cyanogen thumb

Here at Android Police, we're no strangers to digging around in Google's code and finding surprising stuff inside. Apparently some members of the CyanogenMod team did the same, and found a hidden feature in KitKat: Heads Up notifications. These floating notifications are meant to be used in full-screen apps or Immersive Mode, but for whatever reason, they aren't switched on in AOSP code. (Perhaps they're intended for the next major Android release.) You can probably guess what happens next.

Screenshot_2014-06-21-11-27-52 Screenshot_2014-06-21-11-28-15 HeadsUp2

Starting with CyanogenMod 11 nightlies published on June 19th, the new builds include a setting to enable Heads Up. When switched on, all notifications will float in just below the notification bar, or just where it would be if you're currently in full screen mode. These are basically identical to the notification you'd see if you pulled down the bar - you can tap it to go to the relevant application, swipe left to dismiss it, pinch out to expand, et cetera. All the standard functions should work, including embedded action buttons, though you can expect some teething troubles as the nightlies progress.

CyanogenMod also includes one feature that wasn't in the original code: the ability to select which apps will show notifications and which won't when Heads Up is enabled. You can get to all of this in the new Heads Up section of the primary ROM menu. Expect it to get a wider release in the next monthly "M" release of the popular custom ROM.

Source: CyanogenMod blog, Google+

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • bender23

    ^This is a better implementation of PA Hover IMO

    • PA

      Yes! I get annoyed whenever Hover comes up on the home screen and blocks the notification bar completely when I want to access it.

      • Kylecore

        I get annoyed when i blacklist a notification type and it still pops up

        • Francisco Franco

          Grab the source, fix it, commit it and we'll pull it for the next release.

          • Kylecore

            Yeah i'm sure how to fix it my friend, i'm more of a user not a dev. I do know its the google play services apps where its updating and installing and installed which point to 3 different apps that i long press to go to app info to blacklistthem and it doesn't stop them.

          • Ron Asimi

            Is the hover source published yet? Pa seems to take a long time to release source for their features.

          • grumpyfuzz

            Yea, it is.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            You know, this is not a good attitude towards your own users "herp-derp, fix it yourself"

            People might as well build their own ROM or just go to another one where the teams are actually checking and fixing bugs themselves

          • https://plus.google.com/+SamanthaGobert/ Samantha Gobert

            People get to use roms for free.. They don't have to pay anything to the devs who slave over it. The non-rude way of complaining about something in a rom is to use the bug tracker.

          • pantagruel

            Mega-jerk, welcome again.

      • http://shywim.fr/ Matthieu Harlé

        You can just disable Hover.

        • Kylecore

          I don't want it fully disabled, i just want a few apps to be blacklisted so the don't activate hover which is what black listing them is supposed to do and doesn't seem to work quite right.

      • Brian Nazareth

        Well, it just appears for 2 seconds and disappears. It doesn't appear in Full screen applications, even in apps like WhatsApp or Facebook; and appears only in the launcher and home screen.

        So far the best implemented feature I've seen <3

    • Andrzej Głuszak

      PA vs CM fight NOW!

      • YETI

        The difference with this and PA Hover is that this I believe was made by Google, so it might appear as a standard feature in the next Android version

        • godutch

          Oh my god, I really hope it won't or at least only as an option, popups you have to respond to are so annoying.

          • Android Developer

            True. That's what I felt when it was shown on IOS8 on WWDC event.
            I think it can be most annoying when watching something in full screen, like games and videos.

          • AlexisKerryfyg

            Penelope . I can see what your
            saying... Allen `s artlclee is really great, yesterday I picked up a brand new
            volvo from making $5443 this month and-just over, 10-k this past-munth .
            without a doubt it is the nicest-job I've ever done . I began this 4 months ago
            and pretty much immediately started bringing in at least $76... per-hr . why
            not check here C­a­s­h­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

          • Jonathan

            On CM you can blacklist apps

          • pikachu

            it is optional, i hope Google allows us to choose on an app per app basis

          • http://www.droidzone.ro/ Adi

            We should be able to just swipe it up to put it in the notification drawer or something.

