Silent Mode in Android 5.x Lollipop & Maximizing Your Power Over Notifications

When Google launched Android 5.0 Lollipop, one of the biggest complaints from users was the removal of “silent mode” from Android. This has led to developers building modifications for rooted users to re-add this feature. What few people realize is Silent mode hasn’t been removed, but re-imagined. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t do a very good job ad educating users about using their mobile operating system. Even with users’ disapproval of this change, Google has done little to nothing to inform users of the new change.

Rather than looking for silent mode on Android, you should be looking for “interruptions.” This new feature does more than silent mode ever could. Interruptions can be customized in the Android Settings to setup quiet hours or they can be turned on from the volume meter to adjust temporary silent periods. This new interruptions feature is meant to automate your phone’s silent mode to make Android work smarter for you.

The new feature launched with the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9. Newly released phones in 2015, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, HTC One M9, LG G4, run Android 5.0 or newer and may have this feature, though the manufacturer may modify how it works. Many older phones such as the Moto X, HTC One M8 and M7, LG G3, Samsung Galaxy S5 and perhaps the S4, and the Sony Xperia Z3 and Z2 are upgraded or will be soon to Android 5.0, but may also modify how interruptions work.

Interruptions from volume meter:

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In Android 5.0 and up, you may notice three new symbols on the bottom of the volume pop-up window: a bell that says “all,” a star that says “priority,” and a circle with a line through it that says “none.” This is the new implementation of interruptions to replace silent mode. Choosing all means that your phone will sound the ringer/notification chime and vibrate if it’s supposed to for all notifications you receive. In other words, all notifications will behave as they should. Choosing “priority” means that only notifications from your priority apps or contacts list will sound, all others will be silent. This is useful for allowing certain friends or family members to reach  you in emergency situations, but don’t want to be bothered by anything else. None is simply none — no notifications will bother you. Some of you reading this may be wondering if you will see any notifications when priority or none is selected and the answer is yes. You will still see the notifications on screen, but the vibration and sound will not trigger. When you select an option, it will prompt you for how long to leave this choice enabled. If you’re interested in turning off the ringer, but retaining the vibration function, simply turn the volume down to the lowest level. You can touch the volume bar to the furthest left to achieve this in one step rather than holding the volume button down until it reaches the lowest level.

Setting priority/sensitive notifications:

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With the new interruptions, you can set your phone to only sound/vibrate for priority notifications as I described above. Unfortunately, choosing which apps are priority is less intuitive than it ought to be. You can set this with the following steps on a per app basis:

  1. Enter the Android Settings
  2. Open Sound & Notification
  3. Open App notifications near the bottom
  4. Select the app you wish to be set to Priority
  5. Toggle Priority

You can also choose to block the app’s notifications completely, which is nice to have if an app nags you too often to rate or spend money. Sensitive is also an option which will block the details of the notification from the lockscreen.

Quiet hours:

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Quiet hours is a feature Apple brought with the iPhone and several Android manufacturers replicated in their own flavors of Android. Google has finally brought this feature to Android as a native feature for all Lollipop users. Setting this up is similar to setting up priority apps. Follow along below to learn how to set this up:

  1. Enter the Android Settings
  2. Open Sound & Notification
  3. Open Interruptions
  4. Customize these options to your liking – here you can set the days of the week and times notifications don’t interrupt your life. You also have control over what kinds of notifications remain active during these times.

If you have an Android device other than a Nexus, please share how interruptions functions in the comments.

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