Android 11’s first developer preview has only just arrived, but it already bodes ill for users who like to customize Google’s mobile operating system.
As noted by some users on Reddit, the newest version of Android messes up apps that allow users to tweak the navigation bar. Apps like Custom Navigation Bar and Gesture Plus lets users tweak or replace Android’s default navigation system. However, these apps don’t use root privileges to do it.
Many of them rely on an Android Debug Bridge (ADB) command called ‘wm overscan.’ It allows users to hide the built-in navigation system on a phone so an app can implement a new one. Unfortunately, the first Android 11 preview says overscan is an “unknown command” when users issue it over ADB with a computer.
Without the overscan command, these third-party navigation apps don’t work properly. Some of them display their custom navigation on top of the existing navigation controls, while others crash or have different issues.
Android Police says it reached out to Google to find out if the change was intentional, or if it was a bug in the developer preview. The search giant has yet to respond, but a bug report filed on its official bug tracker had been restricted so you can’t view it.
If Google did make the change intentionally, it would make sense. The search giant has been working to unify Android’s navigation system across devices from different manufacturers. With Android 10, Google introduced a new gesture navigation system, killed the old ‘pill’ gesture system and convinced several manufacturers, including OnePlus, Samsung, Motorola and others to use the same gesture system. It’s also possible Google may have forced manufacturers to adopt its new gesture system with changes to its Google Mobile Services (GMS) agreement.
In other words, breaking custom navigation apps could be part of Google’s plan to unify navigation across Android devices. However, that would be an unfortunate way to go about it. Hopefully, the issue is a bug and not an intentional restriction on Android’s customizability.