There’s always something awesome happening on Android. There are killer apps, amazing games, and utilities unlike you’ll find on other platforms. The goal of the Google Play App Roundup is to find the best of the best in all those categories so you don’t have to hunt them down manually. Just click on the app name to head right to the Play Store.
This week we’ve got a new way to get notifications and two different, but very good new puzzle games.
Android notifications are already excellent as they currently stand. But they can always get better, right? The developer-friendly approach Google takes to apps makes it possible to graft new functionality onto the system, and Floating Notifications is an example of that. This is basically a take on Facebook’s Chat Heads feature, but it gathers notifications from any app you have installed.
Floating Notifications requires a little setup, but that’s a good thing. You wouldn't want notifications from any app on your phone popping up. After enabling the app as an accessibility service, you may choose which apps produce foreground notifications, and how they appear. You can also tweak almost anything about how the notification pop up looks and behaves.
Floating Notifications gives you very fine-grained control over exactly how intrusive the popups are. Each app has to be enabled, then you can check off the features you want. Long-pressing indicates what each option does. The app can do things like wake the screen up when certain apps produce notifications, show expanded notification text, stack multiple notifications, and even pin the notification icon for an app so it’s always accessible.
When an app receives a notification, the icon will appear on top of whatever you’re doing at the edge of the screen. This icon can be dragged anywhere on the screen or double tapped to dismiss. Tapping once opens the notification within the floating UI so you can see the contents. If there are multiple apps stacked, tapping also fans them out so you can select the one you want to interact with.
This app is not quite the same as Chat Heads, or the more expansive Halo feature from Paranoid Android. Floating Widgets doesn’t run the app in a window and never will. This is just notifications. If you tap on a notification to open it, the full app will open. Because of Android security restrictions, Floating Notifications cannot clear the notifications from the shade. If you only have a few apps piped into Floating Notifications, it shouldn’t be a problem.
This app seem to cause no additional battery drain, and it’s very snappy in practice. I rather like having Hangouts plugged into the floating system, which is surprising. I thought it would be annoying at first.
There is a 30-day free trial version of Floating Notifications in addition to the full app. It’s about $2 to use it beyond that time frame.