10
Oct
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Several days ago, I started a series of rumor posts on my personal Google+ account discussing some Android rumors I felt were interesting enough to share, but didn't feel confident enough yet to do so here on the site. The posts were heavily prefixed with disclaimers that none of them may turn out to be true but that I had a certain level of confidence to talk about them in public unofficially.

Today, I'd like to present rumor #7, which is going straight to Android Police because of the high confidence level.

Disclaimer: No matter the confidence level, there's always a chance product updates, features, and some or all details will be changed or cancelled altogether. As with all rumors, nothing is 100% until it's officially announced.

We do not have possession of any APKs or unreleased devices, so please don't ask for them.

Confidence level

Based on everything I've seen so far, I'm assigning this rumor a score of 8 out of 10. I'm docking two points because the features and the UI could change, but that's impossible to say until KitKat is out.

Update 10/11/13: With this independent confirmation from TuttoAndroid that matches this rumor perfectly, I'm upgrading the confidence level to a 9.

The rumor

Location settings

The Location access screen in Android 4.3 is getting revamped and is now called simply Location.

The Location on/off toggle has moved up from the area that used to be called Access to my location to the top right corner, which makes a whole lot more sense to me.

The two Location sources checkboxes which used to be GPS Satellites and Wi-Fi & mobile network location are gone and are now replaced by an entirely separate screen called Location mode. There are 3 location modes:

  1. High accuracy (GPS, Wi-Fi, and mobile network).
  2. Battery saving (Wi-Fi and mobile networks).
  3. Device sensors only (GPS).

As you can see, there really isn't any new functionality here because all the permutations of options that we had before are still achievable. However, the new layout makes more sense logically because it removes the duplication between tapping Off in Location access and unchecking both boxes, which both led to the same result. Now, there's only one way to turn off all location access and 3 accuracy levels when it's on. And I kind of like it like that.

The new simplified options are also inline with the simple Fused Location Provider API components announced at I/O 2013, which means developers using them will have parity between the APIs and the user-facing options. Things are starting to make sense now, right?

wm_10-10-2013 2-33-56 PM

Recent location requests

Last but not least, we should be getting a feature I've been dying to see in Android for as long as I can remember: a history of recent location requests.

The picture below on the right in the first row illustrates the reason perfectly and happens all the time - some app or process running in the background randomly tries to acquire a GPS lock and starts draining the battery. The worst part about this is I have no idea what app is responsible for requesting it. I'm not running Maps, so why is the GPS locked on and stays locked on for a while at times? Without a history of location requests, I feel quite powerless. This is where the new location request history comes in.

As you can see in the screenshot on the left, the two entries are OS components rather than apps, which is nice but isn't really super helpful. This could have happened for several reasons - no apps have been started since the phone booted, the feature isn't entirely ready for prime time in this build, or all the apps that requested location have done so using the Fused Location Provider API and are therefore not displayed, since they're essentially getting locally cached location coordinates without activating any sensors.

Whatever the reasons may be, I'm hoping that by the time the recent location requests feature is complete, the screen is as useful as possible in debugging GPS-related battery drain issues.

Evidence

We were sent several screenshots that support the above rumor and show the new Location screens. I'm including the old UI from a Nexus 4 as well as a Note 3, both running Android 4.3, for comparison and demonstration purposes.

Once again, I'd like to reiterate that anything could change between test builds and the final product, so this should be considered only a rumor, though one I feel pretty confident about.

wm_kitkat_location2 wm_Screenshot_2013-10-08-09-23-52

Left: Android 4.4; right: Android 4.3

wm_kitkat_location1 wm_Screenshot_2013-10-10-13-28-41

Left: Android 4.4; right: Android 4.3

Release timeline

I'm expecting the updated Location settings and the history of location requests to be available in Android 4.4 KitKat upon its release.

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Jeff718

    Not sure if this was new with the recent apk, but in Maps under settings, there is a setting call Maps History. It's showing places that I searched recently. But like I said, it might be old (new to me when I saw it yesterday). It's like a list of recent location requests, right?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      That's not new and is most definitely unrelated to anything above.

      • Jeff718

        I see, the one I'm looking at are my location/place *searches* in maps. Cheers.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          Precisely.

  • http://www.ronakg.com/ Ronak Gandhi

    Still dark colors for Settings :(

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      True. This could change before the release, but I wouldn't bet on it.

      • dtraini30

        An option to change apps from holo light to holo dark and the other way around would be awesome.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          I definitely wouldn't bet on that :-] That's even less likely.

          • dtraini30

            Shit haha

      • Razormike

        That's a shame I was really hoping for a full Holo light re-skin. I hope the interface doesn't end up looking inconsistent. In the screenshot above the separator and buttons are Holo blue, but the status bar icons are white. I personally hope they will change everything to the new white.

      • Nimer55

        Do you have any information about why that is?

        Because most apps, including the downloads app you posted (either here or on Google plus, I forget) are getting a holo light theme, but settings still looks the same as ever.

        Is it simple a "not ready for this version of Android?" Or is it a "Settings page looks nicer dark" type thing?

