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Turn Your Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S4 or Other AMOLED Device Into a Moto X With New ActiveNotifications App


Do you have a device with an AMOLED screen that is running Android 4.3? Like say, the Galaxy Nexus or maybe a Galaxy S4 running a custom ROM (or the Google Play Edition running official 4.3)? As of this very moment, you can enjoy my favorite feature of the Moto X – Active Display (well, at least some parts of it). 

A developer has created an app called ActiveNotifications that uses AMOLED displays on any device to create a similar experience to what you would find on the Moto X. The notifications show previews with a single press, can be swiped into or away, and shouldn’t drain your battery since the app won’t light up black pixels.

Seriously, it’s an awesome start. I just installed it on my Galaxy S4 GPE and am testing it now. But if you own a Galaxy Nexus, which I know many of you do, as long as you are on Android 4.3, you can test it yourself.

The app is listed as an “experimental app,” so there may be bugs. It’s also free to at least test, or you can purchase the premium version for $0.99.

Note:  After playing with it for a bit, it appears as if it can only handle a single notification at a time. On the Moto X, you get a list of notifications in the bottom portion of the display if you have more than one. I’m assuming the developer can work on this, which is why he has labeled it as an “experimental app.” Still, a great start.

Here is the feature list:

* Notifications don’t light up when your phone is in your pocket, purse, or face down to avoid accidental unlocks
* Select which app-notifications you’d like to receive via ActiveNotifications
* “Sleep at night”: Don’t show notifications at night (Premium feature)
* “More privacy”: Hide additional notification details (e.g. SMS text, sender) (Premium feature)
* Automatically switch off screen when dismissing notifications(Premium feature)

Play Link

Via:  XDA

Cheers Razma and Stephen!

  • Corey Foltman

    Why can’t people wear clothes when shooting a video for an app?

  • master94

    I just really want the moto always listening feature. It would be so useful for finding my lost phone which I tend to lose a lot

  • Dorian Brooks

    I need someone to get this to work on 4.1 phones til I root/ROM my DNA

  • NemaCystX

    Not sure how I feel about this being a paid app for certain features. I mean, it is Motorola’s innovation, this is a big problem on Android it seems since when new features are introduced by a company for his or her exclusive use on their devices, developers find a way to turn them into an app and most make money off it. Much like the Chinese Knockoff market…

    While I’m sure the developer put some time into this I am still not sure its the right thing to do if they want money for it they should come up with their own ideas.

    Just saying, because wouldn’t you be ticked if someone took your hard work you developed for a special device release and someone beat you to it and made it available for devices not meant to have it, and charge for certain features (Its likely they are making money even with the free version because of ads though)

  • cjohnson481

    anyone know why it needs 4.3?

  • John Burke

    Not reliable at all on my N4.

    It’s ok, I can wait til the bugs are worked out.
    For now I’ll stick with my other Apps updated to support 4.3’s Notification Listener Sevice:
    -Floating Notifications

    • Gnex


      • John Burke

        Actually, I contacted the Dev & no it should work on any device running 4.3.
        I’ve also tried it on my GNex with similar results.

        He’s already got a G+ BETA Community & working out the kinks so hopefully he’ll get it to be more reliable soon.
        Thanks for trying though.

        • Gnex

          Yeah, but it’ll be a battery killer on LCD screens. Black pixels aren’t even lit on AMOLED screens, in case you weren’t aware :p

          • John Burke

            I’m well aware but battery usage isn’t a concern for me, but again, thanks.

            Since posting, the Dev has published 2 updates & it’s much more reliable now … only real complaint is that Notifications don’t stack so it’ll only show the 1st Notification received.
            Hopefully it’ll come soon with updates.
            Definitely worth the 99cents to support its development.

          • Gnex

            Agreed, I’ll use this until I actually buy the X.

  • Tofer

    running great for me on my note 2 with cm 10.2

  • I don’t understand the 4.3 requirement. What special thing is being used that restricts it to 4.3?

    I’ve been running CM10.1 with white on black lockscreen for a while now, because of OLED and to further save battery. I wouldn’t mind the ability to see notifications without unlocking though. 🙂

    • Grim

      4.3 introduced a notification listener service which…listens for notifications from other applications. It’s possible to do this in prior versions of android (see Noled), but it basically means you have tp have something running all the time.

