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The Best Notification Apps for Android and iOS

Smartsheet Contributor Diana Ramos on Oct 25, 2019

Both Android and iOS devices have built-in notifications. If you want to enhance your experience, learn about the apps and settings that can personalize and improve how you receive notifications. In this article, you’ll find a list of notification apps for Android, details on how to handle notification apps on Apple iOS devices, and advice on picking the right app for you.

Notification Apps for Android

Notification apps comes in a variety of configurations: a panel replacement, a panel enhancement, those that appear on a locked screen, flashing alerts, heads-up/floating/pop-up variety, and audio notifications. The Android OS allows users more control over how their device operates than do Apple iOS products. That means that there are a lot of apps that replace or enhance basic functions already found on the phone. Not all apps listed in this guide will work on every device, since compatibility depends on which OS and device you’re using. But don’t worry, if your device doesn’t support a specific app, you’ll see a warning on the Google Play store.

Notification Apps Google Play Store Incompatable App Warning

Notification Panel Replacement Apps

These apps replace the stock notification panel (also called the notification tray or notification drawer) that comes on Android devices.

BlackBerry Hub+
Publisher: BlackBerry

BlackBerry Hub replicates the experience of its iconic devices (but without the keyboard). Hub is a group of apps that includes a calendar, Hub (the consolidated messaging inbox), calendar, contacts, notes, task manager, password keeper, and search. When you install this app, the  BlackBerry Hub notifications panel replaces the default Android panel. Hub provides high-security and message sorting based on the nature of the message and is intended for business users. However, the free option does not allow access to all the Hub apps.

Cost: Free with ads (ad-free for the first 30 days) or $.99/month for an ad-free version. 

Material Notification Shade
Publisher: Treydev, Inc

Material Notification Shade customizes the appearance/theme of the notification panel — you can even use your own images as background. You can reply to notifications without opening the app. The grouped notifications feature helps reduce clutter. You can also customize response gestures.

Cost: Free

Publisher: whowhoLab

Notistory lets you read message notifications without notifying the sender. You can also view notifications from non-running apps and group notifications from multiple apps. For even more customization, you can add keywords that, when they appear in a notification, will cause your device to vibrate. 

Cost: Free

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Notification Panel Enhancements

These apps add functions and improvements to the notification panel to create a more useful and personal experience.

Snowball Smart Notifications
Publisher: Squada

Snowball focuses on highlighting your most important notifications. This app adds a section to the notification panel where those messages will appear. You can open apps from the lock screen, search notifications, and customize fonts and colors. If you’d rather not launch an app, simply reply directly in the notification without opening the app. Heads-up notifications are an option, too. 

Cost: Free

Note: You must download the app from the Snowball site.

Publisher: dsimpletools

HelpMeFocus allows you to create schedules that block notifications from all or selected apps for chosen days and times. You can also restrict app usage, and immediately block any app for an hour. But don’t worry about missing a notification — you can still see all blocked notifications in the app.

Best Notification Apps Help Me Focus 1
Best Notification Apps Help Me Focus 2

Cost: Free

Notification History
Publisher: mydloch’s dev-team

Notification History does exactly what the name implies. Once you install the app, it stores a history of all notifications, even those dismissed from the app panel. You can snooze notifications, group notifications, search the log, and create a schedule. If you need to, you can also export the notification history log.

Best Notification Apps Notification History

Cost: Free with ads or $2.99 for the ad-free version

Publisher: Grenedeguy

Notifix organizes notifications into groups by type: social media, news, primary, and promotions.

Cost: Free    

Hide "running in the background" Notification
Publisher: iboalali

This app hides the persistent “app running in the background” notifications that don’t disappear even after tapping Clear All on your device. You can exempt specific apps from being hidden.

Cost: Free

Power Shade
Treydev, Inc

Use Power Shade to customize the appearance of the notification panel. You can group notifications by app, and reply to them without opening the app that sent them.

Cost: Free

Notification Blocker
Publisher: SoloVPN & NCleaner - Notification Cleaner

Notification Blocker removes unwanted system notifications, including heads-up notifications. Clean up unwanted notifications with a single tap. 

