Android 11 prepares phones for 5 different states of 5G

Chris Burns - Feb 19, 2020, 2:48 pm CST
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Android 11 prepares phones for 5 different states of 5G

Today we get our first major glimpse of what Google developers are doing to prepare Android 11 (or Android R) for 5G connectivity. We see the next-generation operating system update with the Android 11 Developer Preview, a bit of software that was just released for app developers today. With 5G, the Android experience expands in a number of exciting ways – but it begins at the base, with features like “dynamic meteredness” and a newly updated bandwidth estimator API.

“With 5G you can extend your Wi-Fi app experiences — such as streaming 4K video or loading higher-res game assets — to mobile users, or you can build new experiences designed specifically for 5G,” said Dave Burke, VP of Engineering at Google. “In Android 11 we’re enhancing and updating the existing connectivity APIs so you can take advantage of 5G’s improved speeds.”

With Dynamic meteredness API, developers can allow their apps to check whether data connections are unmetered. With this system, users can potentially easily take advantage of the full data afforded them by unlimited data plans. This suggests that we’ve not yet left (and hopefully never leave) a society where unlimited data is an expected feature when customers use mobile data with major carriers.

Burke says that developers will be able to “identify users whose carriers are offering truly unmetered data while connected to the carrier’s 5G network.”

Along with this comes an updated bandwidth estimator API, making way for 5G data bandwidth – and that whole complicated mess. See our 5G in the USA made simple: Sub-6 vs mmWave guide to learn more about what’s in the pipeline for all mobile data users.

Added with Android R – to show how complicated this whole multi-5G-connection situation truly is – you’ll find a range of scenarios in the Android R 5G Icon configuration string. Per the overview:

“This configuration allows the system UI to display different 5G icons for different 5G scenarios. There are five 5G scenarios:
1. connected_mmwave: device currently connected to 5G cell as the secondary cell and using millimeter wave.
2. connected: device currently connected to 5G cell as the secondary cell but not using millimeter wave.
3. not_restricted_rrc_idle: device camped on a network that has 5G capability( not necessary to connect a 5G cell as a secondary cell) and the use of 5G is not restricted and RRC currently in IDLE state.
4. not_restricted_rrc_con: device camped on a network that has 5G capability (not necessary to connect a 5G cell as a secondary cell) and the use of 5G is not restricted and RRC currently in CONNECTED state.
5. restricted: device camped on a network that has 5G capability (not necessary to connect a 5G cell as a secondary cell) but the use of 5G is restricted.

This is just the latest appearance of the ever-more-complicated saga that is 5G connectivity. Stick around as we continue to wade through the nonsense and find the bits that add up!

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