        • Bojan Tomic

          You were right!

    • Marcelove

      The problem i think is the number of unecessary appps bullt inside Cyanogen... Obvisously i can uninstall them, but i dont get why Cyanogen keep so many apps inside its rom... I can give an example: cLock ... Hungry battery app that should be optional... Because os this i changed to PA without regret... Even now with the hover option that makes PA and Cyanogen close at functions, i wont go back...

      • http://www.droid-life.com/ Steve B

        You know you can disable cLock right?

        • Jachym Kokesh Lukes

          I'm on Omni, didn't look back once.

          • http://www.droid-life.com/ Steve B

            Cool story bro.

          • Mini Mansell

            omni play the same game with Omniswitch

            cant be disabled.

          • Jamin

            You're right but Omni switch is one of the best things Omni has to offer.

          • Android Developer

            Each user has its own features he likes/dislikes.
            The best thing is that you have a choice.
            For example, I like SlimRom, but I don't like their recent-apps replacement, so I tried other roms. I'm using CM for now. Also try out OmniRom from time to time.

          • Android Developer

            Yes, you can disable it. Both the feature and the app.
            You can even uninstall it (though it will be back when you update the rom).
            If you wish to disable it, there are plenty of apps that can do it. I've even made one of my own that allows to do it (here : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lb.app_manager ).

          • Luqmaan Mathee

            Edit the backup script😉

          • Android Developer

            You can use a backup script as done here:
            Or, you could use an app for this. I recommend "easeBackup" for free batch backup and restore, or "titanium backup" for single backup and restore (the batch operation there is very annoying for the free version).

          • Max Weninger

            OmniSwitch is as optional as possible :) I have to agree that handling updates is a missing link here. So actually it should respect system apps that you have uninstalled - not only OmniSwitch. This would be a nice overall feature for every custom rom though.

          • Android Developer

            Yes I know.
            Maybe it could be better if the installer would ask if it should re-install missing system apps.
            at least it's a small system app.

          • HarvesterX

            That's why I keep a modified updater-script for the rom I use and for each new release manually mod the archive myself before flashing (also removing the system wipe and manually wiping select directories with a terminal)

          • Luqmaan Mathee

            Yeah. I know many like it but I can't personally stomach it.

          • Luqmaan Mathee

            Haha I'm a cm fanboy

        • Marcelove

          Yeap.,. i know, like i said before, that i could even uninstall it with
          Titanium for example... The problem for me its that, using the example i
          gave, cLock isn't needed to the rom... And it is at Play Store, so i
          don't get why it is "forced" inside the rom cause the users that really
          want it just could install it, but instead Cyanogen forces all users to
          "get it"...

          To me "less is more" ... But i know that there are
          many people that like cLock and probabily have the oposite opinion...
          But to me, today, PA gives me a better experience than Cyanogen :)

        • HarvesterX

          Or even better yet open up the rom archive before flashing it and remove whatever you don't want flashed/add your own custom scripts/apps/etc... Not sure why anyone would complain over so simple to remove. Doesn't hurt my feelings though 😎

    • Stacey Liu

      Better? How so?

      Maybe when it's a completed feature it will be better, but right now, Hover seems more functional and polished to me.

  • Daniel Traynor

    Obviously Google probably wants this for the next version of Android.
    I don't feel like CM has any right to give access to this before Google has announced it.
    Fair enough finding it but enabling it is another thing.
    Think it's unfair against Google.

    Just my thoughts!

    • Alexander Terry

      if google didn't want anyone to know, why is it in AOSP?

      • Daniel Traynor


      • Donnylurv221

        I agree with both of your comments...
        But even though it is in AOSP does this still give Cyanogen the right to release it anyway???

        • Tyler Shivers

          If it's in AOSP then it's released.

        • Kevin Kuo

          Yes. It's in the Apache licence.
          It's also part of being open source.

        • Justin W

          Since it's in AOSP, it's already available to anyone who feels like digging through the source code. CM just happens to be the first who found and implemented it. It's not stealing or anything since it's open source and Google's already placed it in AOSP.

