Carriers To Begin Hiding Mobile Signal Strength In Android P

Some wireless carriers may begin hiding mobile signal strength in Android P, according to a number of Android Open Source Project commits recently discovered by XDA Developers. While telecom companies in the United States are already doing so to an extent on their branded devices, the newly spotted code suggests they would be able to hide the signal strength provided by their network on any device using their SIM card, depending on the exact configuration defined in the vendor.xml file. The feature isn't exclusive to stateside mobile service providers and would be available to carriers around the world.

Much like it's the case with similar functionalities introduced in previous years, this particular change wouldn't entirely prevent users from finding out the strength of the wireless signal they're receiving but would only make doing so significantly more difficult. The feature doesn't introduce any changes to the application programming interfaces (APIs) that third-party apps can utilize in order to identify the true signal strength provided by any network operator. Still, the signal strength expressed in dBm that can usually be accessed in the system Settings app would be hidden from users of Android P-powered devices on networks that want to take advantage of the newly uncovered code. While the sole introduction of this change doesn't necessarily imply signal strength metrics will be blocked on an API level in the future, it can be interpreted as an indicator that wireless carriers are considering such a move. As is usually the case with practices that are arguably anti-consumer in nature, this particular feature is unlikely to ever be highly publicized by any mobile service provider that opts to employ it.

Android P is expected to debut with the version number 9.0 in 2018, with its first developer preview being likely to launch in late winter or early spring before the next Google I/O conference takes place in May. Google started active development of the next major iteration of its operating system over the summer, as suggested by a number of previously discovered AOSP commits. Android P is likely to hit the stable channel next August, approximately a year after Android 8.0 Oreo did the same.

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Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]