Yesterday, Samsung clarified how Galaxy Note 7 customers will be able to tell the fixed handsets apart from the ones packing a potentially explosive battery. The tweaks include a black sticker on the box and a new green battery icon after a software update. The latter might seem like a simple solution, but it turns out that Samsung actually had to obtain permission from Google to change the color of this simple little icon
It sounds rather pedantic, but changing the color of any status bar icon is against Google’s rules that must be adhered too in order for devices to comply with the Android Compatibility Definition Document. Compliance is required by manufactured in order to secure access to Google’s app suite, including the Play Store. Buried in Google’s rather large rule book, under the part dealing with themes, the company states that all Android status bar icons must be white. This is because it ensures that the icons can be read across a wide range of background colors.
To enable a consistent developer experience in this configuration, it is important the status bar icon style is maintained across different device implementations. Therefore, Android device implementations MUST use white for system status icons (such as signal strength and battery level) and notifications issued by the system – developer.android
According to Hiroshi Lockheimer – Google’s SVP of Android, Chrome OS, and Google Play – Samsung was granted an exception due to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the Note 7. However, Samsung has had to keep a small white border around the battery icon to help “ensure compatibility”, or should that be legibility.
On the one hand, it’s remarkable just how much control Google exerts over even the smallest details of its mobile operating system, before allowing companies to use its apps. On the other, at least Google has let common sense prevail to allow Samsung to provide a simple solution to a notable problem. However, do you think that the little green battery icon will be enough to let users know that they have a safe Galaxy Note 7?