Android Oreo offers a number of nifty little features that, together, go a long way to make this latest iteration of the platform one of the most polished and user-friendly. One such feature expands the flexibility of notifications. The addition in question is Notification Categories, a feature that allows you to decide which aspects of an app can send information to the notification shade.
How this new addition works is simple. Say you have multiple email accounts associated with the Gmail app. What if only one of those accounts need to have a high notification priority and the rest do not? Or what if you want to configure any incoming email with an attachment to have low priority? With the new Categories option, you can now set that up.
Each app will offer different categories and some offer none. For example, Inbox doesn't offer categories, whereas the Twitter app offers categories for direct messages, emergency alerts, related to you and your tweets, followers and contacts, recommendations from Twitter, security, and tweets from people you follow. In other words, you'll need to test this out on various notifications you receive.
Remember, this feature only works in Android 8 (Oreo).
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How it works
Pull down your notification shade and long press one of the entries. When you do this, the ALL CATEGORIES entry will appear (Figure A).
Tap the ALL CATEGORIES button and the Category configuration window will appear for that particular app. From that window (Figure B), you can enable/disable the various notification categories.
Say, for example, you want to receive notifications of direct messages, but not anything else for the Twitter app. You can disable these categories, so to block out all other notifications for the app, by tapping the On/Off slider until everything is disabled, but direct messages.
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Once you've taken care of the configuration, tap the back arrow to dismiss the window. The notification categories have been applied and take effect immediately. Your notifications are now better suited to your needs.
Notification categories might not be a deal maker or breaker, but they certainly do go a very long way to make the Android experience more efficient and streamline. Go through all of your notifications to find out which apps offer categories, to see how granular you can get. As I mentioned, each app's notification categories will vary (and some don't offer the feature), so you may find some apps better support the feature than others. But for the apps that offer categories (and do them well), this option will be a must-use for many.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.