ight on time, Google released Android P Beta 2 (Developer Preview 3) for the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Pixel 2, and Google Pixel 2 XL (the Essential Phone also got it that very same day.) On the surface, there’s not much different from Android P Beta 1 released during Google I/O 2018. Within the code, however, are hints of what’s to come in future releases. We’ve found evidence that Google is adding support for a new type of wireless charging dock that we believe is in preparation for the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL.
Yesterday, a member of our forums leaked a set of pictures purported to be a prototype of the Google Pixel 3 XL. He later clarified with us that he strongly believes the material on the rear is glass—it’s definitely NOT metal or plastic, at the very least. Now, just because the phone likely has a glass back doesn’t mean it’ll have wireless charging—after all, the OnePlus 6 has a glass back but doesn’t feature wireless charging. However, the new code that we’ve found in the latest Android P Developer Preview combined with the new information we have on the Pixel 3 XL makes us believe that the next Pixel will indeed have wireless charging support.
Rear pictures of an alleged Google Pixel 3 XL prototype device. Credits: XDA Senior Member meraz9000.
If the Google Pixel 3 smartphones do end up supporting wireless charging, they wouldn’t be the first for Google. The Google Nexus 4, Google Nexus 5, Google Nexus 6, and the 2013 Google Nexus 7 all supported Qi wireless charging but starting with the Google Nexus 5X and Google Nexus 6P their smartphones no longer support the feature. With the release of the Apple iPhone X, however, the landscape is changing. Wireless charging (and display notches) are now “in” so every manufacturer needs to include them to stay competitive with the iPhone. (A company that’s commonly accused of copying Apple, Xiaomi, recently included support for it on the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, though it’s strangely absent from the Xiaomi Mi 8.) It’s thus no surprise to see wireless charging support make a return here.
Wireless Charging Docks in Android P – A Sign of Google Pixel 3 Support?
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean added a special sound that plays when you charge wirelessly and later Android versions differentiate between wireless and wired charging for charging indicators, so AOSP has had some level of recognizing wireless chargers for a while. It seems like Android P will expand on that by adding a new class of devices under the “Connected Devices” settings explicitly for wireless charging docks.
Android P Connected Devices settings.
The code suggests that a new type of Google-made dock is in the works, and we’ll show you why. The first thing we discovered, and what tipped us off about this possibility, is a set of new permissions contained within the AndroidManifest of the SystemUIGoogle APK of the latest Android P beta, taken from my Google Pixel 2 XL. (These lines were all right next to each other, for what it’s worth.)
<permission android:name="com.google.android.systemui.permission.WIRELESS_CHARGER_STATUS" android:protectionLevel="privileged|signature"/>
Beyond the obvious reference to wireless chargers and docks here, two things stood out to me: The permission name is prefaced with “com.google” rather than simply “com.android” and there’s a reference to a new Google app codenamed “dreamliner.” “com.google” tells us the permission is for meant specifically for Google apps, and not just to be used in AOSP. (Google Pixel 2’s Active Edge and Now Playing features are both gated by “com.google” permissions.) “dreamliner” is interesting because the package name “com.google.android.apps.dreamliner” is for an app that does not exist—at least not publicly. We also discovered another reference to “dreamliner” within the AndroidManifest file of the SettingsGoogle APK.
These two “dreamliner” related uses-permission tags are referring to permissions that are defined in an unreleased Google app. The one from SystemUI is to support some sort of “service” while the one from Settings is to read some information from dreamliner. So what exactly is dreamliner, then? Even without the dreamliner APK, the dormant code within SystemUI tells us a lot about it. Within the decompiled SystemUI APK, I found several classes related to dreamliner within com/google/android/systemui/dreamliner (there’s the “Google” before “Android” again.)
Examining these smali files shows several direct relations between “dreamliner” and wireless charging docks. There’s a lot to digest here, so I’ll just point out some of the more interesting findings.
Two examples of the relation between dreamliner and wireless charging docks
Google is dogfooding the feature
Dogfooding is a term used to describe when a company tests their own product internally. Within the code, we see that “dreamliner” is being tested privately by Google.
The following two Settings.Global values are used to determine whether to enable the test, I believe. They won’t do anything on a current Google Pixel smartphone because none of them support wireless charging and we don’t have the actual dreamliner app.
There could be multiple docks
The code for retrieving the dock information has fields for the manufacturer, model, serial number, and accessory type. The fact that there’s a field for the manufacturer suggests that multiple partners could be involved in creating a dock.
Also, new classes related to “docks” appeared in Settings under Connected Device. This suggests that the docks will have some special preferences to go with them, though we don’t know what it’ll allow you to do.
Are there really going to be wireless charging docks for the Google Pixel 3?
We’re not 100% sure, but it sure does look like it. There’s no direct reference to a next generation Pixel device in the code, but the fact that Google is dogfooding the feature, that this mysterious Google-made “dreamliner” app that’s obviously tied to wireless charging doesn’t yet exist, and that the rumored Google Pixel 3 XL has a glass back all point towards this being the case. At this point, we would be surprised if the Pixel 3 didn’t have wireless charging. There sure is a lot of work being done on wireless charging docks that seem out-of-place if this is just meant for better support in AOSP.