      • That makes complete sense. In the past people have been using the Accessibility setting/hack to listen to notifications. Backport please. 🙂 Waiting for a Monthly CM 10.2 build before I bother with 4.3.

  • Can anyone please tell me if this works flawlessly on the S4, I plan on getting a new phone soon.

    • Jordan Webb

      Only works on 4.3, so you’d have to have the GE or a ROM. And it doesn’t work flawlessly on my Gnex, so I doubt it’d be flawless on an S4.

    • jbdan

      Have you seen the video on the Play link? Looks like a GS4 to me :p

  • sk3litor

    Still waiting for my note 2 to be updated. C’mon Samsung.

  • woodraskam

    This is the reason Hardware is the main thing to worry about when buying a phone. Software can be fixed, and updated by the dev community.

    Only thing to see is if the extra cores in the Moto X really do make the battery difference.

  • RayLovesick

    Works great on my Razr Maxx HD running CM 10.2

  • EC8CH

    I am so on this.

    Most exciting feature from the X IMHO and it give AMOLED screens a reason to exist other than having really good black levels.

  • That is just morbidly obese.

  • anezarati

    it does work the my nexus 4, but it does turn the whole screen on. it also doesnt pulse like the moto x it just stays on until you read the notification

  • Eric

    So why can’t I get this on my GS3?

    • gardobus

      You need 4.3.

      • Eric

        I am on 4.3

        • gardobus

          Then I got nothing lol

  • Adam Truelove

    I hate the old style clock font. Give me the new 4.3 clock please.

  • Jared Krinsky

    I do like the Active Notifications, but I still like the touchless commands more.

    • elemeno

      Your avatar looks like underpants.

      • Philip A. Kaiser

        Random comment of the day award goes to you my friend.

  • Taylor Abrahamson

    Anyone with an S3 running 4.3 have good luck running this app?

  • Higher_Ground

    Does the phone use a proximity sensor to tell when it’s in your pocket? If so, does it have to be facing your leg?

    • Taylor Abrahamson

      Yes proximity, no your pants will be plenty thick enough.

      • Philip A. Kaiser

        How about leaotards… You know, for dancing.

        • Taylor Abrahamson

          lol, can’t say I’ve tried, would you report back for us?

          • Philip A. Kaiser

            Dance Dance Revolution nights are always Thursdays so I will have to get back to you. Lol

          • Taylor Abrahamson

            Awesome! I will await the Friday results! Post DDR hangover of course. Hahaha

          • Philip A. Kaiser

            And everyone knows Tuesday is Halo night. -S. Cooper P.H.D.

  • cgalyon

    Cool! Love seeing the continued tech development in this space. So much potential in these devices, even if the manufacturers didn’t originally anticipate it!

  • Sb_81st

    Glad to see the Gnexus still getting love…

  • Jason13L

    Works great on my GNex 4.3 Shiny; however, I keep getting notified of System UI (Location). Not sure how to disable that notification. Suggestions?

    • Sb_81st

      Is 4.3 Shiny stable?

      • Jason13L

        Very. Love it. The only problems I have are caused by me.

  • Chris Dickson

    I’m really hoping these features are added when they update my Razr MAXX HD to Android 4.2

    • Hothfox

      I believe it has to be 4.3, because that has the new Notification Listener service on it, where older versions do not.

      • Chris Dickson

        Hmm that’s weird. The Moto X and the new Droids have it with Android 4.2.2. I was hoping they would just add those when they get to upgrading the old Droids

        • Hothfox

          I think this app requires 4.3 because the app is built by a third party, and not built by the OEM, etc. into the operating system.

    • RayLovesick

      Just unlock it, flash TWRP and CM 10.2, then you can use this app. Works great on my Maxx HD.

  • mfr118

    Should I attempt to use this on my N4 or will it uck up my phone?

    • LCD display on the N4. Not sure that it’ll work.

      • anezarati

        whats the reasoning for having to be a AMOLED screen?

        Edit: i trust you on the amoled stuff, but no where in the description does it say you have to have a amoled…hmmm

        • Stephen

          I think you can use it just fine, but it may drain your battery faster because it has to light up the whole screen.

      • mfr118

        It running fine so far. What are the cons from using on an N4?

