In the latest developer preview for Android O, there is some code that hints at Google working on Always-on Display, or an Ambient Display, that could be similar to what Samsung has in its own flagship smartphones. The code doesn’t reveal a whole lot, but it does show that Google is at least working on an Always-On Display feature. Now when that feature actually launches or is available, is another question. Google hasn’t mentioned anything about an Always-On Display in Android O just yet, so it’s safe to say that either Google is waiting for the final launch for this (or perhaps the Pixel 2 launch this fall) or that it’s not going to be part of Android O.
Always-On Display is something that Motorola sort of started way back in 2013 with Moto Display. Although that display did not stay on, it would flash when you had a new notification, and in later versions you could wave your hand over the screen to see what new notifications you had. In 2016, LG and Samsung both added Always-On Displays to their flagships. Unlike Motorola’s version, this was always on, showing the time and such. Now it worked better on Samsung devices since those use AMOLED displays, and it only lights up the needed pixels on the display. Thus not draining much battery on the device. Now it looks like Google may want to add the feature to AOSP for all of Android. This would likely be an upgrade to the Ambient Display it already has, which was basically the flashing Moto Display from Motorola.
XDA found this code in the latest developer preview that launched last month, but the feature isn’t actually live on Android O just yet. It’s located under the System Tuner settings, which means that it is definitely experimental for now. That’s where other things like multi-window and such were located for quite some time before they graduated to the stable version of Android. So it’s entirely possible that this Always-on Ambient Display could debut with Android P next year. Of course, we’ll just have to wait and see, after all Google should be pushing out the latest stable version of Android O next month.