Now that KitKat is finally out in the world, we're finding all sorts of little tweaks that make the new OS nicer to use. Google didn't give this particular feature a big headline on the Android site, but maybe it should have. Android 4.4 now lets you access your notifications from any full-screen app. This is a feature Samsung has included in TouchWiz for a while, so it's not entirely new to the world of Android.

This is a seriously useful feature if you spend any amount of time in an app or game that hides the status bar. You might hear a notification tone, but you can't even see what icons have popped up. So what? Leave the app just to see the notification? Nonsense. In Android 4.4 you can swipe down from the top of the screen to show the semi-transparent status bar, then swipe again to open the full notifications.

This will actually freeze the app or game you're running so you don't miss anything. When you get you hands on KitKat, don't forget to try this out.

[Android Developer Site]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Ryan Callihan

    Hands down my favorite feature. This this always annoyedd me when playing games on my phone.

    • Tyranchen

      which phones battery lasts long enough that i can play games on it and still have enough for the rest of the day ? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

      • Gabernasher

        Droid Maxx?

        • tyranchen

          pls tell me a phone which i can buy in europe :D

          • Kesey

            SG4/Note with a few spare batteries?

          • shadowdude777

            Note 2 or Note 3.

      • Ryan Callihan

        .... You caught me. I play with my charger connected.

      • http://wishu-blog.net/ Marco (Wishu) Kaiser

        LG G2

  • Guillaume

    that was really needed :) now please port multiwindow from touchwizz, the only useful feature I miss from all the other crap from samsung

  • h4m

    The navbar should hide too. Immersive mode.

    • http://www.dsaif.com/ Saif

      App developers have to add that I think. Email the devs to add it.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        That's correct.

        • idlukakas

          Would be good if have a button to force immersive +sticky in developer menu (like expand desktop)

      • Mansour Yaacoubi

        Wtf Saif? It's already included in KitKat. h4m just said that the notification bar is not the only thing that hides. Thr navbar hides too and jt's called immersive mode.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      The beauty is that this notification pulldown trick works without immersive mode. That's what makes me so happy about it, I can finally let go of TouchWiz.

      • Simon Belmont

        So, why not just make immersive mode work by default for all full screen apps, too? I guess because some apps need the back key present at all times and Google wanted to leave the choice up to the developer?

        Either way, this is a nice touch. I also look forward to more apps that take advantage of immersive mode, which is something I've wanted as long as I've had on screen navigation buttons.

        • Ryan Stewart

          Likely. You cant assume that all applications are up to date in the interface so its safer to let the developer notify Google that they are expecting that behavior.

          • Simon Belmont

            Yeah. That's pretty much what I figured.

            It's like adding the line of code back in Honeycomb that enabled 2D hardware acceleration in an app. Google couldn't assume it would work perfectly until more developers had adopted it until ICS was released.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Yup, exactly. Plus, the aspect ratio change due to additional space available could break apps too.

          • Simon Belmont

            You're right. It's like going into expanded desktop mode in CM, and some apps didn't resize correctly after switching.

            They normally worked if you'd gone into expanded desktop mode PRIOR to starting the app, though. I like Google's compromise here.

          • Vito Lee

            Something I know all too well about when having Tasker enable Expanded Desktop on CM on some apps. They just crash right away. *coughAngryBirdscough*

        • Matthew Skalecki

          Some full-screen games still rely on the back button for navigating through some of their ui. They'll need to add something in their own screen-space to provide the back / up functionality, or else it would be annoying for the user to have to constantly unhide the nav-bar.

          • Simon Belmont

            Yeah. That's pretty much the use-case I was thinking of where it would be prudent for the developer to have control of it.

            The way Google did it is a good compromise. I like it.

        • Daniel Higgins

          Pausing a live multiplayer game would pretty much ruin the experitence. Think about timed racing or gem matching gamesgames, a dev would probably prefer to have it disabled to minimise any syncing issues between players.

