There is a new Android 11 Developer Preview. This one is Preview 3, and was launched yesterday for the Google Pixel track. The previous Android 11 preview didn’t have many new additions, but this version has many strange and interesting UI changes for us to discuss and get confused.
The latest application is missing an application drawer
On Android 9 Pie, the latest application screen turns into a thumbnail list that scrolls horizontally with the application drawer expandable at the bottom. In the release of Android 11 Preview 3, the app drawer disappears. It has been replaced by a choice of two very weak buttons: “Screenshot” and “Share.”
Removing the application drawer from the Latest Application is an interesting decision, considering that only two years ago the Recent Application was redesigned to support this access to the application drawer. The app drawer and application icon are all part of the home screen launcher, so to make the feature work in the Latest Application, the Latest Application is pulled out of the core System UI and makes part of the launcher code. This saves Google from having to make all kinds of special APIs that allow other applications to access the application drawer – all of which are only bundled into the launcher application.
The disadvantage of placing the Latest Application in the launcher is that third-party launchers cannot access new application-drawer-in-application features. If you install a third-party launcher, the Latest Application drawer application will only disappear, leaving you with a naked-looking screen that only shows thumbnails. So this change has different meanings for different people. If you use the default launcher that came with your phone, the application drawer will disappear. If you are using a third-party launcher, two new buttons will appear on the Latest Application screen, in the previously empty space.
Two additional buttons— “Screenshot” and “Share” – actually don’t look like the final UI bits in terms of design or functionality. First, they do the same thing. “Screenshot” will save the application thumbnail to your screenshots folder, while “share” will share thumbnail thumbnails to the application of your choice. Usually you only need to take a screenshot and then press the share button, so having two buttons next to each other looks redundant. The Share button appears to be bugged now. It doesn’t work with some apps and shares screenshots along with some junk data with others. For example, in Gmail it will automatically add the name of the application package to the “to” field, as if it were a valid email address.
I can really add a “screenshot” button to somewhere in the UI that is clear and easy to find. If you do remote technology support on someone’s cellphone, getting a less technical user to successfully take a screenshot with a secret key combination (power + volume down) can be difficult. At some point, Google adds a screenshot button to the power menu, but it’s another secret button – a long-pressing power – that users might not find. Some Android skins have obscured the screenshot feature lately, too, making the screenshot instructions even more complicated. On Samsung phones, you have to press the power and volume down exactly for one second. If the press is too short, it won’t work, if it’s too long, I think it will trigger Bixby. A clear screenshot button somewhere might be a good idea.
Another addition to the Latest Applications is the ability to cancel application closures. In the meantime, you can “throw an application” by swiping up, but now if you swipe down quickly after doing that, you can restore the application from death. Throwing an application and bringing it back is also fun to be bothered.
Ignore ongoing notifications?
Ongoing notifications are for applications that do significant work in the background and, at least in the past, this background task has given birth to permanent notifications that last as long as the task occurs. Ongoing notifications exist for two reasons. First, they warn users that something significant is happening in the background, such as Google-turn-by-turn navigation modes, telephone calls, or voice recorders. These tasks keep the phone awake, can use a lot of battery, and can have important privacy implications, letting users know that they are still active – and encouraging them to turn it off when it’s finished – is important. The second reason for ongoing notification is to offer control of these ongoing tasks. For example, if music is playing, it is very useful if the music controls are permanently embedded in the notification panel. It answers “why does my cellphone play music?” question and allow users to easily stop the appropriate application if they need to. Imagine not knowing which applications play music and having to open them one by one. That will fall apart.
In Preview 3, notifications that are currently in progress … can be ignored? Previously, ongoing notifications were permanently on the notifications panel during the job – this is the essence of ongoing notifications – but now you can delete them like a normal e-mail notification. Eliminating notifications altogether seems like a very bad idea, so ignoring ongoing notifications instead goes to the new notification panel section called “Active applications in the background,” which is displayed at the bottom of the notifications panel.
