval for which unread notifications will
reappear. By default, the interval is two minutes and zero seconds. You can even
set that for single-digit hours.

You can also customize the swipe actions that are used for
DynamicNotifications. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open
    DynamicNotifications
  2. Scroll
    down and tap Edit swipe actions
  3. Swipe
    in any direction (Figure G)
  4. Select
    the action to be associated with that direction
  5. Tap
    Done

Figure G

You can set up four different swipe direction actions.

If you’re looking to get more control over how you interact
with your Android device’s lockscreen, you should get to know either Active
Notifications or DynamicNotifications. These two systems make your device more efficient and get your notifications to you faster and more
gracefully.

Do you have additional tips for working with Android notifications? Share your knowledge in the discussion thread below.