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Do Not Disturb Mode: Android Marshmallow finally got it right

By Joe Levi October 19, 2015, 9:25 pm
Android Marshmallow Do Not Disturb Mode

Android has gone through a few iterations of “shut up and leave me alone” “Do Not Disturb” mode, but hasn’t gotten it right – until Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

At 2am my wife isn’t very supportive of me being “Joe the Android Guy™”. That seems to be when my nightstand lights up with alerts from all over the world. My nightstand typically has an Android Wear smartwatch cradled and charging, a Nexus 9 and Nexus 7 tablet, my Nexus 6, and usually at least one other phone or device that I’m evaluating.


When an alert comes in from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Skype, Hangouts, Gmail, Google Voice, text message, or a phone call, my whole dresser lights up, sounds off, and vibrates.


It’s terrifying to be woken from a sound sleep by all that racket – and my wife never seems to be able to fall back to sleep after such a jarring awakening.

Needless to say, I learned very quickly to silence all of my devices before turning in for the night – but that’s cumbersome and time consuming – and Heaven help me if I forget to some night!

Do Not Disturb Mode

Android M, the preview versions of Google’s latest operating system that would eventually become “Marshmallow”, took meaningful steps toward solving this issue – but “M” still didn’t do DND very well. It wasn’t until Android Marshmallow landed on my Nexus 6 and I saw the “Do Not Disturb” icon in the quick toggles pull-down menu that things began to change.

Tapping on the icon, like any other icon in the menu, serves as a quick toggle. Tapping the text below the icon brings you to a quick-settings panel where you can set your phone to “Total silence”, “Alarms only”, or “Priority Only”. You can even set your selection to stay on until you turn it off, or for a predetermined amount of time.


So far so good, but at the bottom of that panel is a “More Settings” link. That’s where the real beauty comes in.


Under “More Settings” you can define what “Priority only” means. In my case, “Priority” alerts are alarms, reminders, events, and messages and calls from contacts that I’ve “starred”. Because my phone number is “out there” and somewhat available to the public, I’ve disabled categorizing “repeat callers” as a priority event, though you may want to enable this feature to allow calls through if the same person rings a second time within a fifteen minute period.


Next up are “Automatic rules”, which, as the name implies, are rules that automatically trigger Do No Disturb Mode. In my case I want to be able to sleep on weeknights, so DND mode automatically turns on  at 9pm through 7am on weekdays and at 10:30pm through 10am on weekends. What’s more, I also have a rule to enable DND mode automatically during events from my calendar. Nice!


The results, so far, are wonderful!

Setup is easy and the rules always fire when they’re supposed to. Android Marshmallow finally got Do Not Disturb Mode right, and my wife has been able to sleep peacefully ever since I upgraded.



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