Back in December, we reported on an Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code discovery that indicated how Google may allow carriers to hide the signal strength listing
in a phone's settings with upcoming new versions of Android, like 9.0 Pie
, or whatever it gets called. New commits unearthed from AOSP, however, show that the practice may extend even further, to the good old signal strength bars that show in everyone's top screen.
Needless to say, carriers won't be able to hide them, as that would be radical, but they might be now be able to determine the distribution of signal strength denoted by a certain number of bars universally now. In other words, the signal strength thresholds could move from device-specific (the current situation) to carrier-specific with the simple insertion of a new SIM card in future versions of Android.
As to if and why carriers may be requesting such changes from Google, is anyone's guess, but it seems that from the US carriers, it's Verizon that is listed in the commits for the new changes. They might simply be requesting this freedom to change the signal strength bar thresholds in order to better comply with the varying signal levels on different carriers or in different places, instead of only being able to show one bar or five bars in certain scenarios, so it's not necessarily a nefarious move, but we'll have to wait and see how this strategy will be executed when Android P lands.