Between all the bigger, more exciting features launched in yesterday’s Android Q Beta 2, one that’s gone relatively unexplained is the new Notification Assistant setting, which claims to help you manage your notifications. We’ve deciphered some of the documentation to help give you a better idea of what to expect from the new Notification Assistant apps that may be coming to Android Q.
If you haven’t heard about the Notification Assistant, it can be found in the Settings app, under “Apps & notifications”, “Notifications”, “Notification Assistant.” In this new setting, we can choose between “Notification Assistant” and “None.” From context, we’re guessing a third-party app could be installed and chosen here. Choosing “Notification Assistant” gives us some basic info about what it’s all about.
Notification Assistant will be able to read all notifications, including personal information such as contact names and the text of messages you receive. It will also be able to modify or dismiss notifications or trigger action buttons they contain. This will also give the app the ability to turn Do Not Disturb on or off and change related settings.
That’s a fairly vague description, but Google has provided developer documentation to explain exactly what a Notification Assistant app can do. Primarily, what a Notification Assistant does is make “adjustments” to notifications. For example, an adjustment can add additional contextual options to a notification, such as adding the option to call a number sent to you in a text message. Adjustments can also be used to include Smart Replies for almost any given notification, or reprioritize it higher in your notification shade.
Additionally, it seems that a Notification Assistant will be able to snooze a notification until a particular criteria has been met. The documentation on what this criteria can be is not public yet, so we can’t be sure of exactly how useful this feature will be beyond the time-based snooze controls already available.
For the time being, we’re not sure if any of these possibilities are being used by the Notification Assistant included in Android Q Beta 2, but we’ll continue testing over the coming days.
The only potential downside to the Notification Assistant setting as it exists now is that only one app can be registered at a time. This means you won’t be able to use Google’s own Notification Assistant (perhaps branded under Google Assistant or Digital Wellbeing in the future) simultaneously with a third-party app. This would severely limit the market for such a third-party Notification Assistant, as likely few would choose not to use Google’s service if one existed.