          • Simon Belmont

            Yep. I agree.

            It's best left to the developers. Google has it right.

      • impulse101

        Or for the past two or 3 years you could have just installed smart statusbar instead of using Shitwiz

        • UniBroW

          Except it's not as good

        • Nick D

          I have used this app for a very long time, too. Android feels so limited without this ability. Between it and Swipepad, I can do lots of stuff without leaving my current app/game.

          The only problem is, KitKat on the Droid Maxx broke Smart Statusbar, AND it doesn't seem to do the native notification pulldown detailed in this article.

      • DarkStarr

        .... Custom ROMs have had this for a while though.

    • nicholasosu330

      my Aunty Olivia recently got an awesome
      Honda by work parttime using a lap-top... imp source J­a­m­2­0­.­ℂ­o­m

    • http://www.LOVEanon.org/ Michael Oghia (Ogie)

      I just hope they do something about Google Now interrupting game play in landscape mode. Do you know the problem I am referring to? When you swipe left on your screen, and it takes you to Google Now. Very frustrating.

  • Grimmjow

    Waiting for the roll out to begin to Nexus 4.

    • Jadephyre

      Not going to happen this week. After JBQ quit, I guess everyone should have expected a clusterfuck like this.
      Guess we were all ill-prepared for it.

      • Bluewall

        They have sometimes troubles about publishing the binaries, not an OTA :p

        • Jadephyre

          Then Google needs to step up their game and get the issues with Qualcomm fixed BEFORE they release a new version of an OS.
          What kind of peanut-brains are running the Android division at GoogleHQ?

          • NasaGeek

            The driver issues occurred due to the release of a new device (Nexus 7 2013), not because of a new OS release. There have been no issues with unreleased drivers with the Kitkat release.

          • Simon Belmont

            They published the binaries for the Nexus 5 without a problem. It has a Qualcomm SoC, too.

            Perhaps they're just doing some finishing touches on the QA for the other devices? The Nexus 5, after all, was designed with Android 4.4 in mind, while the others weren't exactly.

  • DHM47

    There's an app in the play store that can do this without root called "swipe status bar"
    Considering kit kat won't be coming soon

  • RitishOemraw

    normally I go for the multi-task button and than swipe down the notification bar, if it is not interesting I can go back to my app (Im already in the multi-task screen) otherwise switch to the notification by tapping on it.


    • Simon Belmont

      That's how I used did it, too. Going into the multitasking UI froze the app anyway, so you could go right back.

      But yes, this is much better. Agreed.

      • RitishOemraw

        you stalking me or something? Better watch out or I'll send mr.Cuddly-Duddly-Panda-Wanda-Poo-Bear after you :P

        • Simon Belmont

          Hahaha. No. ;)

          You have some insightful comments, and I like replying to those kind. No stalking, promise. :P

          • RitishOemraw

            That's cool bro.
            But now you promised, so print screening this in case I need evidence for the cops later :P

          • Simon Belmont

            You may have to send the cops to Transylvania. I hear that's where Simon Belmont lives. :)

            He's usually fighting vampires and so forth. So, he might not be home. ;)

          • RitishOemraw

            OMG are you simon belmont the vampire hunter from transylvania?!!!!

            That is like....sooo
            euhm whats the word?,..ehh
            That is sooo new to me. Never heard of him before.

          • Simon Belmont

            Here you go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Belmont#Simon_Belmont .

            That should help explain things a little. Cheers.

  • ArrTooDeeToo

    I'm going to exploit this in Candy Crush to help me out in those annoying timed levels. :D

  • Cesar

    This is one of the few things Touch Wiz did right. It's nice to know it's a native android feature now.

  • Christopher Robert

    Everyone always hates on TW until its featured get copied and added to other Android skins. Then all of a sudden its like well this is the ONE feature TW got right lol.

