Android O Feature: Notification Channels can give Finer Control over Recommendations

Recommendations currently are not great. Many apps use the recommendation row on the launcher to push things that may seem popular, but things you don’t want. It gives you a bad experience and doesn’t help the content creators either. With Android O, this could change. Users may be given greater control over the kinds of notifications they receive and turn off certain types through the system.

The feature is called Notification Channels, and any app targeting Android O or higher will have to implement them for notifications to appear at all. This strict approach shows how serious the Android development team is taking this feature, and it’s easy to see why it’s important. Many apps like to spam you with notifications about things you don’t want. Yet if you disable notifications completely, you may miss out on useful information. Wouldn’t it be great to disable what you don’t want without losing everything?

A “channel” has its own label, a String identifying it for the user. All behavior is the same in a channel with regards to vibration, sound, etc. System level tools allow a user to turn off notifications per channel.

It’s easy to see how this applies to recommendations, which are just a type of notification. An app like YouTube may source recommendations from many places. It knows what’s trending, what’s in my “Watch Later” list, who I’m subscribed to, and what I’ve seen in the past. YouTube may recommend a few from each. However, I probably don’t want to watch what’s trending. I would be able to go to my notification settings and turn off notifications in the “Trending” channel while leaving on notifications for “Watch Later”. The experience I get is much more personalized and effective.

This may not come to Android TV. There doesn’t seem to be any UI to make this possible, but Android O is only in the first preview. Later iterations may include the necessary interfaces to make this happen. Any app that targets Android O will be making use of Notification Channels anyway, so I imagine the Android TV team will take the steps to help personalize your Android TV experience.

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Nick Felker

Nick Felker

Nick Felker is a student Electrical & Computer Engineering student at Rowan University (C/O 2017) and the student IEEE webmaster. When he's not studying, he is a software developer for the web and Android (Felker Tech). He has several open source projects on GitHub (http://github.com/fleker) Devices: Moto G-2013 Moto G-2015, Moto 360, Google ADT-1, Nexus 7-2013 (x2), Lenovo Laptop, Custom Desktop. Although he was an intern at Google, the content of this blog is entirely independent and his own thoughts.

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