Android 15 gets satellite messaging, starts foldable cover app support


The Android 15 logo. This is "Android V," if you can't tell from the logo.
Enlarge / The Android 15 logo. This is “Android V,” if you can’t tell from the logo.

Google

Android 15 continues its march toward release with the Android 15 Developer Preview 2. Android 15 won’t be out until around October, but the first preview shipped a month ago. It’s time for another one!

Android’s satellite messaging support has been in the works for about a year now, and it sounds like Android 15 is going to launch the feature for apps. The new OS is including notifications and better status bar indicators for when you’re connected to space. A “NonTerrestrialNetwork” API will let apps know when they’re limited to barely there satellite connectivity. Google says Android 15 will let third-party SMS and MMS applications tap into the satellite connectivity APIs, but enhanced messaging with RCS support will be limited to “preloaded” applications only. It seems incredible that Google doesn’t have public APIs for third-party RCS apps, but here’s your confirmation that Android 15 will continue locking out Play Store apps from RCS.

Android’s PDF support can be all over the place depending on what device you have, so Android 15 is including making some big improvements to the built-in PDF render. First it’s going to end up as a module so it can be updated via the Play Store. Google says this Android 15 version is getting “advanced features such as rendering password-protected files, annotations, form editing, searching, and selection with copy.”

Flip phone-style foldables are upending the Android app ecosystem with tiny little screens that are too small to work with normal Android apps, and Google is trying to do something about them with Android 15. Today devices like the Motorola Razr and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, with ~3-inch-square front screens, are mostly limited to the packed-in apps.

For now it looks like Google is only standardizing the opt-in flag, with a “cover screen support” property. Google says: “These screens are too small to be considered as compatible targets for Android apps to run on, but your app can opt-in to supporting them, making your app available in more places.” As for how exactly a developer is supposed to support a bunch of proprietary, ultra-tiny screens, it sounds like Google isn’t ready to help with that yet. At some point, Android needs framework, IDE, and Play Store app listing support for cover screens.

The second developer preview is available today for the Pixel 6, 7, 8, Fold, and Pixel Tablet. There’s no beta program yet, so you’ll need to grab a cable and flash it yourself if you’re on the stable Android version. As always, these early releases are just low-level developer-facing additions (we skipped a lot of font and SQL changes). The exciting new features—if there are any—should be announced on May 14 at Google I/O.



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