In the "news that will ease your OCD" category, Android "L" finally adds proper support for the battery percentage trick we were first made aware of in Android 4.4. Yes, you still have to download an app from XDA (or use a couple lines of ADB commands) from this post to get it working in the first place, but in the "L" release it no longer periodically disappears or decides not to work in certain situations.


And yes, it is remarkably, incredibly, unfathomably dumb that Google doesn't include this as an option in the settings menu by default. I can only imagine it's some nuanced philosophical argument about building a phone / OS that shouldn't have to show the user the battery % because it increases range anxiety, isn't perfectly accurate, and makes it seem like the battery is something you should always be watching, but that's reality. Android battery life is unpredictable, varies greatly from device to device (even Nexuses, which generally have had poor longevity), and for god's sake, even Apple has a battery percentage display toggle in iOS.

Let's hope this is a sign the feature will become user-facing by the time "L" goes official this fall.

Thanks, Tarun!

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • http://adonisk.com Adonis K.

    Jesus christ, I can't believe we still have to use workaround and apps to get the god damn percentage battery indicator...

    • Gerjannn

      You're not a Christian, are you?

      • http://adonisk.com Adonis K.

        Does it matter?

        • Mayoo

          Well you want your option or not? lulz

          • http://adonisk.com Adonis K.

            Well, one thing is for sure, God won't give it to me.
            But I don't wanna continue this off-topic and useless conversation.

          • Kylecore

            Google is God, so you seem to be correct

          • Marla William


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    • https://google.com/+LateefAlabiOki Lateef Alabi-Oki

      The reason they don't put this stuff by default is that it drains battery life. They discussed this on an Android dev podcast a long time ago. That's also the reason they removed the indicators from the wifi icons on the status bar too. The devs have profiled the hell out of the launcher.

      • Matt Alexander

        This would not drain battery life. That's not the reason they gave at all. They said showing an exact percentage causes anxiety.

        • Walkop

          No. Lateef is right; its the same reason they removed the orange indicator for loss of internet connection from the status bar. Having any items that need to be constantly refreshed uses up CPU cycles, albeit a relatively tiny amount.

          Based on my understanding, anyway.

          • Matt Alexander

            The battery is already polled regularly. It uses a negligible amount of battery.

          • https://google.com/+LateefAlabiOki Lateef Alabi-Oki

            They use an image hack to minimize the battery redraws. Again, all this was in the Android dev podcast. They clearly said it was to eliminate unnecessary screen redraws and polling which affects battery life. I'll look for the podcast if I can find it..

          • Luis

            Of course it does draw some battery, but much less than making the microphone on at all times, scanning for an OK Google that most people don't use, though that thing is still there. So, no... This is ridiculous, to say the least.

          • https://google.com/+LateefAlabiOki Lateef Alabi-Oki

            That's not on by default on SoCs that don't have coprocessor.

          • Luis

            The coprocessor may draw less battery power, but it does anyway. The mic also draws power, so make it two features. The screen has nothing to do with battery polling, as it has to be on for other uses as well.

          • https://google.com/+LateefAlabiOki Lateef Alabi-Oki


            Around 36 mins in the podcast, an Android System UI engineer describes why they avoid putting any status updates/animations in the status bar. They also talk about the optimizations they did to the battery icons to eliminate performance issues.

            Again, their testing indicated it degraded performance because of redraws hitting the GPU which also affected battery life.

          • Luis

            There is always an explanation for everything. But the world is divided by those that are convincing and those that are not.
            That is not convincing for me and lots of people, even if it is true... Anyway, to call it a "design choice" would be more humble and true.

          • https://google.com/+LateefAlabiOki Lateef Alabi-Oki

            It's not a matter of convincing, it's factual. What he's saying is true. It's no news that redraws on Android impacts performance. Look at all the Android dev docs, they all tell you not to redraw unnecessarily.

            It's okay if you don't care about performance, but to claim the Android engineer who works on the UI is somehow making excuses is a bit far-fetched.

          • Luis

            Google's engineers might be god for your IQ, but not for mine.
            Good luck. Bye

          • Churchill

            u so smart

          • Paul M

            I could agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong

          • RarestName

            This also isn't on by default. I don't get what you're trying to say.

  • Mayoo

    "even Apple has a % display toggle in iOS"

    Exactly. I don't think Google wants another lawsuit from our favorite fruit to hate ;)

    • http://adonisk.com Adonis K.

      iOS didn't invent the idea of percentage battery indicators...
      Not to mention how many stuff iOS copied from Android lately.

      • Mayoo

        You are 100% right. But you still have to fight and spend money proving Apple are patent trolls. Also, it's sad to say this, but in the general population, Apple is given an "untouchable" status. People, and judges, won't admit it, but they always think Apple did everything first. Because it's innovation you know ...

