Samsung did get Google’s permission to change the Galaxy Note 7’s battery icon


Yesterday, some people accused Samsung of being shortsighted in their honest attempt to make it easier for people to identify safe Galaxy Note 7 units. The offending change was the battery status indicator that sits in each phone’s status bar, something that would be against Google’s mandate that all status bar icons be white.


We felt it wasn’t such a big deal — if Samsung couldn’t change the battery icon, there were still plenty of other things they could do — but it turns out they did get permission from Google, after all. Senior VP of Android and Chrome OS Hiroshi Lockheimer confirmed that they did indeed work with Samsung to give them some leeway to stray from the script a bit.

As we had suspected, this was allowed due to the “extraordinary circumstances” behind this whole event. While the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 isn’t the first device to be recalled for battery issues, it certainly is the most notable, and we haven’t seen nearly as many widespread reports for other cases as we have for the Note 7’s. The FAA even went as far as banning the thing on their flights.

By and large, this is something Google could afford to be loose on, and so they gave the blessing. The result is a green status icon, though one that is surrounded by a white border so it’s still somewhat in accordance with Google’s rules.

The reason Google needs those icons to be white is because they don’t want icons clashing with apps which change the status bar’s color, a design trait we’ve been enjoying ever since Android 5.0 Lollipop. A green battery would be very hard to see on the Google Play Store’s green status bar, for instance.

So, the need for the rule is clear, but if Samsung can make the battery green while still making it easy to see the battery icon, then we guess there’s nothing to worry about. The only concern now is whether you’re OK with the lack of uniformity, but that’s a personal decision that you and you alone have to figure out.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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