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Android 11’s power menu may turn into control center for home automation

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When Google released Android 11 Developer Preview 1 yesterday, we found mostly surface-level changes in our initial hands-on. It seems that Google will once again leave the bulk of the user interface changes and new features for a public beta after an announcement at Google I/O 2020. However, we discovered several in-development user interface tweaks that suggest big changes are coming for the Android OS in 2020. We discovered that Google may put a media player in the Quick Settings panel, separate the notification shade from the Quick Settings panel, and now, we’ve found that Google may be tweaking the power menu to accommodate user-selected home automation shortcuts.

On my Pixel 2 XL running Android 11 DP1, I managed to activate a new UI for the long-press power menu, as shown below. The existing power menu icons, including Emergency, Screenshot, Restart, and Power off, shift to the top of the screen, leaving a lot of empty space underneath. In addition, a new “Home” text appears above the icons. The icons shifting upward suggests that Google plans on adding something to fill up the empty space, which we initially assumed was in preparation for the new Quick Access Wallet feature that’s now in Android 11. However, the presence of the “Home” text raises the question of why it’s there—could Google be in the process of creating categories in the power menu for different kinds of actions?

Digging into the code, we discovered multiple classes in SystemUIGoogle related to a feature called “Controls.” The code suggests that the user can set shortcuts as “favorites” to show up in this menu, which are stored by the system in an XML file with the shortcuts’ IDs, titles, types, and components. There are new activities in SystemUIGoogle related to Controls: ControlsFavoritingActivity and ControlsProviderSelectorActivity. Launching the former raises a permission denial as it’s an unexported activity and we don’t have root access while launching the latter brings up the following UI:Android 11 Controls ProvidersAndroid 11 Controls ProvidersUnfortunately, this UI is empty at the moment, so we aren’t able to add our own favorite shortcuts to the power menu. We found references to a new permission called “android.permission.BIND_CONTROLS” and a new service called “android.service.controls.ControlsProviderService” that suggest that third-party applications will be able to create a “Controls” service that the Android System can bind to and show in this list, much like with Quick Settings tiles. That there are no third-party applications that support the “Controls” API would explain why the activity shown above is empty at the moment.

It looks like Google is taking cues from the iOS Control Center here, though we aren’t entirely sure why Google is working on this feature in the first place given that the Quick Settings panel already exists, and it can be filled with custom shortcuts. We’ll keep track of the development of this feature in case anything changes in future Android 11 Developer Previews.

Android 11 News on XDA

Update 1: Possibly for Home Automation Controls

After publishing this article, XDA Recognized Developer Quinny899 reached out to inform us of his own finding. The updated framework.jar in Android 11 reveals what kinds of shortcuts may appear in the “Controls” menu in the power menu. He discovered a list of appliance types that are accepted as “valid device types” in the Controls service. Here is the full list:

