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feature spotlights


Android Q beefs up privacy with new limits on location access, device IDs, and more

Google has tightened Android security over the years, but there are still some loopholes that need closed. In Android Q, Google has addressed several nagging issues. The changes are geared toward giving users more control and transparency, and that will mean developers might have to rethink how they do things.

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Android P developer preview includes a list of received files in connection settings [Update: It's just in a new place]

Direct Bluetooth file transfers have been available on Android since time immemorial, but Android P adds a long-overdue related feature. You can finally see a list of all transferred files. The menu is nestled in the connection settings—it's actually been there for a while, and no one noticed.

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Android P DP4 introduces new rotation toggle icon, gives it more prominent placement in gesture nav

The original Android P developer preview added a neat rotation toggle that let you lock the screen into portrait or landscape when auto-rotate was disabled. Google has played around with how to present this feature, and the new dev preview makes the biggest change yet. The button has been completely redesigned, and it shows up in a different location (sometimes).

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Android P feature spotlight: Android will offer to hide notifications from apps you frequently dismiss

Google has slowly expanded control over notifications in the last few major updates, culminating with notification channels in Android 8.0. In Android P, Google is testing a system to suggest blocking notifications from certain apps. Which apps? Any app whose notifications you frequently dismiss.

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Android P feature spotlight: New autofill APIs improve compatibility with password managers (Updated)

With the release of Android Oreo, Google included an autofill API to allow for system-wide filling in of details such as account and credit card info. The framework manages communication between Google's autofill service and other apps, and it's great for both saving time and avoiding errors.

The first developer preview of Android P has just arrived and it brings a number of new APIs to the autofill framework, as well as some bugfixes. Specifically, there will be improvements to dataset filteringinput sanitization, and compatibility mode.

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Android P feature spotlight: Mark WiFi as metered from the network details screen

Android is designed to be gentle with your mobile data, but all bets are off when you get on WiFi. Your phone will likely save large downloads until the instant you reconnect to WiFi, but not all networks should be treated the same. Some WiFi hotspots are metered, and Android P makes it quicker and easier to tell the device when that is the case.

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Android P feature spotlight: You can now easily track which apps recently sent notifications

You probably get a lot of notifications on your phone. So many, in fact, it's easy to forget which apps were in that batch you just dismissed. Android P includes a handy menu that tracks recent notifications so you can disallow an app that's been pestering you in just a few taps.

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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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