May 21, 2024

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Live activities on android? Android 15 is testing a lock screen change reminiscent of iOS

Live activities on android?  Android 15 is testing a lock screen change reminiscent of iOS

Turkish lire; Dr

  • Google is testing a change in Android 15 that moves the At a Glance widget to the bottom of the lock screen.
  • The At a Glance widget is currently placed near the top, just below the date.
  • Live Activities in iOS — a similar feature — is also placed at the bottom of the Lock screen.

Android widgets provide quick access to app shortcuts or useful information right from your home screen. The Android operating system used to allow you to add almost any widget to the lock screen until Android 5.0 was released about a decade ago. While some manufacturers like Samsung have kept the dream of a lock screen widget alive, Google has not shown much interest in reviving the feature.

As we first reported earlier this year, Google has finally brought back support for lock screen widgets in Android 15, though this feature may be limited to tablets. Although Android 15 may not allow phones to add widgets to the lock screen in the same way that tablets might be able to, the operating system may offer another way to do so. The method Google might use should be familiar to anyone who uses an iPhone because the method looks very similar to live activities on iOS.

This approach won't really work on phones since they have much smaller screens. However, the approach iOS has taken to bringing widgets to the lock screen is very elegant, so there wouldn't be anything wrong with Google using a similar approach. In fact, Google already has a great starting point for building the feature at a glance.

At a Glance, in case you're not familiar, is a widget-like element found on the home screen and lock screen of Pixel devices (Google also offers a simplified version of At a Glance for third-party OEMs, but few use it). The cards you swipe at a glance are built on top of the Smartspace API. Android widgets, on the other hand, are built on RemoteViews API. Smartspace doesn't currently handle RemoteViews, but that's something Google is quietly working to change behind the scenes. If, for example, Google were to end support for RemoteViews in the Smartspace API and then enable display of raw widgets from third-party apps at a glance, we would effectively have third-party widgets appearing on the lock screen.

Of course, things are not as simple for Google as “just” including support for RemoteViews and then displaying any third-party widget. The company will need to ensure that any built-in widgets scale to fit the limited area given to “At a Glance” on the lock screen. It will also need to make sure that third-party widgets won't crash at a glance and perhaps your entire lock screen. Additionally, you will need to work with more OEMs to include At a Glance in their lock screens.

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Another challenge Google needs to consider is where to place the revamped “At a Glance” view. Currently, it's displayed below the date on the lock screen, towards the top. Google is experimenting with moving Glance to the bottom of the Lock screen, a change reminiscent of Live Activities in iOS.

We had to enable some flags in Android 15 Beta 1.2 to make At a Glance appear at the bottom, so we're not sure if this is more than just a test or if Google is actually planning to move forward with repositioning it. Also, to better show the repositioned mode, we disabled the two shortcuts on the lock screen as they can sometimes overlap. Furthermore, the lock screen looks a bit busy when it displays notifications in the middle and a swipeable circle at the bottom.

For this reason, we think there's still some work to be done before At a Glance can be ported down, but this is a promising step toward bringing lock screen widgets back to phones. We don't know if these changes will happen or not, but it's possible that we won't see this launch until the next major version of Android after Android 15, for example. Android 16 in 2025.

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