Immersive Mode was one of the cooler features introduced in Android KitKat, but it was only introduced for certain apps. Now you can get Immersive Mode across all your apps if you’re running Android 4.4 KitKat or later, and it doesn’t require root access. (Though it is just one of many great KitKat features you can get on any device.)
Care to learn how? Read on.
What Is Immersive Mode?
Immersive Mode simply hides the status bar and navigation bar when not in use. This allows for a more immersive experience while in the app, maximizing your screen real estate and reducing distractions.
Above, you can see the difference between an app operating in regular mode (left) and Immersive Mode (right). Notice that you can read further into the article with Immersive Mode, but also take note of the red line — we’ll discuss that later.
Your status bar is the bar along the top of your screen that shows the time, your battery life, and your notifications. The navigation bar, however, runs along the bottom of your screen and is only present on some devices. Most Samsung devices, like the Galaxy S5, have hard keys that are below the screen, so they don’t use the navigation bar.
Other devices like the Nexus 5 or LG G3 don’t have hard keys, and instead rely on the navigation bar for the Home, Back, and Multitasking options. For more on the differences between Android devices, see our explanation of Android skins.
Using Immersive Mode In All Apps
The app that gets this all done is called GMD Full Screen Immersive Mode, and it’s available as a free download in the Google Play Store. Head over there, download it, and you’re ready to go.
It will warn you once you first open it that your keyboard might not function while the navigation bar is hidden. In some cases, you’ll need to summon the navigation bar for the keyboard to work.
Then you will be presented with four options: General, Trigger, Applications, and Upgrade. General should be your first stop. Here, you can decide if you want a persistent notification, if you want the app to start when your device boots up, and if you want it to affect the lockscreen.
Three buttons run along the top of the app on all screens, and they are for setting your level of Immersive Mode. The icon to the left with bars along the top and bottom represents no change — your status bar and navigation bar will stay where they are. The second option keeps the status bar but auto-hides the navigation bar. The third option allows you to hide both the status bar and navigation bar.
The biggest downside here is that these settings apply system-wide, across all your apps. To customize the settings on a per-app basis and adjust other aspects of the app, you’ll need the Pro version.
Unlocking More Features
The Pro version of GMD Full Screen Immersive Mode costs $2.70, and is available as an in-app purchase. This unlocks the ability to change settings on a per-app basis. Under the Applications section, you can set specific apps to open either in Immersive Mode, partial Immersive Mode (just the navigation bar hidden), or normal mode.
Under the Trigger section, you can change several options as shown above. These allow to you customize the trigger area so that it is small enough to stay out of the way while big enough to hit easily. Remember that red line from earlier? It’s back.
Below, you can see the red line that you have to deal with in the free version. When the navigation bar drops down, the red line stretches along the bottom of your screen, and tapping on it will toggle Immersive Mode. To make it a different color or invisible requires the Pro version.
The fact that the Pro version is required to make the trigger area transparent is a bummer, but as the only app of its kind, the developer is able to ask for that. All other ways of enabling Immersive Mode so far (like flashing a custom ROM) have required root access, but this one is available to non-rooted users.
What Do You Think Of Immersive Mode?
Immersive Mode, while it can be extremely handy, isn’t for everyone. It does seem to be sticking around, though, for the release of Android Lollipop in the coming weeks.
Is Immersive Mode something you like to use regularly on your device?
Image Credits: Hands hold the pin Via Shutterstock