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Articles Tagged:

feature spotlights

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Covering the proximity sensor no longer turns off Ambient Display

The latest Android developer preview is filled with lots of incremental changes, many of which are thoughtful and useful. It wouldn’t be possible for Google to get everything right in a beta release, though, and this alteration seems to be more of a backward step.

Previously in Oreo, if you’d set Ambient Display to wake with a notification or with a double tap, it would shut off if the proximity sensor was covered. This was useful for conserving battery as it would turn the screen off as soon as you put it in a pocket or a bag. It was also good if you’d already seen whatever it was notifying you about, as you could simply wave your hand over the sensor to sleep the screen.

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Android 8.1 feature spotlight: Mobile data quick setting toggle asks if you really want to turn if off

Over the course of the last few Android versions, Google has seemingly struggled to decide on exactly how some of the quick settings options should work. Some are simple toggles, some bring up extra details in the quick settings pane, and some take you through to the settings app. Several of them also have different behavior depending on whether you short or long-press them.

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[Update: O DP2 broke notification channels] Android O feature spotlight: Android tells you if an app is displaying a screen overlay

Being able to run apps that draw on top of other apps is a powerful feature of Android. Apps like Twilight take advantage of that to add a filter to the display, but other apps just show a floating UI element. However, this can also be a security concern. Android O offers a handy alert when an app is showing an overlay with a link to turn it off.

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Android O feature spotlight: You can automatically enable WiFi near trusted networks, and it now works in DP2

The Android beta program gives us a chance to see the latest features of Android, some of which don't actually work yet. That was the case when the first developer preview came out with an option to automatically switch WiFi on when you get near a trusted network. The toggle was non-functional in the first dev preview, but it works in DP2.

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Android O feature spotlight: Get quick access to an app's widgets by long-pressing the icon

Google began introducing long-press actions for icons in Android 7.1—currently, a long-press in Pixel Launcher can display app shortcuts (previously known as launcher shortcuts). You get more in Android O DP2. We already knew about the previously reported notification dots, but there are also widget links.

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Android O feature spotlight: Apps can no longer draw on top of system UI

Android has long allowed developers to draw on top of other apps and the system UI. This is how Twilight adjusts the color of the display, and there are other apps that overlay things on your status bar. A change to the way Android O handles overlays could break features of these apps, rendering some of them essentially useless.

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Android O feature spotlight: Android System is already using notification channels

There are some cool things you can play around with in the Android O preview, but some of the most useful features won't be available until developers start implementing them. For instance, the new notification channel feature. As it turns out, Google has already implemented notification channels in the Android System. That means you can get a feel for how it'll work.

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Android O feature spotlight: The time picker now has a manual text entry mode

One small change you will notice in Android O is the ability to manually type the date and time when selecting a time. When, several versions of Android ago, Google changed the date and time picker from text-based to a monthly calendar and rolling clock, things did indeed look better and more interactive. However, that made precise minute selection more tedious and annoyed people who prefer text entry to fancy graphics and animations.

In Android O, the time picker (in Calendar, Clock, etc) gets one small added icon at the bottom left: a keyboard. Tapping it switches to text-based entry where you can manually type in the exact time.

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Android O feature spotlight: Expandable quick settings only work when tapping the text, not the icon

In Android 7.0, there are a number of expandable quick settings for things like WiFi and Bluetooth. Those toggles still exist in Android O, but the way you interact with them is quite different. Expanding requires you to tap the text instead of the icon.

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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: The new system update check denies you cathartic button mashing

We've all done it—a big OTA is rolling out and you want it right this minute. So, you open the OTA update checker in settings and mash the button a few times in an effort to will the update into existence on your phone. It never works, and as of Android 7.1, you can't even go through this pointless ritual anymore. There's a timeout between checks and no button.

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