    • Sean

      I don't hate TW because of the features, I hate TW because it looks like a 4 year old was told to copy the look of Gingerbread and make it gradient-er.

      • Simon Belmont

        This. Although, I do feel TouchWiz is over-featured which has led to a lot of clutter in the settings.

        It's feature laden software hasn't helped with memory footprint or stuttering either. There's a reason Samsung was the first to the 3GB of RAM game.

    • Stacey Liu

      In pretty sure this was originally an iOS feature that Samsung tried to replicate. Don't give credit where it isn't due.

      • Christopher Robert

        LOL ha^^^^ I believe TW had this before iOS even had a pull down notification bar.

  • Russell Brown

    Chat Transcript

    Time of chat: 11/4/2013 1:13:55 PM
    Length of chat: 00:04:38
    Your name: russell brown
    Chatted with: Frank
    1:13 PM Frank: Hello russell brown. Welcome to LG Electronics U.S.A. Support only. How may I provide you with excellent service today?
    1:14 PM russell brown: I just have one simple question and please DO NOT answer me with a generic answer
    1:15 PM russell brown: is the G2 going to get 4.4 update and what is the time line for it
    1:16 PM russell brown: ?????
    1:17 PM Frank: yes it will at the moment we do not have an ETA
    1:17 PM Frank: to be ab
    1:17 PM Frank: but it should be before this year ends
    1:17 PM russell brown: thank you for your straight answer
    1:18 PM russell brown: have a nice evening -day

    • Simon Belmont

      Hmm. I'd assume that the G2 will skip Android 4.3 and go right to KK.

      Such will probably be the case for a lot of recently released phones that didn't start with Android 4.3. Just my guess.

  • Simon Belmont

    The USB debugging icon for KK looks like a white washed picket fence. Yeah, I know it's Kit Kat wafers.

    It'd be cool if you could switch it to the Key Lime Pie with antenna from the older builds in the developer settings. Cheers.

  • Marcellus111

    Cool. Never new that feature was a touchwiz exclusive thing. Good to know I'll still be able to use it on my next device--which will likely not be samsung :).

    • faceless128

      me either. i thought it was just a ICS or JB feature. crazy that other devices don't have it.

      • Hans Pedersen

        Samsung's version just don't freeze the active app. I think that's an odd decision by Google to do, kind of takes away most of the usefulness of it.

  • http://www.androidrow.com/ Android Man
  • idlukakas

    AP confirm for me if this volume rocker already have expanded menu by default on AOSP 4.4 http://i.imgur.com/Xmv2zBc.png

    I'm pretty excited if was done.

  • Giingee

    My Nexus 5 arrived today :D Anyone else get theres?

    • Robert Scheib

      Mine is being delivered tomorrow

    • Ahmed

      Mine is on the delivery truck :D

  • TheLastAngel

    Has anybody else discovered that full screen reading in landscape is broken in Play Books? Trying to swiipe to the next page will always trigger Google Now.

  • mgamerz

    Freezing the app, depending on memory conditions and the way the app is implemented, might restart the game. I've seen it happen before when it's not a fullscreen app and I swipe the bar.

  • Alan Shearer

    The more I read about kitkat bar, the more it seems they took alot of the best ideas from paranoid android.

  • Alvin

    Did it write that it will freeze the app?
    What if my game is one of those online multiplayer ones?
    Won't freezing get me disconnected?

  • Sergii Pylypenko

    Am I the only one who hates notification bar showing up during game at random? Half of the games I play require some extensive swiping near the screen edges.
    And of course you cannot turn this feature off, because that will clutter settings (as if they care about clutter in Touchwiz).

  • JonJJon

    I was hoping this feature would come to stock Android at some point, this is great to see. Now if Google would push the OTA to my Nexus 4 ;-P

  • Justin Tyme

    This is an amazing feature for anyone like myself who likes to fullscreen by default and hide the nav/status bar