      • YETI

        I would suggest putting it in the Developer options, it would be a bit less obvious but still available for testing


      Agreed, but it's in AOSP so doesn't look like they're bothered.

    • Zargh

      It doesn't necessarily have to be upcoming: maybe it was on the drawing board but didn't make the final editors cut for KitKat (possibly due to amount of real estate it takes up in practice) and the dormant code just wasn't removed properly.

    • Majeed Hamid

      You have a point but google gave the pathway for customization and i think one way or the other is fair.

    • Francisco Franco

      It's open source, anyone does whatever they want with the code.

    • Maranello Santiago

      Unfair? Android is open source. Google put it out there, they can't complain.

    • tubalicious

      Maybe Google did it this way so they can test the reception of it without being tied to its success or failure.

    • Luqmaan Mathee

      Honestly I love when any dev uncovers something in aosp or in Google app teardowns. Like app does😀

    • godutch

      Or maybe Google came to their senses and realized these type of notifications are really a terrible idea and ditched the idea but didn't remove it from source

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Steve B

      Shut your freaking hole. This has got to be the stupidest comment I've read in a while. If it's in AOSP, it's fair game.

      Google gives zero fucks that somebody found this and enabled it. This isn't Apple brah.

    • Blue Sun

      Not sure if serious...

  • djakdekiel

    I'm blind. How to turn on heads up?:D

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Steve B

      Settings > Notification drawer > Heads up

      • djakdekiel

        I'm using 11-2014-06-20-NIGHTLY-mako but doesn't have this option.

        • Daniel Smith

          Wait till the next build.

          • djakdekiel

            Downloaded 21 and it's working :)

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    So much stuff is gonna drop before and during I/O...

  • http://www.androidplay.com.br/author/anddizinho/ André Calazans

    Waiting on Xposed ;D

  • Casey Mills

    It's basically a notification shade widget?

    • richardarkless

      No, it actually pops up on top of the homescreen and also when you're in an app or game

  • Diogo Hayakawa

    so, hover from PA is based on this, right? since when is it on AOSP?

    • Brandon Jiang

      No... Hover has additional functionality and looks a little more mature

  • Daniel Smith

    This seems hit and mess.

    Sometimes they appear, sometimes they don't.

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

      I lol'ed at "hit and mess."

      • Daniel Smith

        It was originally a typo, but it's not worth a correction.

  • vgergo

    *Speaking* of notifications. Sorry for the pun

    • Crafty

      This has nothing to do with that. Quit shilling your app in the comments.

      I've seen you doing it for weeks now. It's annoying.

  • bmg1001

    Maybe an Xposed module can uncover this on AOSP Roms?

  • NF

    This definitely seems like something made for immersive apps, but was cut out last second because of poor ux. While i'd like notifications during book reading, I don't want blocky notifications during book reading.

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Steve B

      Good thing it only shows for about three seconds.

  • ather akber

    waiting for someone to bring it with xposed :)

  • abobobilly

    I don't get it. How is that beneficial?

  • Stanley C.

    Waiting for an xposed module to unlock this...

  • Android Developer

    I'm not sure I understand what I see.
    It shows a floating window of the notification?
    When does it do it, and how do you make a good use of it?

    • NinoBr0wn

      Are you actually an Android developer?

      • Android Developer

        Yes, but not of the Android OS.
        I'm an Android apps developer.

    • YETI

      When you receive a notification it appears as on the above screenshot (instead of the short text on the status bar), you can tap the screen elsewhere for it to hide, you can swipe to dismiss it or you can tap on it to go to the corresponding app

      • Android Developer

        Hmmmm.... yes you are correct.
        I've tried it and it seems that it doesn't always show this way.
        For example, when you install an app from the play store.
        Maybe it shows up this way only when the notification has actions, or when it's expandable?

        • Yeti

          I am using a Nexus 7 (2012) on 21/06/14 release and it works exactly as I described it, it shows every single notification, even google now weather updates.

          • Android Developer

            Good to know. I'll check it out furthermore.
            I wonder if I should keep it. Maybe it could annoy me when I watch things in full screen (videos/games).

  • Jesús Cuenca

    Looks great but why not Zoidberg? Or Halo?

