Computer Expert Witness
Graham Dilloway CITP MBCS
Computer Expert Witness

Chartered IT Professional and Member of British Computer Society

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Android Nexus 4 LED Notification Light

LED Notification Light Support in Android

The Nexus 4 has a small LED notification light that is just below the screen. The LED notification light can be enabled to blink when there are notification messages in the bar at the top of the screen and these messages cannot be seen because the screen is off.

Unfortunately, the support for the LED notification light from Android and its apps is poor. This poor support is the reason why I did not notice the LED light until months after I started to use the phone.

It appears that Android does very little to support the LED light. Individual apps can choose to use the the LED light or not.

I enabled the LED light in Settings by ticking "Pulse notification light" in the settings for Display.

I use the apps that are built in to Android for making calls, for SMS text messages and for email. I have notifications enabled in the Settings of the SMS app and the email app. I do not know of any way to switch on and off the notifications in the phone app.

A message is added in the notification area at the top of the screen when I miss an incoming call and when I receive an SMS text message or an email. The LED notification light blinks when there are SMS or email notification messages and the screen is off.  I did not find any way to to make the LED light blink when I missed a call. A missed call notification message was in the notification area and the screen was off but the LED light did not blink..

The LED notification light blinks on and quickly off about once every ten seconds. The LED notification light does not help me to see that the there is a message in the notification area by glancing at my Nexus 4. I have to watch the phone for about ten seconds and wait to see if the LED light blinks. I did not find any way to change the blink rate by changing Android settings.

Some applications have good support for the LED notification light. For example, WhatsApp allows the LED light to be switched on (and its colour changed) in WhatsApp settings.

The support for the LED notification light in Android and its built in apps on the Nexus 4 appears to be of little use ...

I wanted to see the LED notification light flash on a trigger and when a notification message was added ...

I found two apps in the Google Play store that are able to control the LED notification light.

Light Flow Lite

I installed Light Flow Lite.

I started Light Flow Lite. I did not change any of the values under Settings. I tapped Notifications and this displayed icons for each of the events that could be set to cause the LED notification light to flash. I tapped the Email icon and tapped to enable email notifications.  I did not have to do any more to get a flashing LED notification light whenever an email was received.

Light Flow Lite supports all of the notifications that I require except WhatsApp. There are about sixteen notifications supported in the Lite version of Light Flow. The full version of Light Flow supports a vast array of apps.

There are many settings that can be changed in Light Flow for individual notifications including the colour and flash rate of the LED light. The general Settings that can be changed include a start and end time for sleep when Light Flow will not flash the LED light.

Light Manager

I uninstalled Light Flow Lite and installed Light Manager.

I started Light Manager. I tapped Email notification LED in the displayed list and tapped to enable email notifications.I did not have to do any more to get a flashing LED notification light whenever an email was received.

Light Manager supports more apps and notifications than Light Flow Lite. Light Manager allows apps to be added that are not included in the default list. Light Manager allows the colour and flash rate of the LED light to be changed and supports sleep time when the LED light will not flash in the same way as Light Flow.

In my opinion, there is very little to choose between Light Flow Lite and Light Manager. I am using Light Manager because it is a a tiny bit quicker and easier to setup.


Light Flow Lite is here...

Light Manager is here...