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Enable the Nexus 6’s secret RGB LED

Switch on the Nexus 6 hidden LED for an alternative notification alert to Ambient Display

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If you look carefully, you might spot a glint of light reflecting in your Nexus 6’s top speaker grill. This is an LED that Google and Motorola decided the flagship phone needed, but haven’t enabled as default.

Why would you want a flashing LED instead of using the Nexus 6’s Ambient Display? Perhaps you don’t want your entire screen to light up whenever you get a notification. Maybe you just want to tinker with your Android’s features.

In either case, here’s how to replace Ambient Display with a Blackberry-style blinking light for notifications.

This tutorial first appeared in Android Magazine’s ‘Hack your Nexus’ guide in issue 46. Ensure you never miss a copy of Android Magazine, buy it here or subscribe now.

 

 


  1. Prepare your device

    Enabling the RGB LED on the Nexus 6 is straightforward, but you do need to ensure that your device is rooted. This is because Lollipop provides no normal access to the LED – it needs to be controlled using root shell commands sent from an application with notification access, for instance an app like LightFlow.


  2. Install Lightflow

    LightFlow LED & Notifications is a £1.49 download from the Play Store which offers the ability to customise LED notifications on any Android device, enabling you to set the colour and sequence for any app/system event (hardware allowing). It also supports repeating notifications and sleep/charge modes.

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    Enable root mode and the mixer

    When you first load LightFlow, it will prompt you to enable notification access. In addition, to support the Nexus 6, you need to enable the Root mode, ‘Run every command as root’ and Direct mode options. You will also need to ensure you grant superuser access for all requests that pop up.

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    Disable ambient screen mode to save power

    The reason the LED is disabled on the Nexus 6 is because it includes Ambient Mode, which displays notifications on the screen when the device is in standby. There is an option in system settings to disable this when using the LED instead, which will improve battery life.

 

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