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          I wish I knew, but I don't. Yet. It's too early to say because the OS isn't finished. Which is another reason I'm not buying the October 15 and 24 "rumors."

          • Gnex

            Plot twist: Google is feeding you old pictures so that the actual announcement is more of a surprise.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Plot twist: we're in a matrix.

          • Gnex

            ...

        • http://wishu-blog.net/ Marco (Wishu) Kaiser

          I think it is because of the simple fact, that an app is much easier to update, than the system. So they edit the apps first and then the system.
          I hope so, I hate dark UIs

    • nebula

      But the ugly gradient is gone, isn't it? Or is it just hard to see, 'cause it's all little blurry?

      • akshay7394

        That gradient was the WORST. Literally the first thing i look to fix on any phone i have to use. Ugly as hell

    • TY

      I like it though. Better be an option.

  • TY

    The new layout is definitely much more easier to understand.
    I used to turn off the whole location service, but after seeing this I might turn on battery saving mode.

  • Grimmjow

    I want Google to access my location but not Facebook. Give me that control.

    • http://www.ronakg.com/ Ronak Gandhi

      Doesn't 4.3 have this? You can control permissions per app, no?

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Yeah, AppOps does this, but isn't really enabled for users unless you fire up the hidden menu. Hopefully, Google will release it in 4.4 but I have no rumors to share about that.

        • Sergio

          Indeed with AppOps you can easily know which application is using/just used the GPS.

      • Thomas’

        Yeah, and Facebook is indeed one of two apps which got their location permission revoked by me.

    • Sergio

      Also you can install Xposed Framework and XPrivacy or App Settings modules for a more specific control.

  • Ryuuie

    So...this'll fix the nlpwakelock and nlpcollectorwakelock bugs that are murdering the batteries of my Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 (2013), right?

    ...RIGHT, GOOGLE?! >:/

    • yahyoh

      not only on Nexus's devices i got it on my Note2 and i had to disable location history + location reporting in Google setting :/

      • wilflare

        I had to disable them too which make Google Now effectively useless/pointless

    • Scott

      I'm getting PowerManagerService draining my Razr HD Maxx on CM 10.1.3. It's under Android System in the battery stats though. Only temp fix is to reboot.

      • Ryuuie

        The only ways to fix the nlpwakelock and nlopcollectorwakelock bugs is to either reboot constantly (it continuously comes back) or turn Wifi & mobile network location off in Settings. This breaks Google Now, Maps, and anything that asks for location by making it go extremely slow or just not work at all.

    • samwist23

      I have the same issue with my S3 running stock 4.1.2.

  • Tony

    Definitely a nice attention to detail improving this, what I wanna know is when are they getting Samsung like multitasking as stock. Any rumors on that coming up?

    • Sahil Chaturvedi

      Nah, the probably won't.

  • Owen Finn

    Damn it - I want the option to use GPS and mobile networks only!

  • guest

    i still see 33b5e5...
    what's with those half leaks, hiding the navbar.
    This make sense only if it's google behind them.
    Or AP saving them for later?

  • nebula

    I think I've never seen radio boxes in android before.

    • kay

      Go to your APN settings - they are there.

      • nebula

        Oh you're right. But they aren't used very often then.

  • EH101

    I hope these updates come with a fix to the battery drain a lot of us see with Google Services and "Wi-Fi and mobile networks" (if you see Google Services as the first or second listing in battery stats, turn off Wi-Fi and mobile networks and it will go away.)

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    apparently a box with a check was too complicated to understand. Very minor, but i like the check marks. I'm very interested in seeing how much battery this saves in navigation apps, if any. I see it reads navigation apps can request the location more often and I can see that going downhill. High Hopes for the former.

    • akshay7394

      It's not about being too complicated to understand; it's just that the new implementation would make more sense.

  • hot_spare

    Bored of such stuff. Least bothered about such tiny changes. Even Samsung/HTC does more with their skin than Google does. A tick here, a menu there and a small colour change somewhere. This plain UI looks so boring now. Do something to make it look remotely interesting. I still can't find any significant changes (user side) after 4.1. I can't find why a 'normal' user would be bothered about installing 4.3. Looks, feels and acts exactly same as 4.1/4.2. Everything just look same since last few upgrades.

    //change

    • Leif Sikorski

      The 4.x UI isn't that old and we finally reached a point where many appsdevelopers upgraded their apps to fit this style. A complete change of the current UI would be way to early and isn't really necessary .

    • Daeshaun Griffiths

      Would you like a link to action launcher?
      This Ui is staying for another couple years. Please don't expect anything huge, theres only so much they can do. They change little things because Android has kind of plateaued. All they are doing now is making it feature packed, consistent, smooth, and adding usability with web connected appliances. What could they possibly do for a radical change but still keep its' roots? I only think of getting rid of the navigation bar making it another OS.
      I'm asking you, what would you like to see? And if you really want change, have you considered switching to an upcoming OS like Sailfish?

