One of the key functions of a good smartphone is to give you information at-a-glance, so when a new text message, email, or other alert comes in, you can quickly scan it and decide whether it warrants an immediate response. But there’s not a lot of space near the top of your phone where the notifications hang out.
So the folks behind Paranoid Android decided to come up with a new way to show notifications. They call it Hover, and it’s a system that brings up a larger notification near the top of your screen for a few seconds so you have time to read a message. If you want to interact with the notification, you can tap it to open the app in a “floating” mode allowing it to open up on top of your other apps without minimizing them.
Here’s what Hover looks like in action.
Hover is an optional feature of Paranoid Android… which is an optional version of Android which you can install to replace the stock Android software that comes with recent Nexus phones and tablets as well as other supported devices.
In other words, if you don’t like Hover, you don’t have to use it. But the Paranoid Android team has a history of rethinking the way Android works.
Earlier builds of the operating system, for instance, involved Halo: a notification system that also had a floating apps component, and which displayed alerts on the screen even when the notification tray was hidden. Paranoid Android also developed PIE controls, which allow you to hide the Android home, back, and recent apps keys most of the time and bring them up (along with a notification window) using a gesture.
Many of Paranoid Android’s most innovative features haven’t been available in the team’s custom builds of Android 4.4 KitKat because the team has been using the move from Android 4.3 to Android 4.4 as an opportunity to redesign most of its software from scratch. So while Halo is gone for good, Hover is just getting started.