Wednesday , July 8 2020

Android 11 Preview 3 to touch – Strange changes to recent apps and notifications

There is a new Android 11 Developer Preview. This is Preview 3 and was launched yesterday by Google for the Pixel Line. Earlier Android 11 previews didn’t have many new additions, but this version has many weird and interesting UI changes that we can discuss and puzzle about.

The last apps lose the app drawer

In Android 9 Pie, the Recent Apps screen became a horizontally scrolling list of thumbnails with an expandable app drawer at the bottom. In the Android 11 Preview 3 version, the app drawer is gone. It has been replaced by a rather weak selection of two buttons: “Screenshot” and “Share”.

Removing the app drawer from recent apps is a pretty interesting decision considering that two years ago the last apps were re-searched to support this access to the app drawer. The app drawer and the app icons are all part of the home screen. To ensure that the function works in the most recently used apps, the most recently used apps were pulled out of the core surface of the system and included in the start code. This saved Google from having to create a special API with which another app could access the app drawer – everything was only bundled in the launcher app.

The disadvantage of inserting the latest apps into the launcher is that third-party launcher was unable to access the new “App drawer in recent apps” function. If you’ve installed a third-party launcher, the “Recently used apps” app drawer simply disappears, giving you a bare screen that only shows thumbnails. This change means different things for different people. If you’ve used the standard launcher that came with your phone, the app drawer will no longer appear. If you’ve used a third-party launcher, two new buttons appear in a previously blank area on the Recent Apps screen.

The two additional buttons “Screenshot” and “Share” do not look like final parts of the user interface in terms of design or functionality. First, they do the same. “Screenshot” saves the app thumbnail in your screenshot folder, while “Share” releases the thumbnail screenshot for the app of your choice. Usually you just take a screenshot and then press the Share button so that the two buttons next to each other appear redundant. The Share button appears to be broken at the moment. It doesn’t work with some apps and shares the screenshot with others along with some junk data. For example, in Gmail, the app’s package name is automatically added to the “to” field as if it were a valid email address.

I get a “screenshot” button somewhere in the user interface that is obvious and easy to find. When you perform remote technical support on someone else’s phone, it can be difficult to get less technical users to successfully take a screenshot using a secret key combination (Power + Volume Down). At some point, Google added a screenshot button to the Power menu, but that’s another secret button – long-pressing the Power – that users may not find. Some Android skins have also recently disguised the screenshot function, which makes these screenshot instructions even more complicated. For Samsung phones, you need to decrease the power and volume for exactly one second. If the press is too short, it won’t work. If it is too long, it will likely trigger Bixby. An obvious screenshot button somewhere is probably a good idea.

Another addition to “Current Apps” is the option to undo the closing of an app. For a while you were able to “throw away” an app with a swipe up, but now if you swipe down quickly afterwards, you can bring the app back from death. Throwing away an app and bringing it back is also fun.

Decline ongoing notifications?

Ongoing notifications apply to apps that do significant work in the background. At least in the past, these background tasks have triggered a permanent notification that persists as long as the task is running. The ongoing notifications are for two reasons. First, they point out to the user that something important is happening in the background, e.g. B. the turn-by-turn navigation mode of Google Maps, a phone call or a dictation machine. These tasks keep the phone awake, can consume a lot of battery and have important data protection implications. It is therefore important to inform the user that they are still on and to encourage them to turn them off when they are done. The second reason for ongoing notification is to offer controls for these ongoing tasks. For example, when playing music, it is convenient to permanently pin the music controls to the notification panel. It replies to “Why is my phone playing music?” Ask and allow users to easily stop the app when they need to. Imagine you don’t know which app is playing music and have to open it individually. It would be a mess.

In preview 3, ongoing notifications … can now be rejected? In the past, running notifications were permanently in the notification panel as long as the task was running – that’s the whole point of a running notification – but now you can wipe them away like a normal email notification. The complete disappearance of the notification seems like a really bad idea. Therefore, rejected ongoing notifications will instead appear in a new section of the notification panel called “Apps running in the background” that appears at the bottom of the notification panel.

