Android P is still pretty far out from being official and loaded on our smartphones, but we’re already hearing quite a bit about how much control it will give wireless carriers over how the software displays signal strength. An earlier rumor suggested that carriers could hide signal strength entirely in the next version of Android, but it looks like they’ll also to tweak just how many bars of signal it looks like you’re getting.
So, what exactly does this mean? Well, according to a commit in AOSP, a carrier can theoretically adjust the different signal levels required for your status bar signal meter to show different amounts of bars. If Verizon wanted to lower the threshold for a signal between two and three bars, well, you’d see that you had three bars more frequently, even if you were getting the exact same signal as your older phone.
This isn’t all bad, either, so don’t freak out just yet. Manufacturers can also use this to adjust their signal levels in different countries where they may sell multiple models. So Samsung could have a weaker signal in India show three bars, while the same signal in the US would only show two bars due to the differences in what’s considered a “normal” signal between those two markets.
Carriers could also use it to totally fudge how good their network looks on flagship phones, and it’ll give John Legere something to yell about on Twitter. We’ll have to wait and see.