Features removed and future versions

Google has just updated their play store policy documents with some upcoming changes. There's a lot in there and quite a few areas that directly affect Light Flow.

The main ones are:
  • Apps can't register for SMS messages unless they are the default SMS app on the phone
  • Apps can't register for MMS messages unless they are the default MMS app on the phone
  • Apps can't register for phone call based activities unless they are the default phone dialing app.
  • Apps can't use the contact database like they could previously to get details of contacts.

This affects a number of key areas within the app.
  • The contacts section has needed to be completely removed. This relied on the contact database and it's not possible to achieve what was previously available
  • Phone calls, SMS and MMS plus Voice mail have all also needed to be removed to adhere to the policy.

You'll also see a notification on first run about the app needing to get a list of app used on the device. This information now needs to be front and central within the app. This is to prevent unscrupulous apps harvesting this data. This is something we've not done as the apps list is only obtained to for providing features directly within the app.

I'm not a fan of removing features (some of them took quite some time to write) and I know users don't like having features removed, so as a softener, I've taken the decision to remove the adverts from the free version of the app.

Although these features have been removed, with the license version of the app it's still possible to create contact specific notifications and many other types of notifications.

See details here: https://www.reactle.com/p/custom-notifications.html

If you want the old features back you can download the app directly from our site with the old features still available. See the downloads section here The app can be downloaded from here. https://www.reactle.com/p/download.html

Future versions

From 1st November 2018 google are stopping apps that target old versions of Android below version 8 from being published with updates in the store.

I see how this totally makes sense, to ensure apps are getting updated to keep your device secure.

Sadly Android 8 when google introduced notification channels they totally changed how notifications are created. From Android 8 onwards an app has to decide upfront what color a notification led is going to be and which sound/vibration it'll use.

For Light Flow to work it's not possible to do this and therefore it's remained targeting Android 7. Please the app will still work on Android 8 or 9 devices, just that it's not using features from those versions.

This means that if from 1st November it's not possible to publish the app to the store and have all the cool led features that are currently available.

I'm still trying to work out whether to update the main app and remove the LED section from it and gain the Android 8 and 9 features or keep it at Android 7, but not update it.

What I do plan to do, it provide the app to be downloadable directly from our site where it'll still be possible for me to do updates in the future as needed.

The app can be downloaded from here. https://www.reactle.com/p/download.html

I'm personally saddened to have to do this, but unless google add an LED api update in the future there's not much else that I can do. I can't see that happening either when the Pixel 3 is the first Nexus/Pixel phone since the Nexus S to not have a notification LED in it.

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