Google earlier today published the AOSP tags for each Mainline module that was updated in the January 2023 Google Play System Update. Thanks to that, we were able to make a real changelog of what was new.
Here is what’s actually new in the January 2023 GPSU!
- The MediaProvider app has been updated with a skeleton settings interface for letting you pick a cloud media provider (CMP). Eventually, you’ll be able to pick photos from Google Photos through the Photo Picker, but it isn’t functional yet.
- (There’s a debug prop to enable the settings page, accessed through an overflow menu in the Photo Picker. There’s also a DeviceConfig value/CLI to allowlist a CMP. However, public builds of Google Photos don’t implement this yet, so it won’t work AFAIK.)
- The “Permissions” section has been moved to the top of the Safety Center’s Quick Settings page, as shown in this screenshot. Previously, it was called “Sensor Permissions” and shown below the safety check.
- Cronet, the Chromium network stack made available to Android apps as a library, is being added to the Tethering (packages/modules/Connectivity) Mainline module. It will likely become a new Mainline module in Android 14.
- The UWB stack is adding support for “OEM extensions”. UWB has also been updated to close-ranging when non-privileged apps go into the background.
- Android’s time zone database has been updated from 2022f to 2022g.
- WiFi: Added support for SSID bridging between WPA2 and WPA3 networks. The “actively prefer bad wifi” feature we mentioned recently.
- Google originally planned for the January 2023 GPSU to bump the extension SDK level to 5, but this was pushed back. Extension SDK 5 was planned to add support for height/width/orientation in the photo picker uri and expose the AdServices APIs.
There are also a LOT of bug fixes and general improvements. If you want to see the full list of code changes. Google doesn’t provide this kind of changelog anywhere, so I had to make it myself.
By the way, part of why we are making these changelogs is to highlight just how many changes are actually shipping in each Google Play System Update, and also to highlight how many changes are missing from the modules that most custom ROMs ship.
Unfortunately, many custom ROMs ship with outdated Project Mainline modules. This is because they compile them using platform tags (e.g. android-13.0.0_rX) which don’t contain most of the code changes included in each Mainline release.
On the bright side, we’ve heard that security patches for Mainline modules are at least still included in the platform tags. But feature/API additions aren’t, which is a problem. For example, many custom ROMs are missing out on features like Android 13’s “Safety Center” (ie. the unified security & privacy settings). If you enable it on a custom ROM, you’ll get the old, outdated, nonfunctional version (left) instead of the one that ships on Pixels (right).
This problem is solvable, but it requires some extra work from developers to either compile modules separately and include them in builds as Google does, or to just use Google’s prebuilts (but many won’t do the latter out of principle).