Latest Android N preview introduces VR platform settings

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Last week Google released the second Android N Developer Preview with new goodies like support for Vulkan, some new emojis and a smattering of user interface tweaks. As developers have started to dig in a little deeper, one of the discoveries that has been made are some settings that indicate Google may be planning to hook in support for virtual reality to a much greater extent with the next version of Android.

Deep in the settings for apps running on an Android device, there are a couple new flags to set an app as a “VR Listener” or “VR Helper.” Although it is not exactly clear what role Google sees these types of apps fulfilling, the presence of the settings indicates they may work in a manner similar to how Android interacts with Android Wear devices. Applications that have Android Wear support get a setting to allow notification access on Wear devices. This is needed so that users can manage notifications showing up on multiple devices without triggering a loop or needlessly interact with the same notification more than once.

According to source, the settings for the new VR roles indicate an app “will be able to run when you are using applications in virtual reality mode.” This may mean an application could somehow superimpose itself when a user is in virtual reality mode. One can imagine this might provide for things like emergency or priority texts to show up even when another VR app is being used.

Another piece of the virtual reality puzzle may be a hardware support flag added in the latest Android N build called “config_sustainedPerformanceModeSupported.” The guess is this is a setting that might change the way a processor functions so that it does not spike up and stay up, resulting in an inevitable crash due to thermal issues. Anyone who has played a processor-intensive game is familiar with devices overheating if played for long enough. This new setting may be a tool Google is introducing to Android to help developers better manage these performance issues, especially in a world where users may want to keep a virtual reality unit on for more than a few minutes.

source: Ars Technica


About the Author: Jeff Causey

Raised in North Carolina, Jeff Causey is a licensed CPA in North Carolina. Jeff's past Android devices include an HTC EVO, a Samsung Note II, and an LG G3, and a Motorola Moto X Pure Edition along with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1. He currently uses a Samsung Galaxy S8 and (very rarely) a Nexus 7 (2013). He is also using a Verizon-branded Motorola Moto Z Play Droid supplied by his job. Jeff used to have a pair of Google Glass and a Moto 360 Sport in his stable of gadgets. Unfortunately, his wife and kids have all drunk the Apple Kool-Aid and have i-devices. Life at home often includes demonstrations of the superiority of his Android based devices. In his free time, Jeff is active in his church, a local MINI Cooper car club, and his daughter's soccer club. Jeff is married, has three kids, and a golden retriever.