Over the weekend, the intrepid software tinkerers over at Android Police picked apart last week's Android 4.3 leak. The screenshots were initially published on SamMobile without much context, but Android Police has managed to identify some of the expected new features. Android 4.3 is only a minor update, but it may make a big difference for end users. As we picked out from the leaked screenshots last week, Google has included a new Wi-Fi power setting that leaves the Wi-Fi on all the time. As Android Police explains:
…at least partially on, all the time. Now I know you might immediately scream "MY BATTERY LIFES!!" but this will probably save battery. Google wants you to leave Wi-Fi on so that apps can get your location, but consider that the other option for location is firing up the GPS chip, which is a battery's worst enemy.
The important thing to keep in mind if you hate this, you can turn it off. The option is just buried under an "advanced" menu. Turning off "Scanning always available" will make "off" for Wi-Fi really be "off."
There is also plenty of evidence pointing to a newly revamped Camera application, which has shipped with the most recent Google Play Editions of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One. Bluetooth LE will be a part of the update as well, and this should help make the technology less of a battery sucker. Overall, the leaks associated with Android 4.3 demonstrate a theme—a desire to make the OS a bit more energy-efficient.
Remember, though, that the Android 4.3 leak is really just that: a leak. The Android Police reading could very well be missing major features that Google will reveal when the software is officially announced. We'll keep you up to date as news develops.
UPDATE: Android Police posted additional information on the Android 4.3 leak today, showing that there may be a few notification-based updates coming to Android 4.3 (though who they're meant for is a bit puzzling):
They're called "Access Notifications" and "Notification Listener Service." The puzzling thing is that the protection level for these permissions is too high for third party apps. "Android:protectionLevel="signature" means "Google/OEM only" (whoever signs it) and "android:protectionLevel="system|signature"" means "System apps or Google/OEM only" no one else is allowed to access these permissions. If you scroll up and read the security warnings, though, it's clear this is meant for third party apps. There would be no reason for Google to warn you about themselves and allow you to revoke notifications access from Google Apps.
Android Police goes on to mention a theory floating around that the notifications would be related to Google’s foray into wearable computing:
All of these wearable computing platforms need an easy way to read, dismiss, and act on notifications, and it really looks like that's what Google is building. Imagine if your smart watch took advantage of this and could activate notification action buttons. You'd have a super simple way to archive the latest Gmail message or pause music on your favorite music player. Controlling your phone's notification panel from another device would make an Android phone the premier companion device for a wearable computer.
There's also the possibility that this will enable the ability for third-party notification panels, so users won't be limited to what Google is offering right out of the box. Users can already switch out the keyboard, home screen, and a few other minor parts of the Android interface, so it's entirely possible that the notification panel may be next in line.