Ambient Display Notifications

Get Ambient Display Notifications on Any Device (6 Methods)

Feeling down?

How about some notifications to remind you that you are important?

Wrestling with a lock screen or having notification apps drain your battery is probably not going to cheer you up. What if we told you that your notifications don’t have light up the screen at full blast, or that you can merely glance at your phone to see what’s going on?

If you own a Motorola or possibly even a Nexus, this process is going to be simple—all you need to do is enable the ambient display or Moto Display.

Even if you don’t have either of those phones or an AMOLED screen, you can still have low-key, itemized, accessible, and timely notifications. Are there certain app notifications you could care less about?

Some models or apps allow you to choose your notifications. Many apps also give you options to reduce battery usage. Many models of phones running Lollipop already come with an ambient display option, but even if that’s not the case, there are apps for that.

Method 1: Enable Ambient Display Feature (Commonly on Motorola Devices and Some Nexus Models)

Note: Your device will need to be running at least the Lollipop operating system (5.0).

Ambient Display is similar to Moto Display found on Motorola devices. Moto Display can actually offer more options on certain Motorola devices, but be sure to also check out Method 2 below. With Ambient Display, the screen wakes automatically when notifications arrive, and depending upon the device, when you pick up the phone.

Step 1: Go to Settings

Go to the main phone Settings. You can access this from the notification bar or the Settings app in your app drawer.


Step 2: Choose Display

Scroll down to Display and tap it.


Step 3: Select Ambient Display

Toggle Ambient Display to an ON position.


After the feature is toggled on, you should see your screen act differently when you receive a notification. It won’t fully illuminate your screen, but will show the notification dimly.

Method 2: Enable Moto Display (For Motorola Devices)

With Moto Display, certain changes can trigger the screen to wake long enough to display a list of notifications without the use of the Power button. Moto Display self-proclaims that it’s battery-friendly, a claim that some users might find debatable.

It does have the advantage of only keeping the display lit for a short period of time, with the notifications fading in and out. It also affords options to select which apps to show notifications for, to display only the app icon within the notifications, and to vibrate on touch.

Step 1: Visit Apps


Step 2: Select Moto


Step 3: Tap Settings

This is the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner.


Step 4: Choose Display

This option is typically enabled by default.


Method 3: Get AcDisplay (Works Even on Unrooted Devices)

You will need Jelly Bean or above for this, but hopefully you already have that. There’s no need for you to mess with your lock screen to see notifications with this app. Notifications display in order from most recent to oldest. Stop receiving unwanted notifications by using the Blacklist feature. You have the option to replace your current lock screen with this one, or for them to work together.

Step 1: Download AcDisplay


After you download AcDisplay, you may need to grant a couple of permissions. One is to be a device administrator and the other is access to the notifications.

Step 2: Check out Blacklist

  • Don’t waste your battery on notifications you don’t want. Tap on Apps in the Settings for AcDisplay.
  • Choose the app you are not interested in receiving notifications from.
  • Hide and/or Silence the app.

Step 3: Set up Active Mode

  • Go to Settings.
  • Choose Active Mode if you want the phone to wake and display notifications when you move it.

Step 4: Notification Settings

  • From Settings, select Notifications.
  • Here you can opt in to wake the phone every time a notification is received.
  • You can also prevent notifications of lesser importance from showing up on the lock screen.

Step 5: Inactive Hours

  • You can set up a time frame for AcDisplay to not show notifications, like when you are sleeping. This can reduce battery consumption. In Settings, choose
  • Tap on Inactive Hours and specify the time frame.

Step 6: Customize Appearance

  • There are several options to customize the look of the interface from – you guessed it – the Interface setting which also happens to be located in Settings. Set wallpaper to custom or default, display battery status, go full screen, increase icon size, etc.

Step 7: Customize Even More

  • You might have already noticed that the More option in Settings affords you quite a few choices. If you really only need the app when your battery is charging, Only While Charging is where you make that happen.
  • Need a few seconds and a bigger widget to access that notification? Choose Pinnable Notification.

Method 4: Install Xposed (For Rooted Devices with Custom Recovery Only)

This trick is for advanced users who have rooted or are willing to root their phone. If we just described you, we think you will love what you can do on your phone using Xposed, Xposed Gel Settings, and GravityBox. You will also gain Pie Controls, Lockscreen Tweaks, more Power menu features, and Navigation Bar Tweaks. This is the best way to get ambient display on the Nexus 5.