  • jt O’Brien

    Lol the most compelling feature of the Moto X, other than touchless control, on my 2 year old GNex…Lol Moto what are you doing. Battery isn’t an issue anymore because I’m packing a 5900 mAh battery in this sucker.

  • Stephen Cox

    I’ll have to get my GNex out of my phone bin tonight and update it to 4.3 to try this out.

    Question: does the icons move around on the screen? I hope they do, otherwise we’re gonna have a burn-in problem. The GNex already has burn in from normal use.

    • Stephen

      It fades out after a few seconds (It may depend on your screen settings). It doesn’t yet have the cool fade in fade out animation.

  • Cory_S

    Not compatible with my GS3, odd.

    • gardobus

      Is your GS3 running 4.3?

      • Cory_S

        No…oh. Okay I’m a dumbass…everyone come flame me…I’m all yours.

  • James_C_L

    Why would you need 4.3 to run the app when the Moto X doesn’t even have 4.3?

    • @bleakneonblack

      The app uses the new notification listening service introduced in 4.3.

  • Razma

    wow you guys are fast with these articles, lol

  • ßen Murphy

    Random: I’m so glad the Play Store link opens the Play Store on the device instead of going to the web Play Store =)

  • nerds

    this will be amazing if the Google Play edition of the Moto X doesn’t have this!!

  • @bleakneonblack

    On my G-Nex, it seems to me like the whole screen is lighting up – yeah, it’s black, but the pixels are definitely active.

    • Siggy

      Also I have one random pixel lighting up in on screen out in the middle where nothing should be…. Not sold on this yet 🙁

      • burntcookie90

        that sounds like a stuck pixel to me

        • Siggy

          Its not stuck, it only does this with this app.

    • Flat_Stanley

      The GNex screen is not suited for this. Like you noted, the GNex cannot do pure black (off) but remains in an active low-power state, even when displaying black. I’m assuming Moto has directly addressed this with their phones.

      • On top of that, the GNex’s battery performance is low enough already, this app may drop it all the way down into the battery hell.

    • Jason Downing

      Not even available to install on my G-Nex

      • pookietookie

        Same here. Waiting for AOKP to go to 4.3!

        • Jason Downing

          Vanir all the way.

    • j

      Doesn’t seem to work on my GNEx with Shiny 4.3
      I just get regular notification light, no active screen. Yes, I have allowed it to access notifications

      • j

        never mind.. it works. But as mentioned, the screen is on while displaying black so it’s a battery waste.

  • Menger40

    I wasn’t super motivated to flash Shiny 4.3 to my GNex, but I want to try this out. Looks like it’s time to update!

    • CasperTFG


    • Matt

      My Gnex is running muuuuch better after moving to Shiny 4.3

  • Andrew Merewitz

    Any good 4.3 roms for the Galaxy Nexus?

    • fakekellex

      CM 10.2 nightly??

    • Razma

      Shiny 4.3 Rom, doesnt get anymore stock than this

      • Still need to unroot before installing that?

        • jcbaumunk

          Dirty flashed Shiny 4.3 over the previous version of shiny without un-rooting with no issues. 4.3 breaks root but baldwinguy77 has a fix for that available on the OP on rootzwiki. Just remember not to allow the recovery to overwrite upon reboot and root access will remain. From what I’ve read this is a 4.3 root issue but devs are working on a better fix.

          • I love the phrase “Dirty Flash”. It sounds so scandalous to me =)

          • Currently on Shiny, so a dirty flash may work for me as well. I’ll give it a try tonight.

          • Bigwavedave25

            I dirty flashed from a prev 4.2.2 build and was having issues. A clean wipe and flash did the trick was what I needed.

        • Razma

          I didn’t, i came from another Rom tho. I did a cache/dalvik/data wipe and installed the Rom, then flashed supersu and works fine

          • Awesome, thank ya.

      • Philip A. Kaiser

        For anyone that decides to go to this to try like I did, here is a beginner tip. After I flashed this, I then played with it for a couple hours and decided to go back to AOKP and just wait for AOKP to get 4.3. Well, when I opened ROM manager and hit restore, it said I didn’t have any saved backups. I was a little freaked to say the least because I backed up when I flashed this ROM. Well, as it turns out, if you reboot into recovery you can then scroll down to restore/backup and your backup files will still be there. I am not sure why it wouldn’t show my backups in ROM manager after flashing 4.3 but I was happy to know my backups were still in there…. somewhere. Using CWM for recovery.

