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All the smaller features in Android 11 Developer Preview 2 you might have missed
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Another tweak to notifications in Android 11 was spotted in the latest developer preview: A tweak to a hidden "Notification log" activity, and a new, only partially functional "Notification history" activity that shows you a list of items you've recently dismissed.
Notification log activity on Android 10 (left), and Android 11 (right).
The notification log activity is accessible at com.android.settings.Settings$NotificationStationActivity in the Settings app via your preferred activity launching method, or via a launcher widget for the Settings app (Thanks: pfmiller). This new layout is a minor change over the version hidden in Android 10. The biggest differences are an increase in content padding and a swap of the app name with the notification — nesting the latter under the former, rather than the other way around. That gives us the space to view all the actual notification content, too.
Unfortunately, although it's prettier, it's a little less useful as well, showing less information about each notification than the old interface did.
It's still not user-facing, but if Google ever decides to make it a genuine feature, this redesigned version is much more usable.
New notification history activity, which wasn't present in Android 10.
The bigger surprise is a brand-new notification history activity, (find it at com.android.settings.notification.history.NotificationHistoryActivity in the Settings app in your activity launcher), which appears to be unfinished. In its present form, it shows a few windows (big enough for around three notifications at a time) with a chronological history of notifications in a few categories. So far, we've spotted "Snoozed" and "recently dismissed," but there could be more.
Given these changes in Android 11, we'll probably see Google build more in later releases upon the notification management tweaks it's been implementing in recent versions of Android. Starting with Android 9 Pie, you could finally see a list of apps that recently sent notifications in Settings, and Android 10 had so many tweaks to notification management it ended up being the chunkiest individual sub-heading in our Android 10 feature list.
Given how obnoxious notifications can get these days, extra tools like this could go a long way in making them easier to manage — if they ever end up being user-facing.
More details regarding notification history were spotted, and another method for accessing the notification log as been included in our coverage.
Notification history now accessible in Settings without workarounds
Google is opening up notification history to everyone, including those who don't want to rely on activity launchers. A new settings entry that lets you toggle it on has surfaced in Android 11 Developer Preview 2. You can access via Apps & notifications -> notifications -> Advanced -> Notification history. Once that's done, your recently dismissed messages and other pings will appear in a dedicated interface, accessible via a History shortcut in your notification shade.
The feature isn't fully ready for prime time, though. It's only showing content under "Recently dismissed" for me, while another section that's supposed to show older notifications from today is still empty, even though I activated notification history a few hours ago.