Sorry for a kinda clickbait title but it is what it is. I just watched a video about Android 15 changes and a lot of them are either not important or straight up bad.

I want to specifically mention increased background sensor usage (such as microphone) and the Find My Device network. These are serious privacy issues that just make lives of custom ROM developers and users harder by having to disable more and more stuff (that’s turned on by default of course), as well as a contribution to ewaste generation and general decrease of battery life.

I guess we are getting into the era of complete death of digital privacy and absolute surveillance. This is scary but not too unrealistic I guess. I just hope the devs of privacy-focused ROMs will be able to do something about it and purge these changes.

  • Lotarion@lemmy.world
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    2 months ago

    When the Find My Device network came to my device I was literally asked if I want my device to be part of it, so even though by default it’s an opt-out feature, everyone whose device can be connected to the network is asked if they want that to happen.

    Seems like it’s just another switch toflick off and forget about

  • Alphane Moon@lemmy.ml
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    2 months ago

    Android OS updates have been somewhat lackluster since Android 8/9. The OS and smartphones in general are increasingly becoming mature products with little true differentiation.

    They will try to leverage “AI” to accelerate upgrade cycles, but we’ll see how that goes.

    • BeMoreCareful@lemmy.world
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      2 months ago

      Yep, and as someone that has carried a work iPhone and a personal Android for years now, they’re pretty close to the same too.

      I mean, as far as usage/usability they do sort of what we want at this point.

      • HiddenLychee@lemmy.world
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        2 months ago

        Literally the only reason I use android is because of custom launchers and the ability to use a file explorer. Everything else is just the same

  • Chewy
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    2 months ago

    It’s important to note that Android ≠ AOSP (Android Open Source Project). Most of the actually interesting features advertised in a new Android release won’t be available to you if your not installing Google Services.

    E.g. heavily advertised features like Android 12’s “Material You” adaptive themes aren’t even available on AOSP and thus GrapheneOS, CalyxOS or LineageOS.

    New privacy features often already existed for years on custom ROMs like LineageOS.

    This is why since around Android 10 I’m not even following new Android releases, at least not beyond reading glancing over an article. I didn’t even notice my phone updated to from 12 to 13 (GrapheneOS) until I noticed the new background apps menu, which is pretty much all of the changes.

    Edit: Being able to set a language per app is a great feature of Android 13.

    Edit 2: As pointed out in comments below, my Material You example was wrong.

    A better example are heavily advertised translation and image editing features, which are sometimes locked to Pixel and definitely locked to installs with Google Services. Same is true for apps like “Digital Wellbeing”, which don’t work on AOSP but its features are advertised as Android features.

    tl;dr
    Android updates are even more uninteresting if your using a custom ROM, because most features won’t even be available in open source Android.

    • GolfNovemberUniform@lemmy.mlOP
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      2 months ago

      Where do you get such information from? I’m using official LineageOS and it has Material You. There is indeed a separate implementation for Pixels afaik but the difference is very little

      • Chewy
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        2 months ago

        You’re right, my apologies for confidently spreading misinformation and thank you for pointing it out. Material You colors are available on LineageOS and GrapheneOS, probably CalyxOS too.

        With Android 12 GrapheneOS and CalyxOS choosing different colors was not possible, maybe because they didn’t implement something at first, but with 13+ Material You works as intended.

        I’ve edited my parent comment accordingly.

  • keyez@lemmy.world
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    2 months ago

    Reading up on the blog posts and technical overviews for the new Find My Device network all of it seems well anonimized and local device to device coms not using GPS, and can be declined if needed.

    • jol
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      2 months ago

      I mean, it’s still Google, but honestly I’ve been looking forward for this feature despite being very privacy conscious. I really want to use trackers on my bike, suitcase, etc.

      • keyez@lemmy.world
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        2 months ago

        Same I’ve been reading up on it and still skeptical but going to get a few tags here in a few months.

    • HereIAm@lemmy.world
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      2 months ago

      Yeah, it’s just Google’s entry for the Apple air tag. I’ll have to read a bit more about it before I decide to turn it on, but from the outset it seems alright.

  • Kayn@dormi.zone
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    2 months ago

    Can you please not editorialize the post title when you make the video your post link?

    • GolfNovemberUniform@lemmy.mlOP
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      2 months ago

      Afaik it already is in Android but it’s hidden. Also such changes won’t make Android a decent OS to store private information on or bring the device with you. It’s getting more and more privacy-hostile and imo it’s much more important than visuals

          • Semperverus@lemmy.world
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            2 months ago

            I keep hoping that mobile linux will get better and pinephone will start popping off but the software experience so far has been absolutely miserable and progress has been incredibly slow on gnome and kde mobile experiences, modem drivers (missed calls and sms), and so on.

            There is progress, so it’ll get there eventually but how long that is is hard to say.

            And i know it requires volunteers in their free time. I’d like to contribute to the code but i’m far too inexperienced to do so and im too broke to fund anything. They expect far more detail in bug reports than im able to provide, so its all a wash.

  • applepie@kbin.social
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    2 months ago

    They treated us like cattle and most of us take it.

    Google is already angling to gut AOSP IMHO

    They got what they want out of it.

  • neclimdul@lemmy.world
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    2 months ago

    I don’t know. The sensor stuff sounds pretty gross but the assistants are already listening all the time so they probably got a good understanding of the battery usage and hopefully privacy and later they point out they’ve made significant battery life improvements.

    The Bluetooth find my device stuff is icky but I’m using my Bluetooth basically 24/7 so the auto re-enable settings means nothing to me. I honestly think most people turn it off and get annoyed later when it’s not on so that’s probably a pretty compelling improvement for them.

    There were some security wins too like the private app area, encrypted network controls and network monitor warnings.

    So privacy dead? No it’s basically the same. kinda just another megh update from Android. Moving forward but not wowing anyone. Google is too busy putting all their resources into ruining their trusted search reputation by making it lie to everyone to invest in a real android update.

    I wish someone would shake up the phone market again so we could look forward to these updates again.

      • neclimdul@lemmy.world
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        2 months ago

        The sensor stuff for the adaptive vibration? The first screen in that section of the video is a big feature card like they put in the upgrade tours which let’s you turn it on or off.

        • GolfNovemberUniform@lemmy.mlOP
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          2 months ago

          True. But idk if I was talking about that feature. I remember clearly hearing of a feature that cannot be disabled in the video. Though I just rewatched it and I didn’t find anything about it. Idk if it was removed from the video or I started having hallucinations (which is absolutely possible) but it doesn’t seem to be there anymore. Idk what else to say about it

  • Ironfacebuster@lemmy.world
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    2 months ago

    I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to change the device I’m playing audio out of without having to start Spotify, that way I can change it before I blare fart sounds out of my car speakers or something