Google will allow wireless carriers to define signal bars in Android P, providing them with the ability to change the operating system's mechanism for representing mobile signal strength on devices with cellular connectivity, XDA Developers reports, citing a number of commits recently discovered in the main repository of the Android Open Source Project. The move is understood to be part of an effort to provide telecom companies with more options in regards to customizing the Android handsets they retail. A related change mentioned by a commit uncovered late last year suggested mobile service providers may actually be able to completely hide signal strength from users starting with Android P.
The newly discovered functionalities are indicative of more granular controls which should allow for defining custom signal strength levels for all five LTE bars currently being displayed by the operating system. There are presently no range limitations on such custom thresholds, though Google may eventually opt to implement them before commercializing the next major iteration of Android in the second half of the year. Once telecoms start using the new options, customers are likely to see their signal bars increase following the update to Android P even if their networks continue operating as before. Not all industry watchers are expecting such misleading practices, with some arguing that signal indicators in previous versions of Android are device-specific, i.e. defined by manufacturers who could theoretically change them if requested to do so by their wireless carrier partners. Regardless, the upcoming changes would make the process of defining custom signal bar thresholds easier and more consistent across devices.
Some of the commits detailing the new mechanism mention that device-agnostic signal bar thresholds were requested by Verizon Wireless, Dutch Vodafone Libertel, and Australia's Telstra. The Mountain View, California-based tech giant still hasn't shared any details on Android P in an official capacity but is expected to debut the first developer preview of the mobile OS in the coming weeks without any prior announcements, as was the case with Android 8.0 Oreo last year. The software should be finalized and hit the stable channel in late summer or early fall following numerous revisions.