Google turned Android 11’s Power Menu into a Control Center for home automation shortcuts [Updated]
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:
Unfortunately, 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.
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
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.