  • Tarun Pemmaraju

    Made a post already? ;)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      And I didn't even thank you, let's rectify that.

      • Tarun Pemmaraju

        Haha, no problem!

  • duse

    Does it no longer show battery % in quick settings? I haven't seen it in the few screenshots. If not, that sucks. I like not seeing it all the time but being able to easily with one swipe from anywhere.

  • kashtrey

    I like having battery percentage but in actual usage it's not much more useful than having an abstract picture. The percentage isn't actionable because drain isn't really linear. All you can really do is say "oh, the battery is getting low" or "oh, i'm at 24%" and then think to yourself maybe you need to cut down on use or make it to the charger. You can't really get anything useful out of the percentage, like how long you have left.

    • http://www.gundamaustralia.com/ cameron charles

      i think thats true for new phones, once youve used the phone for a while you generally know how much percentage its going to burn doing x activity for y time, thats when it becomes superhelpful

  • Quad

    In their defense battery percentage would mean constantly redrawing notification bar and in return using more battery. Though you get notifications all the also redraws the bar which renders this point not as strong.

    • NiQ3

      You forgot about the clock :P

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

      Considering all custom ROMs nowadays have this option and perform just fine, I don't know how much of a concern it really is. Plus the redraw should only happen when the percentage updates. I don't see it affecting battery life one bit.

      • Bluewall

        And the status bar already redraw all the time for the signal and clock so...

    • Tarun Pemmaraju

      That was their excuse for the data arrows, wasn't it?

      • Kurt Schultz

        Yes it was. I wonder what the sprint spark or 4g icon does to the battery since that thing constantly spins.

      • http://www.gundamaustralia.com/ cameron charles

        there difference there is, with the data arrows it was updating at a crazy rate so that it was "accurately" reflecting the data movement at all times, a battery percentage would only need to redraw when the percentage changed, there would be many other things causing a redraw faster then that anyway

  • Niveus

    I prefer battery percentage as XX% for better reading instead of showing it in the icon itself

    • wicketr

      I like the way CyanogenMod does it. It's ring around a number. The ring slowly disappears as the battery decreases, and the number in the center is easily visible.

  • Runirur

    Be careful, light flow put my Android L in a reboot loop. Can be fixed by uninstalling it as fast as you can after boot.

    • Brayden Reesor

      Yeah I had to remove it as well, sadly.

  • 16Bitz0r

    OMG.. Now this makes me even sadder to be a N4 owner. ;(

  • Andy Rose

    I don't remember seeing it in previous versions but the lock screen (and battery settings) will show an estimate on how long it will take until a full charge. Even distinguished from wireless and wired.

  • Ambroos

    I really like how Sony handles it (battery percentage and split signal/data).

    • Steve Freeman

      Actually, that does look really nice. A lot better than the text inside the battery icon like on stock Android L...I've tried using a similar method on ROM's before, and with how the line of current battery charge moves around, it makes it difficult to see the percentage text sometimes (most of the time). I've just been using an Xposed module to hide the icon completely, and only show the percentage text, but the Sony implementation would be really nice to try.

  • OCD

    This "new" did not ease my OCD. At all.

    It made it worse.

    • Crispin Swickard

      At least it looks centered now unlike when this workaround was done on previous version.. :)

  • Alec

    No, the reason it isn't in by default is because the percentage is just a guess. It's very inaccurate.

  • https://plus.google.com/+SamanthaGobert/ Samantha Gobert

    Those icons are different than the ones demonstrated during the keynote anyway

  • Sean

    The battery percentage is important because the icon is, what, 3 millimeters tall? I'd rather have a "sometimes not totally 100% accurate" reading than having to rely on my eyes to discern the visually minuscule difference between 30% and 50%.

    • Steve Freeman

      I would rather just have a % text indicator, like I do now thanks to Xposed. This isn't going to be useful to more than a handful of people, ESPECIALLY since it's another hidden feature.

  • Julio M

    Let's all calm down, this is a preview so it may be added, that is why it's a preview release. Use the right channel to show your support and express your demands.

  • ame

    They should put the battery percentage in the status bar with an option to show/hide it. Google also needs to put a battery toggle in the quick settings

  • http://www.thejunglephoto.pw Thejungle

    Another usfeul option that is NEEDED instead of search icon in settings menu. Meh..

  • xdapao3

    I don't know what battery anxiety is.....
    ALL of my smartphones from my very first one (the Sony Ericsson P800, *FIVE YEARS* before Apple and Jobs invented smartphones ROTFLMAO!!!!!) have had removable batteries and separate battery chargers. I have never charged my smartphones (aside from when they are docked in the car), just the batteries...
    Battery anxiety is for morons who buy useless toys with integrated batteries.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Finally! Jeez, they really took their time implementing this...