Supported Home Automation Device Types for Android 11 Controls API

private static final int NUM_CONCRETE_TYPES = 51;
private static final int NUM_GENERIC_TYPES = 7;
public static final int TYPE_AC_HEATER = 1;
public static final int TYPE_AC_UNIT = 2;
public static final int TYPE_AIR_FRESHENER = 3;
public static final int TYPE_AIR_PURIFIER = 4;
public static final int TYPE_AWNING = 33;
public static final int TYPE_BLINDS = 34;
public static final int TYPE_CAMERA = 50;
public static final int TYPE_CLOSET = 35;
public static final int TYPE_COFFEE_MAKER = 5;
public static final int TYPE_CURTAIN = 36;
public static final int TYPE_DEHUMIDIFIER = 6;
public static final int TYPE_DISHWASHER = 24;
public static final int TYPE_DISPLAY = 7;
public static final int TYPE_DOOR = 37;
public static final int TYPE_DOORBELL = 51;
public static final int TYPE_DRAWER = 38;
public static final int TYPE_DRYER = 25;
public static final int TYPE_FAN = 8;
public static final int TYPE_GARAGE = 39;
public static final int TYPE_GATE = 40;
public static final int TYPE_GENERIC_ARM_DISARM = -5;
public static final int TYPE_GENERIC_LOCK_UNLOCK = -4;
public static final int TYPE_GENERIC_ON_OFF = -1;
public static final int TYPE_GENERIC_OPEN_CLOSE = -3;
public static final int TYPE_GENERIC_START_STOP = -2;
public static final int TYPE_GENERIC_TEMP_SETTING = -6;
public static final int TYPE_GENERIC_VIEWSTREAM = -7;
public static final int TYPE_HEATER = 0x2F;
public static final int TYPE_HOOD = 10;
public static final int TYPE_HUMIDIFIER = 11;
public static final int TYPE_KETTLE = 12;
public static final int TYPE_LIGHT = 13;
public static final int TYPE_LOCK = 45;
public static final int TYPE_MICROWAVE = 14;
public static final int TYPE_MOP = 26;
public static final int TYPE_MOWER = 27;
public static final int TYPE_MULTICOOKER = 28;
public static final int TYPE_OUTLET = 15;
public static final int TYPE_PERGOLA = 41;
public static final int TYPE_RADIATOR = 16;
public static final int TYPE_REFRIGERATOR = 0x30;
public static final int TYPE_REMOTE_CONTROL = 17;
public static final int TYPE_SECURITY_SYSTEM = 46;
public static final int TYPE_SET_TOP = 18;
public static final int TYPE_SHOWER = 29;
public static final int TYPE_SHUTTER = 42;
public static final int TYPE_SPRINKLER = 30;
public static final int TYPE_STANDMIXER = 19;
public static final int TYPE_STYLER = 20;
public static final int TYPE_SWITCH = 21;
public static final int TYPE_THERMOSTAT = 49;
public static final int TYPE_TV = 22;
public static final int TYPE_UNKNOWN = 0;
public static final int TYPE_VACUUM = 0x20;
public static final int TYPE_VALVE = 44;
public static final int TYPE_WASHER = 0x1F;
public static final int TYPE_WATER_HEATER = 23;
public static final int TYPE_WINDOW = 43;

It’s possible that Google will allow you to control your smart home appliances through the power menu in Android 11. This explanation makes sense in context of the “home” text appearing up top. We’ll update you if we learn more about this feature or if we manage to get our own shortcut to appear in the menu.

Update 2: Controls Provider Hacked to show a custom “Lightbulb” app

Here’s a screenshot provided by developer Kieron Quinn showing a quick “Lightbulb” app he put together and managed to surface in the “Controls Providers” activity in Android 11. Tapping on the icon currently makes the system crash. We’ll update this post if we manage to get it working beyond this.

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Pandemic simulation game 'Plague Inc' pulled from China's App Store – Mashable

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The coronavirus gave Plague Inc. a surge of popularity in China.
Image: plague inc: evolved

Pandemic simulator Plague Inc. became China’s top paid iOS download in January, as players flocked to the game in the wake of coronavirus concerns. Now the game has been taken down from China’s App Store, with the Cyberspace Administration of China citing “illegal content.”

Plague Inc. developer Ndemic Creations announced the sudden removal in a Feb 27. blog post. “We’ve just been informed that Plague Inc. ‘includes content that is illegal in China as determined by the Cyberspace Administration of China’ and has been removed from the China App Store,” Ndemic Creations wrote. “This situation is completely out of our control.”

Exactly what illegal content Plague Inc. contains is unclear. Though it was only removed from the App Store this week, the game had been available in China since its worldwide release eight years ago. However, Plague Inc. had recently gained significant attention due to its thematic relevance to the current coronavirus epidemic.

In Plague Inc., players take on the role of an infectious disease and attempt to wipe out all human life. Gameplay involves choosing how to evolve, becoming more deadly and spreading across the globe. 

It feels very pertinent considering recent events.

“It’s not clear to us if this removal is linked to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that China is facing,” wrote Ndemic Creations. “However, Plague Inc.’s educational importance has been repeatedly recognised by organisations like the CDC and we are currently working with major global health organisations to determine how we can best support their efforts to contain and control COVID-19.”

Ndemic Creations is attempting to contact the Cyberspace Administration of China to find out more information and work to return Plague Inc. to the Chinese App Store.

