It seems that the icons in the status and notification bar get shaken up with every major Android update, sometimes changing appearance or disappearing entirely. If you find yourself not knowing what the two arrow and letters mean, for example, we're here to help make sense of these unintelligible glyphs. After all, what good are all these icons if you can't understand them. We've also added a word on using Android customizations such as Huawei's EMUI.
Status bar and notification bar: An important distinction
The status bar
The status bar and the notification bar are very similar, but in reality, they are two different things. The status bar is at the top of the display, on the right. The time, the battery status and current connections like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are displayed here.
On the left side of this strip, you'll find app icons to alert you to new messages, updates to the Play Store, and other notifications. Also, ongoing notifications can be accommodated here. So, if you listen to music via Spotify or Google Play Music, the corresponding icon will be displayed permanently. The sequence of the icons indicates how new or old the notifications are. The most recent notifications are displayed on the far left.
The notification bar and drawer
The notification bar contains notifications, which you can open with a wipe down like a curtain. On this notification drawer you swipe down, a lot of information is shown in a small space. You can preview a screenshot, read a WhatsApp message, see Facebook updates and more. You can then decide whether you want to open the app or remove the notification with a wipe to the right. Since Nougat, these embedded notifications are smarter than ever: You can now respond directly to messages without even having to open the app first.
In addition to the notifications, the quick settings are also located here. Here you can make settings quickly and efficiently. This allows you to enable and disable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other options. If you press and hold down an icon, you will enter the settings for this function. Most manufacturers offer direct access to the screen brightness setting.
Most manufacturers also customize the quick settings themselves. Therefore, there are always several options here. Fortunately, the selection can be personalized to your tastes and habits so you always have access to the most important settings for you. Also, you can always disable annoying or uninteresting notifications just by long-pressing an alert. This will open a small menu where you can choose how you want to be notified by the app.
The meaning of the icons
For each notification, an app icon is displayed, in addition to the icons for various system statuses. With each Android version, new changes arrive for each of these. Since Lollipop, Google's material design has had an influence on these icons.
These small design changes can, unfortunately, create confusion. Sometimes an icon appears which doesn't immediately make its own meaning clear - which defeats the point of having it at all. Google also recognized this and provides a list of all of the material design icons. Here, you can clearly see which icon stands for what.
The top picture shows the most famous icons, which you already know inside and out. Below are the icons for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, battery, clock and screen rotation. On the list, however, are not just the ones you're used to seeing every day, but all the icons of Android you could ever encounter. The reference list of every Android icon is divided into the following categories:
A word about Android customizations
As you well know, some manufacturers add their own customization software over the top of Android. Huawei has its EMUI, Oppo has ColorOS and OnePlus uses its OxygenOS. Whilst these customizations don't fundamentally change the way the status and notification icons look or react, you can often find options that are exclusive to the software you are running. You can see an example of what we mean in the image below, which shows Huawei's EMUI 8.0.
As you can see in the image, it is also possible to customize your drop-down status bar by dragging and dropping the icons you use and don't use so that only your chosen few show up when you pull down the status bar. Pretty cool!
These icons are the Android standard icons, but they can vary a bit from manufacturer to manufacturer. Have you ever seen a notification or an icon that you just can't figure out the meaning of? Describe it in the comments, and let us know what type of phone you have!