The Status Bar of Android is used for a number of different things but its main goal is to convey some information to you. The user experience is best when this is possible with a simple glance (thanks to distinctive icons). But there are other ways too so let me discuss the purpose of the Status Bar with you.
I’m not going to be getting into too many details about the Android Status Bar here. Not because it isn’t important, but because most people already know what this is. iOS users have a Status Bar and we see them in the software of feature phones as well. So even non-smartphone owners are familiar with what a Status Bar is.
I do, however, want to talk to you about the main purpose of the Status Bar, though. I want to show you the ways in which an application can manipulate it. And I will then touch on a few mods and applications which leverage the Status Bar to bring additional functionality to the user.
Android’s Status Bar has Little Functionality
When I say that, I’m talking about the actual Status Bar itself. Tapping on it doesn’t really do anything. Swiping across it doesn’t do anything (in most cases). And you’re not even going to see anything happening if you tap and hold on any spot of the Status Bar.
As far as interaction is concerned, most of us don’t do anything more than swiping down from the Status Bar.
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I have previously explained what Android’s Notification Shade is and how to access it. In that guide, I showed you that we can access it by swiping down on the Status Bar. As you can see from the feature image of this Android 101 guide, the Status Bar is almost always present at the top of the screen.
In most situations, you will see its contents isolated in an actual bar that goes across the top of the display. Again, referencing the featured image is a good idea in this case it shows you what I mean. However, developers can also let the contents bleed into whatever application you’re currently in.
You can look at the Home Screen of most smartphones (and their respective stock launchers) to see how this changes the look of the Status Bar. The physical bar is gone (transparent actually) while the text, numbers, and icons actually blend into the contents of your display (which is usually an image).
Android’s Immersive Mode Hides the Status Bar
I would consider the image above to be quite immersive when you consider the Status Bar is sitting up there at the top. Even if the bar itself is transparent, the contents will be displayed on the screen unless your smartphone or tablet is in what Android calls its Immersive Mode.
Now, Immersive Mode is enabled in certain applications but the developer has to configure the application to transition you into the special mode. Most image gallery applications support this feature now so if you’re unfamiliar with how this all works then try it out there.
Mobile gamers will also notice that most of their games trigger Android’s Immersive Mode as well.
As an Android user, you even have the option of downloading an application from Google Play that will let you manually enable or disable Immersive Mode. This is an interesting mode because it not only hides the Status Bar but it will hide the Navigation Bar as well.
This is great because it puts the contents of your app (or game) in full focus of the user. As we evolve to a smartphone industry with smaller and smaller bezels, having a full screen device with content that triggers Immersive Mode is very impressive. This is especially true for videos and games but it’s nice for all apps.
I’m not trying to say I dislike the Status Bar. The information it conveys is vital and I enjoy getting the information I need with a quick glance.
There are just some instances where I don’t need it displayed all the time. Any application that I’m actively using is a great example of this. I wouldn’t mind all apps triggering Immersive Mode. If I’m actively using the phone then I won’t mind swiping down from the top of the screen to see some information.
What Else Can Android’s Status Bar Do?
Since there is an app that lets you manually trigger Immersive Mode, let me take a moment to tell you about some other things people are doing with the Status Bar.
- Swipe the Status Bar to Adjust the Display’s Brightness
- Double Tap the Status Bar to Lock the Display
I could go on and on here but as you can tell, people are bringing more functionality to Android’s Status Bar. Some of this is possible thanks to regular apps in the Play Store. Other times you will need root access and a popular mod like Xposed, Magisk, or even a custom ROM to enable the feature.
There’s a lot more that we can do with Android’s Status Bar, but with the push to going full screen everything, we could see it evolving in the near future.