Cost: Free

Notes in Notifications
Publisher: Mstoic

Available with custom colors, Notes in Notifications adds note-taking to the notification panel. There is also a due date feature, which makes it ideal for jotting down to-do lists or reminders. Use the included widget to add notes to the panel without ever opening it.

Best Notification Apps Notes in Notifications

Cost: Free

Volume Notifications
Publisher: Seht

Use the Volume Notifications app to add audio/video volume controls to the notification panel.

Best Notification Apps Volume Notifications

Cost: Free

Bar Launcher
Publisher Johannes Obermair 

Bar Launcher adds an app launcher to the notification panel for quick access. Choose the apps you want to include.

Best Notification Apps Bar Launcher

Cost: Free

Notification Toggle
Publisher: j4velin

Notification Toggle adds Wi-Fi, Bluettoth, silent mode, flight mode, and screen rotation lock toggles (and more) to the notification panel. You can also add app shortcuts, too.

Best Notification Apps Notification Toggle

Cost: Free

Lock Screen Notifications

These apps add notifications to the lock screen so you don’t have to turn on your phone to see what’s happening.

Publisher: Artem Chepurnoy

Use AcDisplay’s notifications to open apps directly from the lock screen. The app features small icons that you swipe down to open the app, or press and hold to read the notification. You can prioritize or exclude apps, set a schedule, and disable the AcDisplay when the battery is low. The accelerometer turns on your phone when you take it out of your pocket or purse.

Best Notification Apps Acdisplay

Cost: Free

Publisher: Great Bytes Software

DynamicNotifications’ lock screen notifications allow you to open the notifying app by pressing and holding the alert. When you take out your phone or turn it over, the notifications will appear on the screen. Choose which apps you want to send you notifications, customize the app’s appearance and background image, and display the current time and date. You can also set a schedule of when to receive notifications, and customize swipe actions. Additional features are available for purchase.

Best Notification Apps Dynamic Notifications

Cost: Free

Floatify Lockscreen
Publisher: Jawomo

Floatify Lockscreen lets you choose which apps you want to send you notifications on the lock screen. Once you read and send replies without opening the associated app, the notification is marked as read. Large or small pop-up notifications are also an option when your phone is in use. The screen lights up when the device is picked up or removed from a pocket or purse. The premium version allows customization of gestures and appearances, the ability to hide notifications in full-screen mode, and more.

Cost: Free (lite version) or $2.99 (full version)

Visual Notifications

These apps will flash the LED, the screen, or the camera flash when you receive a notification. These are useful in environments where you can’t hear the device or it needs to be silent.

Front Flash Notification

When a phone is muted or in silent mode, Front Flash Notification will activate the front or rear camera flash (you can disable this feature if your phone is in a pocket or purse). Front Flash Notification works with the device’s do not disturb settings, and it’s easy to choose which apps will trigger a flash. You can also customize the flash pattern for specific apps.

Cost: Free

Light Flow
Publisher: Reactle

Light Flow flashes the notification LED in various colors and vibration patterns for different apps, and can also show notifications on the lock screen. You can choose which apps you want to be notified by. The full version offers the ability to be notified by a larger number of apps and events.

Cost: Free (lite version) or $2.49 (full version)

Flash Alert
Publisher: 3w studio

Flash Alert uses the camera flash for calls, texts, and messaging notifications. Shake the device to stop the flashing. You can deactivate notifications when the battery is low.

Cost: Free

Flash Notification 2
Publisher: manzy

Flash Notification 2 can activate the camera flash, the LED, or the screen to alert you about notifications. Customize the blink rate and number of flashes and set a schedule for notifications.

Cost: Free

Flash Notification
Publisher: Flash Alerts Team

Flash Notification allows you to customize the blink rate of the camera’s flash when calls, texts, or app notifications arrive. You can also select which apps will work with Flash Notification. Use the power or volume keys to stop the alert. The flashing feature is disabled when the battery is low.

Cost: Free

Heads-Up/Floating/Pop-up Notifications

These notifications appear on your screen as bubbles or small windows. They are useful for people who are constantly on their phones and want instant notifications from other apps.

Heads-up Notifications

Full text notification pop-ups appear with quick action options in this app. You can block unimportant apps, and prioritize the important ones. Reply to messages from the notification and set a schedule for notification-free times. There are plenty of customizable features, including the ability to change the theme and fonts, swipe actions, select the pop-up location, and display current song info (if you’re listening to music) and the date and time. Since Heads-up Notifications has pocket/purse detection, you’ll always be able to see notifications on the lock screen when you turn over the phone or pull it out.