Step 1: Install Xposed


Xposed GEL Settings [ROOT]

GravityBox Unlocker (Optional)

Step 2: Launch Xposed


Step 3: Go to Downloads

Step 4: Enable Ambient Display

Search for the module with this title.

Step 5: Download

Install the module.

Step 6: Activate Module

Look for the module in Settings and enable it.

Step 7: Reboot

Have fun! Customize as you please.

Method 5: Get Glimpse Notifications

This app makes things more convenient for you by not requiring you to press the Power button to see Lollipop’s lock screen notifications. Glimpse Notifications is free and ads are minimal to non-existent. You get to keep your current lock screen. If you are still using the Kit Kat operating system, the DashClock app listed directly below might better suit your needs.

Step 1: Download Glimpse Notifications

You will have to agree to terms and conditions in order to use the app.

Glimpse Notifications

Step 2: Enable Notifications

You will have to give permission to Glimpse Notifications to listen and respond to notifications. At the bottom of your screen, tap the Enable button.


Step 3: Add Apps

You can specify the apps you want to receive notifications for. Choose App Selection and add apps to your whitelist or exclude them.


Step 4: Control Lockscreen

Toggle the features you want to enable: Double Tap to Lock, set how long the screen stays on with Customize Lockscreen Display, or enable pocket mode with Lock When Covered.


Step 5: Quiet Down

Step 6: Fine Tune Notifications

  • Do you only want the screen to wake when you move the phone? That’s what Motion Detection is for.
  • Need a reminder? Display notifications again after a certain span of time by setting up Recurring Notifications.

Select Quiet Time to avoid being disturbed during timeframes of your choice.

Step 7: Explore Extras

There are many more customization options in the Extras section.

Method 6: Lock Screen Apps and More

If you are interested in having a custom launcher or you already do, you can also download a lock screen app and link the two together with the gesture of your choice. You can use the custom launcher of your choice, but it does need to support gestures in order for this to work. Examples of such launchers include Nova Launcher and Buzz Launcher. Or there are plenty of lock screen apps out there that offer notification options similar or equivalent to ambient display.

You can also use apps like Gravity Screen in conjunction with Ambient Display to turn your screen on or off automatically with a gesture to avoid pocket dialing situations.

Nova Launcher

Buzz Launcher

Gravity Screen

Step 1: Download Lock Screen

  • SlideLock Locker really could be your all-in-one solution. It wakes the screen briefly when you receive notifications to give you the choice of tapping or swiping to dismiss them. You can use custom settings for each app.
  • Lock Screen offers Easy Notifications.
  • NiLS Lock Screen Notifications is a very well-designed app in terms of efficiency, customization, privacy, and ease of use.

SlideLock Locker

Lock Screen

NiLS Lock Screen Notifications

Step 2: Explore Lockscreen Options

  • In SlideLock Locker, simply swipe the screen right to unlock and slide left to quickly access the camera.
  • Personalize wallpapers and passcodes in Lock Screen.
  • Customize your background and font in NiLS, or it also supports custom themes.

Step 3: Fine Tune Notifications

  • You can choose how your notifications are displayed in NiLS—their alignment, grouping, timeout, etc.
  • The other two apps are more limited, but sometimes the beauty of an app lies in its simplicity – as is the case with SlideLock, or in its pretty wallpaper or photos – within Lock Screen.


I have grown so used to my notifications and display that it would seem like something was broken without it. Ambient display notifications can be the best way to strike a balance between knowing what is going on in your Android world at a glance and not developing full-blown OCD disorder from checking every minute. The repercussions on your battery can be severe.

At the same time, you want your phone to be smart enough to know the difference between your pocket and your face. Sometimes that is still a struggle. I don’t know how many pictures of the inside of my purse I have had to delete. Apps that specialize in gestures can mitigate this problem to a degree.

Tell us how you like your ambient display notifications in the comments section below. If you are having difficulty, tell us about your troubles.

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One Comment

  1. I just purchased a Moto Z play without knowing it does not have LED notification. I rely onit heavily to alert myself to messages since I am hard of hearing/deaf.
    This phone does have ambient display however it only displays the time!

    I’ve tried notification apps from the market but each comes its their own problems, including messing with the volume of ringtones.
    I’ve tried everything.
    If I could just be alerted of messages and be able to read snippets of them instead “new sms” etc….my Moto Z Play would be a great phone.

    Shouldn”t ambient display show more than just the time ???

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