Last month, Ndemic Creations acknowledged Plague Inc. had seen a significant spike in players due to the coronavirus. “However, please remember that Plague Inc. is a game, not a scientific model and that the current coronavirus outbreak is a very real situation which is impacting a huge number of people.”

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Coronavirus Concerns Lead to the Cancellation of One of Tech's Biggest Developer Conferences – Gizmodo

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Photo: Getty Images

The spread of coronavirus is prompting companies to cancel nonessential travel. That includes trade shows like the smartphone-centric Mobile World Congress, which was scheduled to be held in Barcelona this week but was called off. Now Facebook has canceled its own annual event, the F8 developer’s conference, citing “growing concerns around COVID-19.”

The move is clearly out of an abundance of caution: F8 was scheduled to take place in San Jose, California, May 5 and 6. Now all eyes are on Facebook’s rival companies, Google, Microsoft, and Apple, who also have developer conferences in the works for early summer. Google I/O is slated for May 12 through 14 in Mountain View, Microsoft’s Build is scheduled for the following week in Seattle, and Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference is typically held in the first half of June in San Jose.

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Facebook’s Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, director of developer platforms, wrote in a Thursday blog post that the company is still planning local events and live-streamed sessions for developers to learn about changes and new features.

“This was a tough call to make—F8 is an incredibly important event for Facebook and it’s one of our favorite ways to celebrate all of you from around the world—but we need to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on,” Papamiltiadis wrote. “We explored other ways to keep the in-person part of F8, but it’s important to us to host an inclusive event and it didn’t feel right to have F8 without our international developers in attendance.”

Microsoft also announced Thursday that it will no longer attend the annual Game Developers Conference, slated for March 16 through 20 in San Francisco. The company joins Epic, Unity, and Sony in withdrawing from the event due to the coronavirus outbreak. Microsoft plans to host an online event that will coincide with GDC for developer sessions and announcements March 16 through 18. It’s unclear if GDC will be canceled or proceed without some of gaming’s biggest players.

It makes sense that voluntary conferences and trade shows be called off to stem the spread of COVID-19. Facebook and Microsoft don’t want to be the reason for a severe outbreak, nor do they want to be in the news for encouraging people to travel when they don’t need to. Developers will miss out on networking opportunities, but they’ll still be able to learn about the latest developments despite the lack of in-person sessions. At this point, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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It "Made Sense" For Baldur's Gate 3's Combat To Be Turn-Based, Says Dev – GameSpot

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Although combat in previous Baldur’s Gate titles has traditionally focused around the use of real-time mechanics, Baldur’s Gate III uses a turn-based system. For developer Larian Studios, it’s always been a no-brainer to make Baldur’s Gate III a turn-based game.

“It was never really a question,” Baldur’s Gate III design producer David Walgrave said, according to USG. “We’ve been doing turn-based for a while now. We’re pretty good at it. Dungeons & Dragons is turn-based in itself, so it makes a lot of sense.

“Even after we implemented the Dungeons & Dragons ruleset, the result was so different from what we concocted with Divinity: Original Sin that we saw that the combat designers would have to do it completely different, so that was a challenge,” Walgrave continued. “And we’re doing things that we haven’t done before, so, for us, it was the best choice.”

Though the implementation of a dice roll is definitely Dungeons & Dragons, the turn-based gameplay of Baldur’s Gate III is very reminiscent of Larian Studios’ Divinity Original Sin series–it makes sense for the developer to return to what it knows. “Part of the decision is that we know turn-based, and secondly, it’s that Fifth Edition [D&D] is played in rounds, so it kind of made sense,” Baldur’s Gate senior writer Adam Smith told VG247.

“It lets you do things like separating the party and having one person on high ground and one person on low ground,” Smith added. “It means when the combat starts, there’s a better sense of, ‘I’m going to get a sense of the tactical situation. I’m going to send this person over here, I’m going to do that, I’m going to send this person behind and shove an enemy.'”

In our own coverage of Baldur’s Gate III, creative director Swen Wincke spoke about how he hopes for Larian Studios to transcend the legacy of the game, and also discussed the challenges of creating the game and working with Wizards of the Coast.

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