Best Notification Apps Heads Up Notifications

Cost: Free

APUS Message Center
Publisher: APUS Group

APUS Message Center is a fully-functional message center, but its notification component uses pop-ups and includes a lock screen option. The app adds unread message counts to app icons and you can search past notifications. You can sort, group, and filter notifications by app and reply right from the notification for some apps. In addition to filtering spam, you can pin contacts and groups, and prioritize notifications by contacts.

Cost: Free

Smart Notify
Publisher: Milan Vyšata

Smart Notify notifications come via pop-up windows or the LED when the phone is in silent mode. Additionally, if you have a notification and remove the phone from a pocket or purse, the phone will vibrate. Easily silence notifications by covering the device with your hand or flipping it over. In addition, the app will notify you when losing a Wi-Fi connection, when the device is fully charged, or when the charger is disconnected. The full version adds the ability to send texts from the notification and add events to your calendar from the notifications.

Best Notification Apps Smart Notify

Cost: Free (lite version) or $3.49 (full version) 

Publisher: Pro Aps

Like many others in this category, notifications will appear on the lock screen. You can send quick replies from nBubble’s pop-up notifications. Customize the appearance of the pop-ups and disable notifications for selected apps. The Pro version offers themes and the ability to block notifications. 

Best Notification Apps NBubble

Cost: Free (lite version) or $.99 (Pro version)

Notification Bubbles
Publisher: Code & Design

When a notification (or a to-do item) appears in an on-screen bubble, pop it to reply, or move it and respond later. Customize bubble colors and set your favorite contact to appear as a heart-shaped bubble. The full version offers more bubble colors, seasonal themes, and up to three favorite contacts.

Best Notification Apps Notification Bubbles

Cost: Free (lite version) or $1.99 (full version)

Sound and Spoken Notifications

These apps provide audio notifications, which is useful if your phone nearby but you can’t keep a constant eye on it (i.e., while driving). 

Caller Name Reader: Shouter
Publisher: BHK

Shouter reads notifications of app events, battery and charging state, and reminders. You can set it to announce a caller’s names between rings, read incoming text messages, or say the name of the app that sent the notification. Other features include the ability to select the apps that you want to receive notifications from, disable announcements for unknown numbers, schedule silent hours, and shake the phone to mute notifications. The full version also offers time interval notifications (e.g. hourly, every 15 minutes). 

Cost: Free (lite version) or $.99 (full version) 

Talking Notification Girl
Publisher: Spicedroid

In this app, an avatar uses your phone’s speech settings to read notifications. You can also select which apps will work with Talking Notification Girl and add other customizations.

Best Notification Apps Talking Notification Girl

Cost: Free

Pioneer Notification App
Publisher: O&P Technology Corporation

The Pioneer Notification App reads notifications aloud to you. There are a couple of key differences with this app: you’ll need to be wearing Pioneer headphones to use it, and it lowers the volume of a song or podcast playing when the app dictates the message. You can select the apps you want to hear from. 

Cost: Free

Notification Apps Designed for a Computer

Use these apps to receive notifications from your phone’s apps on your computer. They’re useful for people concentrating on work, but who don’t want to miss anything on their phone.

Publisher: Pushbullet

Pushbullet sends text messages and other notifications to your computer, where you can reply to it. You can also send links and files between your devices. Dismissing a notification on one device dismisses it on the other, and you can reply to messages from your computer. To use this app, you’ll need Windows, Chrome (plus a browser extension), and a Google account.

Cost: Free

Desktop Notification
Publisher: SPickl

Desktop Notifications sends notifications to an open browser window, as well as to other Android devices (e.g. a tablet). You do not need to install any additional software.

Best Notification Apps Desktop Notifications

Cost: Free

Publisher: Pushover, LLC

Use Pushover to view notifications from your phone on a computer, tablet, or other mobile device. The Android app includes a widget that allows you to view notifications on the phone’s home screen. Developers can use the API to integrate the app with If This Then That (IFTTT), shell scripts, and other software. Apps available for Mac, Windows and iOS. Team plans available for a monthly fee.

