What Android's notification snoozing needs next

Android's new system for snoozing notifications is a fantastic framework, but a key piece of the puzzle is conspicuously missing.

Android Notification Snoozing
BrokenSphere/JR Raphael (CC BY-SA 3.0)

I love to snooze.

I'm not just talking about my nightly beauty slumber, mind you (but yes, my skin is looking rather radiant today — thanks for noticing). I'm talking about the new notification snoozing feature in Google's Android 8.0 Oreo release.

If you've been hanging 'round these parts for long, you know notification snoozing is something I'd yearned for ever since I started using Google's Inbox app a couple years back. Snoozing is a core part of Inbox's organizational system, y'see: Instead of letting emails pile up and turn into counterproductive clutter, you either deal with messages right away or snooze 'em so they'll get out of your way and then return when they're relevant — or when you're likely to have the time and inclination to think about 'em.

That's why I was so excited to see the same concept come to system-wide notifications in Oreo. I'll often get a notification for something outside of email that I can't or don't want to deal with right away — like an ill-timed text message in the middle of the work day — and I know if I just leave it sitting there, I'll inevitably forget about it or inadvertently dismiss it at some point.

Now, with Android 8.0, I can "triage" my notification panel every time I open it — just like I do with my inbox. If there's something I can deal with right away, I do it. If something doesn't require any action, I swipe it away. And if something demands a response or some other form of attention that I can't provide immediately, I snooze it so it gets out of my hair and then pings me again when the time's right.

No question, it's a spectacular start for a valuable productivity feature. There's just one problem: As it stands right now, Android 8.0's notification snoozing system is far too limited. And as a result, it's nowhere near as useful as it could be.

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Let me back up for a second to explain: With Inbox, when you snooze an email, you can choose from a handful of default times — "Later today," "Tomorrow," "This weekend," or "Next week" — all of which correspond with times you can customize in the app's settings. Handy, right? Well, sure. But beyond that, you can also specify any time and date or even any physical location that makes sense as a trigger for your item to reappear.

Notification Snoozing Inbox JR

Compare that to Android's new notification-based snoozing system, and you'll see what I'm getting at. When you snooze a notification on Oreo, you've got four options: You can snooze it for 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, or 2 hours — and that's it.

Android Notification Snoozing Times JR

Hey, don't get me wrong: That lineup is still pretty practical, and I'd take it over nothing any day. But think how powerful Android's notification snoozing system would be if it expanded to include all the options Inbox offers — not only the customizable default times but also the instance-specific time and date option and the super-versatile location capability.

With such an expansion, you could snooze that 2 p.m. text message from your college buddy all the way to 7 p.m., when you're likely to have a chance to get back to him. You could snooze the Facebook message with the address for a Saturday get-together all the way to the weekend, when it's actually going to be relevant. You could snooze all sorts of notifications so that they appear when you walk into your house, the grocery, the airport, or any other location that beautiful big brain of yours can imagine. The possibilities are practically endless, as is the potential for enhanced productivity.

Best of all? Google already cooked up this same system with Inbox — and with Keep, too — so we know it's possible. It's just a matter of bringing the same concept over to the Android notification realm.

What we're seeing now is an admirable framework that's just a tiny tweak away from becoming something incredible — and something incredibly valuable for anyone focused on efficiency. Here's hoping Google takes that next step soon.

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