Restoring Message+ Notifications on Android Phones
Monday, January 06, 2020

This is probably the only phone-related post you'll ever see from me because (quite frankly) I hate cell phones. They're addictive distractors that ruin driving and family dinners, and if it weren't for the growing ubiquity of multifactor authentication to do even the most mundane things, I probably wouldn't even own one.

That said, about a month ago (mid-December), my Moto G7 stopped providing notifications when I received a text message. The screen would turn on and notify me visually if I were lucky enough to be looking at my phone at that moment, but it simply would not ring or vibrate. From what I could tell, the issue started roughly at the same time my phone auto-updated to Android 9.

I tolerated the problem for a while initially, thinking only to myself how asinine it is that the most basic functionality of a cell phone can not only be inadvertently (or even automatically!) disabled but also such an ordeal to figure out how to restore. After missing several important text messages, I'd had enough, and I needed to get this figured out.

I checked every setting I could find: volume, airplane mode, do not disturb, settings, etc. I Googled for the issue, finding countless others with the same problem – and an equally countless number of proposed solutions which did not work for me. I reset my all app preferences but stopped short of resetting my entire device (I refuse!)

I searched the settings section for "notifications" and found dozens of matches, many of which were unrelated and the remainder of which did nothing to solve the issue.

I knew the hardware itself was fine because I could make the phone play audio and vibrate via the volume buttons, so I assumed it was a setting that I still hadn't found. For kicks, I switched from the default Message+ app to Messages, and that worked. I was again receiving SMS notifications, but I hated the app! As such, I switched back to Message+ and continued to hunt.

Eventually, I went into Message+ and went into its settings (via the hamburger menu). This was the first time I'd ever gone into this area, so I'm 100% certain I never explicitly changed any of these settings to cause the problem at hand.

In the menu was a Notifications section, and all of the settings under the Notifications section were as-expected and should have resulted in me receiving text notifications. To be sure, I enabled every setting (with no luck), so I reverted them back.

At this point, I'd all but given up when – on a whim – I went into Customize (also from the Message+ hamburger menu). Amazingly (okay, I'm being polite; absurdly), there was a Notifications section – with completely different options than those in Settings 🡢 Notifications. Unreal.

Lo and behold, there it was: Behavior: Show silently. A few settings tweaked, and I was back in business.

TL;DR: The solution: Open Message+. Drop down the hamburger menu (top left). Tap Customize. Tap Notifications. Change Behavior as needed. Drop down Advanced settings, also as needed.

From a design perspective, there is just so much wrong here that I'm not even going to get into it; I'd just make myself mad writing about it. Suffice it to say, I'm happy to have my phone working as expected, and I hope this post helps spare someone else the madness I'd dealt with.

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