Cost: $4.99 (after a 7-day free trial)

Publisher: rootkiwi

AN2Linux uses Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or cellular data to send phone notifications to a Linux computer.  The AN2Linux-server must be installed on the computer for it to work.

Cost: Free

General Apps with Notification Functionality

While not necessarily notification apps, the following two apps might be useful when dealing with that feature on your phone. 

Publisher: Lazy Ninja

Notin adds a section to the notification panel for taking notes or making lists. If you add a due date/time to your notes/lists, the app will send you a reminder. 

Best Notification Apps Notin

Cost: Free

Publisher: Nasah Apps

Use Unnotification to recover deleted notifications. You can choose which apps have recoverable notifications and search past notifications.

Best Notification Apps Unnotification

Cost: Free

Android Notification Settings and Features

You may be able to adjust your devices settings to get the type of notification experience you need, without downloading an app. Keep in mind that different OS versions and device models of Android will have distinct settings options and varying default notification processes. You can access these options via device settings or app settings. So, check out the notifications features in your apps as well. 

Here are a few notification features that are fairly standard across Android devices: 

  • Disable Notifications: You can disable notifications from particular apps or a set of apps, so that you only see those that are important. 
  • Sounds and Ringtones: Adjust the sound settings so that only certain notifications chime, or assign unique sounds to apps. You can also assign different tones to contacts so it’s easy to know who’s contacting you.
  • Lock Screen: Some versions of Android allow lock screen notifications. Check device settings to see if it’s an option. If the option is available, you can display all notifications or hide sensitive ones.
  • Do Not Disturb: If this option is available, you can set a schedule to disable notifications (with the ability to make exceptions for important apps). 
  • Gestures: A swipe dismisses an app, and a longer swipe gives you the option to snooze the notification or open the setting for the app. Press and hold the notification to silence all future ones from the particular app. In later versions of Android that bundle notifications, swiping down allows you to address each individual notification instead of all of them.

Notification Apps for iOS

Since the iPhone OS isn’t open like Android’s, there isn’t the profusion of apps. Cross-platform apps like Pushover are available, but you’ll have to make any other notification customization in the device settings.

Settings and Features

There are a couple ways to customize how notifications appear. Just like Android, options will vary based on which iOS version you have.

Use this setting to choose if notifications will include previews of the associated message that will always show, show only when the device is unlocked, or never show. You can set the default for all apps, and then customize each app.

App Options
For each app, you can choose whether or not to show notifications (when you first launch the app, you’ll be asked about notifications, but you can change this later in Settings). The following options are available:

  • Alert Locations: Lock screen, notification center, or banners
  • Banner Style: Temporary (the message disappears after a few seconds) or permanent (you have to dismiss it)
  • Sound: If a sound will play
  • Badge: If a new message badge will appear on the app icon
  • Grouping: There are three ways iOS will group notifications. The Automatic options will group notifications from app based on app alerts. By App will group all notifications from individual apps into expandable alerts. Finally, you can turn off grouping and the notifications will appear on your phone as they arrive.

How to Pick the Best Notification Apps for You

As mentioned above, the majority of apps are available for Android devices only. In fact, there are so many apps for Android that it might be overwhelming to choose the right one. Ask yourself the following questions to help narrow down which type of notification app is useful for you:

How to Pick the Best Apps for Work

While some of the same questions for personal use can help, cross-platform apps like Pushover that have team options might be useful in work environments. The BlackBerry Hub is another option to consider as it provides a robust set of tools for the office environment. Other features to consider when using a notification app at work include the following: 

  • If you work in a noisy environment, one of the visual notification or lock screen notification apps might be your best option. You’ll be able to see the alert, but you won’t be contributing to the noise level.
  • If you can’t access your phone during the work day but want to stay on top of things, consider one of the push notification options that will send alerts to another device.
  • If you spend a lot of time reading reports or creating spreadsheets, an app that provides sound or spoken alerts is a good option that can break up your day. But, close your office door or use headphones, so you don’t disturb your colleagues. 
  • If you don’t want any interruptions for a given period of time, look for an option that lets you control when you’ll receive alerts.  
  • If your job is mobile-centric, an app that provides heads-up, floating, or pop-up notifications is a good choice.

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