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How to get an Always On display on any Android device

How to get an Always On display on any Android device

Are you jealous of the Always On display feature of the Galaxy S8 and LG G6, or the Moto Display of Motorola devices? You can have this feature on your Android phone! I tested an app called Grace Plus for a few days, and it would be a great alternative for anyone with an AMOLED display on their device.

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Grace Plus on Android / © ANDROIDPIT

Always On or Ambient Display: what is it?

Always On is a feature that allows your device to always be displaying information about the current time, date, battery, weather and notifications without unlocking the screen. Introduced on the Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge and LG G5, it makes life easier for those who can't keep themselves from turning the display on constantly, looking for new notifications, unlocking it every time and thus draining their battery. 

Ambient Display has the same function, however, it is triggered by movement, using the proximity sensor of the smartphone as the main trigger. Motorola calls this Moto Display.

The following app is particularly suited for devices that have AMOLED screens but are nonetheless without an Always On or Ambient Display display feature. Other devices which don't have an Always On feature may not have it for a good reason: If your device has an LCD screen, being 'always on' would consume much more battery life because the display will be fully powered on, including the black pixels. With AMOLED display technology, only the white pixels need to be lit. Also, apps like these may cause battery drainage not just from powering the display, but by keeping your phone from going into standby mode, meaning some background processes will keep ticking on unnecessarily.

How Glance Plus works

Taking advantage of the proximity sensor of your device, the app Glance Plus will allow you to check the time, weather forecast, notifications and all sorts of useful information without unlocking the screen. That means it's a mix between Always On and Ambient Display.

Once you've installed the app, you'll find yourself in the Settings menu which will allow you to customize every detail: from the font of the time displayed and the calendar, to the position of the information you specify on the screen, to the size and color of the text. 

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The functions offered by Glance Plus. / © ANDROIDPIT

You decide, by switching it on or off, whether to show notifications for calls and unread messages, by which apps you want to be notified, whether to display battery-related information, the alarm clock and weather forecast. Among the other items that you can manage, you can set the brightness level and screen timeout.

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You can set Glance Plus to only be on when the phone is charging. / © ANDROIDPIT

As you can see by clicking on the Always on section of the Settings (pictured above), you can choose to make full use of the Always on function only when the device is charging. When your smartphone is not charging you can view the date, time and notifications by swiping your hand over the proximity sensor. Through the Settings menu, you can also decide whether to enable the function whenever you pull out your smartphone from your pocket (under the menu item Detect phone in pocket) and/or as soon as the display is turned off (Show glance after screen off). 

The app offers several customization options and is easy to use. To view the notifications while the screen is off you must first allow Glance Plus to access your notifications. Once you select your favorite configurations and activate the app, with the slider on the top right, you can start taking advantage of the service - and if you need to reactivate the screen, you can just do a double tap!

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Nothing could be more intuitive. / © ANDROIDPIT

If you have a device with an AMOLED screen, I suggest you set the position of the information displayed to the Random setting. This is to prevent a burn-in effect, an annoying, permanent 'ghost image' caused by displaying static content for too long. Unless you really need it, I also recommend not activating weather information, as this could drain the battery a lot.

Glance Plus is a good alternative to Always On for those of us who want to see information without having to wake our smartphones, but it doesn't completely replace it, unfortunately. Nevertheless, the app may improve with future updates.

What do you think of Glance Plus?

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  • I was using Glance Plus on my Xperia XA1 Ultra until it updated to Android 8.0 and then it quit working. None of these always-on apps would work for me. Then I found Battery Screen Saver. It is only on when my phone is charging which is what I really wanted the app for. I also have to manually start it in Android settings by going to Settings/Display/View - Screensaver and then hit the 3 dots menu and hit start now. Could be less complicated but it's a great app nonetheless.

  • Oh I thought this was a feature of Galaxy S8 only. Thanks, this was informative!