What are Android notification channels?

Notifications have been an important part of Android from the start. However, they can be both a curse and a blessing. To help you fine-tune your experience, Android has a feature called “Notification Channels”. They make notifications much better.

As smartphones and apps have evolved, notifications have also evolved. In the early days, the notification controls were pretty simple. You’d install an app and turn notifications on or off. As the apps became more complex, so did the notifications.

How to pause notifications on Android

Maybe you just want notifications for a specific thing from an app. Some apps have built-in granular notification controls, but not all. And you’d also have to browse that app’s settings, which may be organized in an unfamiliar way.

Notification channels are designed to simplify this process and give users more control.

What are notification channels on Android?

“Notification channels” were introduced in 2017 with Android 8.0 Oreo. The idea is that apps can group different types of notifications into “channels”. Each channel can then be switched on or off by the user. All of this is done in the Android settings.

Let’s look at YouTube, to the example. There are a few channels available. They have “Subscriptions,” “Live Streams,” and “Comments and Responses,” to name a few. If you just want to be notified of new videos from your subscriptions, you can turn everything else off.

Since all of these notification options are in the Android settings, the process is the same for each app. You don’t have to find where YouTube buries its notification settings, then looks for the settings in another app that could move them to an entirely different location.

The other big benefit of notification channels is the ability to customize things as they come in. Say you got one YouTube Notification for a live stream and you find that you don’t want to be notified about it. You can deactivate the “Live Streams” channel immediately.

Think of it like sticking a nozzle onto a water hose. Instead of just being able to choose between “On” or “Off”, you have much finer setting options.

Deactivate notification channels in the Android settings

There are two ways to customize notification channels. The first method is proactive, while the second is responsive to incoming notifications.

For the first method, swipe down from the top of your device’s screen (once or twice, depending on your phone or tablet manufacturer) and tap the gear icon to open the settings menu.

Next, choose Apps & Notifications.

Select apps and notifications

Tap “Show All” [Number] Apps ”for the full list of installed apps.

show all apps

Find the app that you want to customize the notification channels for.

choose an app

Now select “Notifications”.

Select notifications

At the top you still have the option to toggle all notifications on or off.

disable all notifications

Below that is the list of notification channels. Depending on the app, there may be a large number of channels or none at all. Switch one of the desired channels on or off.

Switch channels on or off

You can also customize the appearance of these notifications. First, tap on the name of the notification channel.

Choose a channel

Here you can decide whether notifications from this channel should ring or vibrate your phone, be silent or be shown on the screen.

Notification settings

Deactivating a notification channel from a notification

The second method requires you to receive a notification. Once you have one, tap and hold it until you see the settings.

long press the notification

Now select “Deactivate notifications”.

Turn off notifications

A menu will open and highlight the notification channel associated with the notification you just received. Turn off the switch.

turn off the notification channel

When you’re done, tap Done.

Tap Done to complete the process

That’s it! Notification channels make it possible to really dial in how notifications should work on your Android smartphone or tablet. It’s a great trick to find out if you’re getting annoyed by notifications.

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