      • j

        Shiny 4.3 is awesome. AOSP built and seems to be completely bug free.
        Missing some of the features from my 4.2.2. ROM, but 4.3 is leaps and bounds better on the GNex.

    • Mike Cox

      tried one(verizon) last week and losses 4g/3g connection all the time. looked around seems to be a know issue..i would say wait and see if that gets worked out

      • gardobus

        I’ve been running fitsnugly’s cm 10.2 builds and haven’t had any signal/connection issues at all. I did have some root issues on the first couple builds but it runs great now. Feels better than 10.1.

    • TemplesOfSyrinx


      I use fairct’s builds for the Verizon Gnex.

    • ostensibly

      Paranoid Android just updated to 4.3 as well.

  • Patrick Flanigan

    Says its not compatible with my G-nex

    Edit: Whoops, missed the part about it needing 4.3, come on Cyanogenmod 10.2!

    • gardobus

      I’ve been running it for a week without issues: http://fitsnugly.euroskank.com/?rom=cm10&device=toro

      • Higher_Ground

        I have to say, that URL just looks fishy :/

        • netPIMP

          sure does… except that I’ve been running his builds for months and months… and this one runs just fine…

          • gardobus

            I’ve had fitsnugly’s builds on my phone more than any other roms combined. Jellybro or AOSKP depending on my mood haha

        • gardobus

          Haha I know it does but it’s not fishy in any way, I promise. Euroskank is a group of devs that have been building roms for a long time now. They build CM10.1/10.2 (jellybro), aokp (aoskp), cm7, and rasbeanjelly for various devices. The devs include fitsnugly, makelegs, rascarlo, morfique (trinity kernel), etc. Check out XDA or Rootzwiki for their names. Fitsnugly is the guy who builds CM 10.2 for toro.

          • Higher_Ground

            Good to know 🙂

  • fakekellex

    without the extra dedicated core = battery suckage.

    • Kane Stapler

      there isn’t a core for this, There is one for the always listening touch-less controls

      • Zargh

        Yes there is, it’s what Motorola call the “Contextual computing core”. On the Anandtech Brian Klug said Touchless display is essentially running an alternate OS on that core.

        The Moto X doesn’t need to turn on the processor cores in its implementation.

        • Taylor Abrahamson

          “The Moto X doesn’t need to turn on the processor cores”.

          You do realize that as long as the phone is on, even when sleeping, the processor cores don’t turn off right? They just clock themselves down to around 300mhz, and android sleeps all non phone / standby processes. So separating a single process from the main cores which have been throttled way down, but are still running other things rather than adding a single extra non-computationally exhaustive process isn’t going to greatly affect battery life in any way.

          • Render

            It depends on how Motorola actually implemented the X8 architecture. It is entirely possible they shutdown the application processors when the screen is off.

            People need to stop making assumptions on how the processor architecture works.

          • woodraskam

            So you can assume how it works, but if anyone else assumes it is working the ‘standard’ way they are out of bounds?

            It’d be a safer assumption to make that the processor clocks down and doesn’t shut off, but because it’s possible, then it works the non-standard way. Right.

          • Render

            Where in my response did I make any sort of assumption? If I had to guess they likely shutoff one core completely and downclock the other core to somewhere around 100-200MHz.

            My point was that we don’t know, and the person I replied to was making an assumption that the battery loss from an active process on an ARM processor is equivalent to that on a lower power, less powerful processor that was designed specifically for the function it was performing.

            If I had to guess the Moto version is much smoother/more slick/less power consuming than this open source alternative simply due to the fact that its running on a processor designed for the function.

            Think of it this way: A core i7 is extremely fast for computational processing…yet can be brought to its knees if used for software graphics rendering because it wasn’t designed to do so. That is why GPUs exist…in the phone world Motorola making a bet that NLPs and Contextual Processing has a future in the phone market based on use cases.

      • Joseph Rebstock

        Actually one of the extra cores keeps track of the environment to guess if the phone is in a pocket, car, walking, table, etc… and adjusts the notifications presentation based on that.

    • KleenDroid

      You must not have read about the app on XDA.

      It says minimal impact on battery. And the battery saving feature should work automatically.

  • That was fast.