Google is reportedly planning to give carriers the ability to hide signal strength information with future Android versions. On current versions of Android, Google gives users ability to check network signal strength by heading to SIM status in Settings. However, a piece of code submitted to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) reveals that the company might allow carriers to hide that information in future.
According to XDA Developers, the ability to hide signal strength on Android devices is requested by carriers and Google has agreed to their demand. It is not clear why carriers want an option to hide signal strength when it is easily visible on existing iterations of Android.
The code also reveals that Google is only making it easier to hide the ‘Signal Strength’ information visible in the SIM status menu. It is not pulling the APIs that are currently used to fetch this information, which could allow third-party apps and services to continue to display signal strength of a carrier.
The signal strength on current version of Android shows the numerical strength of carrier signal measured in dBm or asu. While signal strength is generally represented with 5 signal bars on a smartphone, it is the numerical value that shows whether signal is good or worse. The device’s network signal is worse when the dBm number is lower.
The request from carrier does not mean that Android users cannot see signal strength but it won’t be straightforward. There are a number of apps on the Play Store that can display true dBm value of a carrier signal. The change is likely to arrive with Android P next year but the carriers might make it impossible to check the true value of signal strength in dBm by restricting APIs based on carrier configuration.