Some Android devices don’t have dedicated notification LEDs. My own Acer Liquid E does have them, but the Samsung Galaxy S (for example) doesn’t. So if you leave the device for a few moments and want to see if anyone tried to contact you while you were away, you need to unlock it and check Android’s notifications. If you do that several times every day, it can become a bit of a hassle. But if you use NoLED, you may not have to.
For such a simple app, NoLED’s configuration interface is surprisingly rich. But before we delve into the configuration, let me show you what the notifications look like:
The icons are self-explanatory. What the screenshot doesn’t show, though, is that they keep moving around all over the screen, to prevent screen burn. So it looks more like a colorful screen saver than a bunch of static notification icons. Still, since each icon is colored so differently, it’s easy to spot if you’ve received a new email or GTalk message.
If the icons seem a bit large, don’t worry – you can also have NoLED look like this:
And even like this:
Yup, just a black screen with a bunch of tiny colored squares, each taking up just a few pixels. In this mode, the pixels still move around but only in the top-left corner of the device (or top-right, configurable). It does require a very good memory for colors, though, so it’s a good thing you can configure each color to your liking:
This brings us to the configuration interface. So let’s do a whirlwind tour of some of its features, starting with the main screen:
That first setting isn’t the only thing you need to do to switch NoLED on. You also need to put a widget on your homescreen and activate it, or reboot your phone (NoLED launches on startup by default).
The two main issues with NoLED, for me, are that I usually don’t use a lock screen (I don’t need it on my device), and that using the LCD for notifications can drain the battery quite quickly. While there’s not much to be done about the first issue (NoLED does require a lock screen), let’s see what battery saving features we can use:
This is one clever app! It can cycle power to the screen in user-defined intervals (for example, 500ms on, then 8 seconds off), and use your phone’s proximity sensor to figure out when it’s in your pocket or face-down on the table, where you’re not likely to see the screen.
Another battery-saving feature is Sleep mode:
You can set NoLED to stop working during the night, and switch itself back on in the morning. That means that during the night it won’t turn on your phone’s screen and won’t waste your battery.
I could go on and on, but I don’t want to bore you with a laundry list of everything NoLED lets you configure. Suffice it to say this app lets you configure everything — even its interface language, which has been localized to over a dozen different languages.
This is one of the most powerful free Android apps I reviewed in recent memory, and it took me by surprise. Its basic function is so simple, I did not realize how customizable it can be made until I dug in. I expected the configuration interface to consist of a couple of basic settings, and was blown away by all of the options. If your device doesn’t have notification LEDs, this looks like the definitive solution.