    • Sahil Chaturvedi

      You don't need a major UI change every version. Stock android is already amazing as it is. If you want fancy features and crazy colors, go use Touchwiz or LG's UI.

    • akshay7394

      a 'normal' user, as you say, probably wouldn't give a damn either way. If an update shows up, they'll update it. That's that.

      It's only the not-so 'normal' users like you that even notice that the differences are non-existent, since 'normal' users wouldn't be reading every AP article to see what possible differences might be, they'd just update to find out. They're not going to go all, "oh look, almost nothing changed. Let's go back to 4.2."

  • Leif Sikorski

    My biggest problem are the Google Play Services in the battery stats. Since many apps use the play services for many APIs the apps itself are no longer listed in the stats.

  • Nexus452013

    So more likely the UI stays dark holo, or changes to the holo light we saw in the downloads app leak? Could it be that they just changed the downloads app UI and not the whole system? Seems like a poor decision

    • Sahil Chaturvedi

      Yeah.. Weird. I hope we get surprised!

  • roberto.elena

    What I really want is a way of giving location access on individual apps. Let's say I want to give an app access to my location but NEVER to the high accuracy option. Right now I can't do it because there will be always other apps (like maps) that I will want to give access to the high accuracy option, so if an app that only needs the battery saving option (in my opinion) makes location requests with the high accuracy option my battery is unnecessarily fucked :(

  • mcored

    I don't see how having Wifi on, is battery saving. If anything, the last mode should be "Battery saving".

    • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

      Being on WiFi makes your battery last a hell of a lot longer than being on cell data. You can take that to the bank.

      • mcored

        Agree. However, then it should have been:
        Battery saving: Wifi and GPS
        Shouldn't it?

        • Matt

          Nope. Cellular data uses triangulation with cell towers to determine your location to a rough area (I think a mile or so) and saves a lot of battery compared to locating you with GPS, which is really battery-hungry. I think you're confusing using cellular data and using mobile networks for location. Here, watch the 38 minute long location services talk from Google I/O if you're curious.

          https://developers.google.com/events/io/sessions/325337477

  • Ashish

    The location mode shouldn't even be a UI choice. The OS should handle the most efficient location context. The only choice should be at app level, which apps can get precise location, which can get coarse, and which one's can't get location at all. Lastly, if one was to select "Battery saving" in location mode will GPS still work in maps?

  • edswa

    I wish if this was similar to to Apple's way

    I do not want to have to toggle gps on and off every time I want to use it

    I wanna have it enabled for specific apps. When the app needs it, it turns on automatically. When it is done, it turns off automatically.

    • Dennis Ulijn

      Which would automatically mean that no app can use GPS in the background. No, the new implementation is good, as long as AppOps is enabled and you can specify that certain apps can't access location (Facebook) or can't access location in the background.

      • akshay7394

        Uh, no?
        The way edswa explained does not, in any way, prevent GPS from working in the background. I just stops most apps (but the ones you want to allow) from using GPS.

        • Dennis Ulijn

          So, basically AppOps...

          • akshay7394

            Sort of, except he means the reverse. Basically that instead of going into each app's settings within AppOps and switching off location access, keeping them all off by default and switching ON only the ones you want. It's far less work

            Also AppOps technically isn't officially out yet. It's a hidden menu, which most common users won't ever know about.

  • itpromike

    This is what I want... I want to manage these things at a system level, not go in and out of each app fiddling with permissions one by one. I swear Android is the one I thought would be getting this right, not iOS. *sigh*

  • itpromike

    Heck, give me this too while you're at it.

    • runderekrun

      App ops does this

  • wilflare

    I really hope it does not cause so many wakelocks

  • HoloYodler

    Can you guys please stop putting TouchWiz screenshots in your previews and reviews? That UI design is obnoxious.

    • Enes TaƟdemir

      Can you not comment on here? Because I don't like you.

    • Sahil Chaturvedi

      Agreed!

    • YoloSwaggyHolo123

      Yep! That's not even #HOLOYOLO.

  • anywherehome

    location according to networks eats so much battery power......disable that and you get 25 % battery a day...

  • tlingitsoldier

    In my experience, the biggest battery consumers are having Google Location Services turned on, and leaving Wi-Fi on. I know, lots of people say that cell signal uses more power, but I've done my own testing that absolutely says otherwise. Leaving Wi-Fi on would make my battery drain before the end of the day. Turning it off and using it in a nearly identical pattern left me with 50% by 10 pm (having unplugged it around 7 am. This is on a Verizon Note 2, and setting it for CDMA/LTE only.

    I've also done my experimenting with Google Location Services, because of the massive number of wakelocks it causes. My battery drain went from being a sharp drop on the graph, to a nice steady line across the day. This was true on both my Note 2 and my old VZW Galaxy Nexus.

    In all of these experiments, not once did GPS play a factor, unless I specifically had Maps open and/or actively navigating. So I question the labeling on here, since GPS doesn't get used very often compared to Location Services. The only time I've seen things really eat the battery worse, is when I used only GPS, and Maps & Google Now had to suffer without their own location data.

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