This new “active application in the background” section is clearly not finished, and is currently in a mess of transparent backgrounds, black gradients, application names, and application icons. It’s hard to make too many determinations because this isn’t finished yet, but there is a possibility that Google is trying to make a section to minimize ongoing notifications while still running it. Things like Maps and Music are applications that fit right into the UI paradigm of “ongoing notifications”, but some applications use notifications that are running as a solution to keep them running, and for them, notifications can be annoying. This notice is so easy to forget that the first thing I did was accidentally leaving the voice recorder on for two hours.
With the advent of Doze mode in Android 6.0, Android starts treating every background application as unimportant and acquires the ability to kill any application, basically at any time, to save battery or memory. It works well for most applications, but there is no official way to tell Android, “Hey, this one is very important, and needs to be running at all times, no matter what.” However, if an application brings up an ongoing notification, it will continue to run all the time, and that is the path that many power user applications need to remain open. Applications like Tasker and smart home controllers like Samsung SmartThings should run silently in the background and automatically do things, and the only way to do that on Android is to keep notifications open. This can be a way to let the company do that.
It is also possible that this is a concession related to Google’s crackdown on the accessibility API. The accessibility API is one of the rare ways to run in the background with impunity, and doesn’t bring up notifications. It is very popular to use the accessibility API for things that are not accessible, and basically the “let me run in the background” API. At the end of 2017, Google set new rules for the Play Store application that demanded that they only use the Accessibility API for accessibility features, but after many complaints from electric user applications, Google rejected the ban, saying it wanted to promote “Use of responsible and innovative accessibility services. . ” Providing a non-intrusive way to run applications in the background can be part of it.
It looks like a lot of changes have occurred in the notification panel on Android 11, and currently, the notification panel looks worse than before. I say that it is not really criticism – this is work in progress – but as hope that there will be more change. Right now there are all kinds of unmatched contrast and readability issues, which make me think a more dramatic redesign will come. If we stick with the current design and only add features to it, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for the ugly halfway point we are currently entering.
Permission automatically revoked
Here’s a fun new feature: Android 11 will automatically revoke permissions from apps that you haven’t used for a long time. The new “Automatic revocation permissions” switch appears on each app’s permission screen now. There is even an explanation under the switch that says, “To protect your data, permissions for this application will be deleted if the application is not used for several months.”
This feature is very similar to “App Standby,” which was introduced in Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The Standby app has an OS automatically strip Battery usage rights of the application if time passes without being used. For App Standby, “used” means launching directly, generating notifications, or starting foreground services. Alerted applications will lose network access, scheduled jobs, and background service privileges. This is only when the cellphone uses battery power. After being plugged into a resource, a free-for-all background can start, and applications that are inactive can be revived. Basically, the application is removed from battery usage.
Stripping permission is a broader change, and the good thing is it’s easy to recover from if the user turned on an old application that’s not active. Presumably, they will only get permission pop-ups again, which is no problem. For now, this feature is off by default, only pre-release is expected. After that it works automatically, just like App Standby, will be more in line with the features. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear this check box is just another feature of App Standby.
The first beta (and the rest of Google I / O?) Will be launched next month
That’s it for the main changes to Developer Preview 3. Although COVID-19 destroys almost everyone’s timelines for everything, Google is still committed to the monthly release cycle for Android 11 Preview, and the company reiterates that commitment yesterday by including the usual timeline graph. in his post.
Next month is the first official “beta” release (we currently only have a “developer preview”), which is usually a big problem. In the past, the beta version has brought Android to more phones than just the Google Pixel line. The first beta of Android 10 adds support for mobile phones from Nokia, OnePlus, LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Sony, and more. Next month, May, should also be Google I / O, Google’s biggest show of the year, and as the Android team talks about what they have built throughout the year, and highlights the development of the new Android. Google I / O 2020 has been canceled, even the digital version, so it’s hard to know what will happen next month.
Judging by the release schedule for Android 11, all development work is still happening, and therefore communication about new features and how developers can adapt to them still needs to happen too. Maybe we will get a blog post and YouTube video? Something? I hope something happens.
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