An­droid O team hold Red­dit AMA ses­sion

Google’s en­gi­neer­ing team an­swered An­droid fans ques­tions at the firm’s an­nual Red­dit AMA, writes MICHAEL SI­MON

Android Advisor - - Contents -

1. Dark mode isn’t com­ing, so stop ask­ing

Google teased us with dark mode on both the An­droid N and O de­vel­oper pre­views, but it’s not mak­ing it into the full re­lease any­time soon. The rea­son? “Re­li­able and con­sis­tent them­ing is hard.”

Nu­mer­ous ques­tions about themes and dark mode stacked up on the Red­dit board, and An­droid en­gi­neer Alan Viverette ad­dressed it thusly: “There are tech­ni­cal and lo­gis­ti­cal is­sues with them­ing. The tech­ni­cal side is largely solved in O with Run­time Re­source Over­lay

sup­port (a Sony frame­work that al­lows the sys­tem to mod­ify the look and feel of an app while it is run­ning); how­ever, we still don’t have sta­ble APIs for de­scrib­ing what can be themed or ad­e­quate ways to ver­ify that ex­ist­ing ap­pli­ca­tions prop­erly sup­port them­ing.”

In­stead Viverette thinks it’s more of a per-app is­sue: “We have seen many apps adopt stand­alone dark mode, which I think is a clear mes­sage that users want this fea­ture and de­vel­op­ers are will­ing to put in the ef­fort to sup­port it.”

2. Desk­top mode might be com­ing... some­day

Sam­sung’s DeX dock for the Galaxy S8 has us all dream­ing of a desk­top ver­sion of An­droid. It’s not go­ing to ar­rive in An­droid O, but there’s hope. Dianne Hack­born’s re­sponse to a ques­tion about ‘lap­top mode’ for An­droid left the door open: “We don’t have any plans to an­nounce at this point. Win­dow man­age­ment im­prove­ments is an ar­eas we are still very in­ter­ested in and will con­tinue to work on in the fu­ture.”

3. Lock-screen quick replies are gone for good

Early on in the An­droid N beta, Google al­lowed su­per-quick lock screen replies that let you re­spond to mes­sages with­out en­ter­ing a PIN or pass­code. That fea­ture was re­moved be­fore the gen­eral re­lease and now we know why: se­cu­rity.

And that means it’s not com­ing back. Se­lim Cinek writes: “Di­rect re­ply on the lock screen is still pre­sent

in An­droid O. For se­cu­rity rea­sons, we are re­quest­ing the user to en­ter their pass­word when do­ing so. We tried to find a bal­ance be­tween se­cu­rity and us­abil­ity, since a lot of users are not aware of the se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions when un­con­di­tion­ally al­low­ing a user to re­ply from the lock screen.”

4. No blobs equals bet­ter emoji

Google is killing off the blob emoji in An­droid O. While it held some­thing of a fu­neral for them dur­ing July’s World Emoji Day, we never learned why the squishy gum­drops were be­ing re­tired. Now we know (and it’s not be­cause of their looks).

Ap­par­ently, the blob was hold­ing back the ex­pan­sion of An­droid emoji: “Over the last few years Uni­code has ex­panded the range of emoji

con­sid­er­ably and cre­ated new cat­e­gories of emoji,” Google ex­plained. “In par­al­lel new mes­sag­ing use cases have emerged (i.e. larger emoji used as stick­ers). The cur­rent de­sign sys­tem did not lend it­self well to sup­port­ing the ex­pand­ing emoji set and these new use cases, so we needed a sig­nif­i­cant vis­ual re­fresh.” With this change, new emoji should ar­rive more quickly.

5. Blue­tooth au­dio will be much im­proved

Pixel users have ex­pe­ri­enced more than a few is­sues with Blue­tooth au­dio un­der An­droid N. While the im­prove­ments have yet to hit the An­droid O beta, rest as­sured, An­droid O’s engi­neers have been work­ing to rec­tify them. As Tim Mur­ray ex­plains, “We could see cases where ran­dom sched­uler de­lay would cause BT au­dio ar­ti­facts, so we tried work­ing our way through the en­tire BT pipe­line to fig­ure out ex­actly what guar­an­tees were needed where to en­sure that au­dio qual­ity was per­fect.”

What that means to all of us: Blue­tooth au­dio will be much im­proved in An­droid O. “Our test­ing shows that BT au­dio re­li­a­bil­ity is dras­ti­cally bet­ter ver­sus N be­cause of these changes,” Mur­ray says. “We’re happy with how it’s turned out, and we hope you see the same kind of im­prove­ments.”

6. Wide colour gamut won’t be avail­able on cur­rent Pixel

Among the many fea­tures in An­droid O is sup­port for colour pro­files, let­ting you cus­tom­ize your dis­play with AdobeRGB, Pro Photo RGB, and DCI-P3 stan­dards usu­ally re­served for pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phers and

• 64/128GB stor­age, mi­croSD sup­port up to 128GB or dual-SIM dual-standby func­tion­al­ity • Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi • Blue­tooth 4.2 • GPS, GLONASS • NFC • IR port • USB-C • 12Mp Sony IMX386, f/2.2 rear cam­era • 5Mp f/2.0 selfie cam­era • Rear fin­ger­print scan­ner • 3.5mm head­phone jack • Stereo speak­ers • 5,300mAh bat­tery with Quick Charge 3.0 • 174.1x88.7x7.6mm • 211g

Google’s long-stand­ing blob emoji (top) will be re­placed by more car­toon­ish ones in An­droid O (bot­tom)

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