Android P Streamlines Location Accuracy Settings

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Android P streamlines native Location Accuracy settings and turns them into a toggle, consequently eliminating one of the more specific choices supported in previous versions of Google's mobile operating system. As of the first developer preview of the new OS build, the "High accuracy" setting is now active when the functionality is turned on, whereas a disabled switch will essentially have the host operate in the old "Device only" mode that only relies on GPS and doesn't use Wi-Fi and mobile networks. Android previously also supported a "Battery saving" mode that allowed apps to use cellular and Wi-Fi data to determine their location without calling GPS services, though the removal was likely prompted by the fact that other Android P changes have now made that functionality largely redundant.

Google is introducing some major restrictions on idle app activity with Android P, with one of them preventing all services that are running in the background from asking for GPS data. While the move was primarily made to increase the overall level of privacy and digital security users can expect from the mobile OS, it also improves the platform's efficiency as GPS will now only be active when it's needed by an app running in the foreground, eliminating the need for more granular controls. While the change also prevents people from disabling GPS usage entirely, it isn't likely to inconvenience many given how GPS will now remain dormant less the user is consciously launching apps that use it and if they are, they wouldn't want it to be inactive in the first place. In rare cases when that doesn't apply as users want to launch GPS-reliant apps without having the functionality actually turned on for any reason, they can still do so by enabling the Airplane mode of the OS.

The first developer preview of Android P also debuts support for Wi-Fi RTT tracking which allows apps to determine the approximate position of a device in a room based on its distance to at least three separate Wi-Fi access points, i.e. triangulation techniques. The next major iteration of the OS will go through four more experimental builds before hitting the stable channel in the third quarter of the year, Google revealed yesterday.

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