This new section “Apps active in the background” is clearly not yet finished and currently consists of a garbled mess of transparent backgrounds, a black gradient, the name of the app and an app icon. It is difficult to make too many statements as this is not yet complete. However, it is possible that Google will try to create a section to minimize ongoing notifications while they continue to run. Things like maps and music are apps that fit the UI paradigm of “always-on notifications”. However, some apps use ongoing notifications as a workaround to continue running. For them, the notification can be annoying. These notifications are so easy to forget that I accidentally left the dictation machine on for two hours.

With the advent of Doze mode in Android 6.0, Android started treating every background app as unimportant, and had the ability to kill any app, basically at any time, to save battery or memory. This works fine for most apps, but there is no official way to tell Android: “Hey, this one app is super important and needs to run all the time, no matter what.” However, if an app generates a continuous notification, it can run continuously. This is the path many power user apps take to stay open. Apps like Tasker and Smart Home Controllers like SmartThings from Samsung should run quietly in the background and do things automatically. The only way to do this on Android is to keep a notification open. This could be one way to make it possible for companies.

It is also possible that this is a concession related to Google’s crackdown on the Accessibility API. The Accessibility API is one of the rare ways to run in the background with impunity and no notification has been issued. It is popular to use the accessibility API for non-accessibility people, and one is basically a “let me run in the background” API. At the end of 2017, Google established a new rule for Play Store apps, according to which the accessibility API only has to be used for accessibility functions. After numerous complaints from power user apps, however, Google withdrew the ban and said that this would be encouraged to promote a “responsible and innovative use of accessibility services”. Part of this could be providing a non-distracting way for apps to run in the background.

It seems like there are a lot of changes in Android 11’s notification panel, and right now the notification panel looks uglier than ever. I am not really saying this as a criticism – after all, it is an ongoing work – but as an expectation that further changes will come. At the moment there are all sorts of problems with contrast and legibility, which leads me to believe that a more dramatic redesign is imminent. If we stick to the current design and just add features, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for the ugly half we’re in right now.

Automatic revocation of authorization

Here’s a fun new feature: Android 11 automatically revokes permissions for apps that you haven’t used in a while. A new button “Automatically revoke authorizations” is now displayed on the authorization screen of each app. Under the switch there is even an explanation: “To protect your data, permissions for this app will be removed if the app is not used for a few months.”

This feature sounds a lot like “App Standby”, which was introduced in Android 6.0 Marshmallow. App standby let the apps operating system automatically remove the permissions for battery usage if enough time passes without being used. For app standby, “used” meant either started directly, generating a notification or starting a foreground service. Apps that go into standby lose network access, scheduled jobs, and background service privileges. However, this was only possible when the phone was on battery power. As soon as it was connected to a power source, a free background for everyone could be started and the dormant apps could be switched on again. Essentially, apps have been banned from battery consumption.

Removing permissions is a more far-reaching change, and the nice thing is that when a user activates a long-dormant app, it can be easily restored. You will probably only get the popups with the permissions again, which is fine. At the moment this function is deactivated by default, which hopefully is only a preliminary version. If it works automatically, just like app standby, it is more like the function. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this checkbox is just another App Standby feature.

The first betas (and Google I / O leftovers?) Will be released next month

That was ‘s for major changes in Developer Preview 3. Although COVID-19 is ruining almost all schedules for everything, Google has continued to commit to a monthly Android 11 preview release cycle, and the company reaffirmed this commitment yesterday by including the usual timeline graphics in his post.


Next month is the first official “beta” version (currently we only have “developer previews”), which is usually a big deal. In the past, the beta brought Android to more phones than just Google’s pixel line. The first beta version of Android 10 offers support for phones from Nokia, OnePlus, LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Sony and others. The next month, May, should also be Google I / O, Google’s biggest show of the year, and a time when the Android team talks about what they’ve built all year round and sheds light on new Android developments . Google I / O 2020 was canceled even the digital versionSo it’s hard to know what’s going to happen next month.

According to the Android 11 release schedule, all development work is ongoing. Therefore, communication about the new functions and the way in which developers can adapt to them must also take place. Maybe we’ll get blog posts and YouTube videos? Something? I hope something happens.

Listing image from Android

About Asmaa Sims

Asmaa, who was born and raised in Pakistan, now lives in New York and works in a technology company. He also writes blog articles about technological developments.

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