Toasts: Should Not Be Important, May Be Blocked

I do not claim to be a UI/UX expert, nor do I play one on (Google) TV.

However, it stands to reason that things that are important should be visible for longer than a few seconds, wherever possible.

In other words, purely transient effects, such as a Toast or the “ticker text” of a Notification, should not be the sole source of important information. It is far too easy for a user to miss these, partly due to size (both tend to be small), but mostly because they are short-lived. All the user needs to do is be distracted for a few moments at the wrong time, and they will miss the important information.

If you want to use a Toast or Notification ticker in addition to something else, that is fine. Or, perhaps the “something else” is sufficient for your needs, such as displaying the information in a banner-style area within your activity. It just has to stick around if it is truly important.

This is compounded by the fact that, on Android 4.1+, if the user disables notifications, this also disables the display of a Toast. Even the foreground activity cannot display a Toast if notifications are blocked for the app.

This behavior is flagged as a defect, and so it is possible that Toasts will return despite notifications being blocked, or be allowed in certain circumstances (e.g., processes with foreground priority).

But since users can block a Notification (and, by current extension, a Toast), and since the ticker text and the Toast are transient, do not use them as the sole means of delivering important information. Your users should be worth a better UI.

(also, thanks to Harri Smått for pointing out this issue!)

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