  • hp420

    Waiting for an Xposed module :)

  • cabbieBot

    No doubt in my mind the devs at Google had a betting pool on how long it would take for someone to stumble across this.

  • kk

    DOES CLICKING on floating notification apps launch in floating window or normal ie in full screen?

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Steve B


  • Luqmaan Mathee

    I don't think it's in the next m release because I believe the m release builds have already been started like a day before.

  • Jack Crowe

    Can't wait for this to come to stock roms :3

  • godutch

    Now that's "in your face" annoying

  • NexusIsAndroid

    I love CM!

  • Deeco

    Xposed bound!

  • sherlockedinsidethetardis

    And the Apple user goes... I can. Umm. Jailbreak my phone and change my network icon to that of deadmau5's head. Oh, and, #BEATS.

  • dickern

    Even Google try to create something looks similar to PA, kudos PA

  • black


  • Android Developer

    Ever since I've flashed CM 11, I can't run any demos on "DevAppsDirect" app (which shows demos of libraries for Android).
    Can anyone please confirm?

  • Tutibreaker Designs

    is almost the same like hover from paranoid team

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Hey guys, MohammadAG already made this into an Xposed module!


    • Android Developer

      wow cool.

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        My only wish now is interacting with the notifications like what iOS8 and Halo do these days but for stock Android, but this is definitely a step in the right direction!

        • Android Developer

          the notifications are similar to what IOS8 has - you click on an action, and you can handle the event.
          It's up to the developer of the app to handle it.
          IOS8 doesn't look like it's opening anything of the app though, so I wonder if that's better or not. It could be better for faster responsiveness to the user, but it's probably worse in a way since the developer can't customize the handling of how it looks like or maybe how it behaves.
          It's all guesses, of course. I'm not an IOS developer. Maybe I will ask one.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            But in this case when you click on a notification - it opens the app, it's not like the notifications in iOS8 now where in the shown example you can reply to a text message (like MIUI did back on during CM-7-base era) straight away, or do stuff like in the demonstrated notification shade widgets - Android does not have that in 99% of the cases, and even to reply to an incoming main in Gmail - after you press the "Reply" button it still takes you to the email composer = opens the Gmail app, not reply to the email in a floating windows (like you can with Halo)

            So Android stock notifications still have a long road ahead in terms of funtionality because except for this Heads Up mode and the expanding - the notifications were pretty much untouched since ICS

          • Android Developer

            It is correct that it will open the app, but developers can make it very snappy, to open just the appropriate screen/dialog (or whatever they wish) in order to handle the clicking.
            Not only that, but some operations don't need any UI, for example (mark as) "read" for SMS messages.
            I will see if I can ask some IOS developers how this works on IOS8. Seems interesting to compare.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            Yes it does take you to compose screen/comments section/specific menu/etc., but the problem still persists - it still takes you to the app that the notification arrived from, if you want to handle it - you STILL have to interact with the app inside it, not distantly like Notification Widgets or Halo let you. That's the main issue. And sadly the examples of "Mark as read" for SMS or "Delete" for Gmail can be counted on fingers

          • Android Developer

            Maybe Google will add more features to the notifications. I think it's possible, and that they can make it even better.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            We can only hope. The notification system really needs to be more robust, and I'm sure that it can be - Halo, Hover, Heads Up and the Floatifications along with what Apple has shown us on WWDC prove it

  • Naushad Shukoor
  • http://404err0r.com/ Henry Park

    This just might be what I needed to switch to AOSP from stock TouchWiz

  • Michael M.

    Don't like this.
    I saw such things even on cheap cell phones, like samsung corby.
    I think this is kinda useless thing. It's better to make notification widget for lock screen like apple has on their iOS, or make badges with unread notification counter on every icon.

  • Bhagi

    Hi Guys,
    Can anybody tell me how to enable "Heads Up" ? Please give me a path. Thanks.

  • matt

    Its enabled in the candy kat 4.4.3 ROM and its pretty cool

  • Jake Barthalemule

    Android L has this feature, beating google to it.

  • http://www.nile7.com jaklin badr