We need to get rid of the icon

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We need to get rid of the icon

Postby fhd » Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:31 pm

Turns out lots of users hate the always-visible notification icon :(

I perfectly understand it, I had to get used to it myself. I think the issue is that Android's notification area is usually used for just that, notifications that require your attention. Nothing permanent.

The problem is that this is, as far as we know, the only reliable way to make sure that Android won't kill our app if the system is running out of resources. That's how other apps who need to keep running in the background do it as well.

I think there are two possible solutions:

  1. Don't run as a foreground service - just run like any other app and hope the system leaves us alive
  2. Use a transparent icon. It will still take up place in the notification bar, resulting in a strange gap, but it's still less annoying

Does anybody know a better way?

These options are however both not good enough to be active by default, but we can add an option to hide the icon.

My suggestions is to implement both options, and put respective check boxes under Advanced preferences. Then we can have a Hide notification icon button right on the main screen, that leads to a new screen which explains the situation briefly and offers both solutions. If the users picks one, the preferences are changed respectively.

I fear this is the best we can do for now, but we should definitely address this quickly.
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby Wladimir Palant » Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:49 pm

I don't think that it is that uncommon for applications that need to stay around to show an icon, I've already seen several applications do that.

fhd wrote:that leads to a new screen which explains the situation briefly and offers both solutions.

That's a big issue actually because most people won't read what we explain there (particularly as I don't see a non-technical explanation of the implications) and then complain again when the choice they make randomly doesn't work out the way they hoped.

What are the test results so far - how bad is it really if we don't run as a foreground service?
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby fhd » Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:58 pm

Wladimir Palant wrote:That's a big issue actually because most people won't read what we explain there (particularly as I don't see a non-technical explanation of the implications) and then complain again when the choice they make randomly doesn't work out the way they hoped.


Yes, that's quite possible. It's possibly a bit too technical for many users, even if they do read it. But my intention was that we can prominently point users annoyed with the icon to basically an interactive FAQ entry like this. If they decide to ignore it, there's not much more we can do.

Wladimir Palant wrote:What are the test results so far - how bad is it really if we don't run as a foreground service?


I've been using this for about two days now, and ABP hasn't crashed. But I'm only testing on this Galaxy Nexus with 4.1, maybe this is something that's just problematic on older Android versions?
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby Jobp » Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:08 pm

Why not offer checkboxes under the menu option "Notification Icon"

"On" Adblock Plus icon shows continuousy"
"Transparant" Adblock Plus icon is transparant, but takes up the space"
"Off" *message shows when selecting this one* Adblock Plus icon is hidden, but this might compromise the connectivity of your Android device. Confirm"

Something like this? I think the real challenge is trying to explain the users WHY the icon is required.
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby MonztA » Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:21 pm

Wladimir Palant wrote:What are the test results so far - how bad is it really if we don't run as a foreground service?

It seems to start itself again but that "Adblock Plus has been granted Superuser permissions" message can get annoying.
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby greiner » Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:29 pm

Wladimir Palant wrote:What are the test results so far - how bad is it really if we don't run as a foreground service?

I lose the connection each time after playing around with Curiosity a few seconds. It is an app which is very memory-intensive:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... .curiosity
And I'm sure there are other apps that have similar requirements and I also want to point out that there are a lot of Android devices out there that don't have such goods specs like the one's of the Galaxy Nexus I'm experiencing this on.

Wladimir Palant wrote:That's a big issue actually because most people won't read what we explain there (particularly as I don't see a non-technical explanation of the implications) and then complain again when the choice they make randomly doesn't work out the way they hoped.

I don't think it's impossible to come up with a non-tech explanation for that along the lines of: "If you hide the icon it could lead to losing your internet connection for a short time under some circumstances."
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby Wladimir Palant » Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:24 pm

@MonztA, greiner - that doesn't sound very encouraging, I would rather not give people a footgun. No matter what the explanation says, they will use it and blame us for the consequences.

The way things sound so far, we should add the "not so useful" empty icon option that is at least safe to use - and try to explain why we cannot do better (in the confirmation message that most people will skip).
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby Wladimir Palant » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:07 pm

I looked into the way OOM killer is implemented. It mentions the android.os.Process.setOomAdj() function (public). It looks like setting the adjustment to 0 would have the same effect as actually running a foreground application. Can we use it to prevent being killed despite not having an icon?

Edit: It appears that calling that function is exactly what the activity manager does for foreground applications.
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby psnbrt » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:00 pm

hi folks,

i tell you, which way is working for me :
(asus nexus 7, stock jelly bean 4.2)

i go to the app info and uncheck the box "show notifications".
(in german "benachrichtigungen anzeigen")

is this about the issue ppl are talking about? ad block continues to block ads, or is there anything where devs could uncover any flaw due to this procedure?
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby Wladimir Palant » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:02 pm

@psnbrt: This is a new feature, older Android versions don't have it.
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby psnbrt » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:06 pm

@ wladimir palant
thx for the quick response.
now i got it, why ppl keep ranting about the icon. nevertheless i wish lots of success!
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby fanboy » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:21 pm

How about making the icon 1x1 transparient gif ? ;)
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby fhd » Thu Nov 29, 2012 6:32 am

greiner wrote:I lose the connection each time after playing around with Curiosity a few seconds. It is an app which is very memory-intensive:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... .curiosity
And I'm sure there are other apps that have similar requirements and I also want to point out that there are a lot of Android devices out there that don't have such goods specs like the one's of the Galaxy Nexus I'm experiencing this on.


How exactly did you reproduce it? I've been switching back and forth between several memory exhausting applications (GTA 3, Max Payne, Curiosity, ...) and ABP never disappeared from the running apps. Just tested to reload a site right after switching back from Curiosity, worked just fine.

Wladimir Palant wrote:The way things sound so far, we should add the "not so useful" empty icon option that is at least safe to use - and try to explain why we cannot do better (in the confirmation message that most people will skip).


You're right, it's the only option where we can be pretty sure that it won't have side effects. I guess it's fine if we just add that, should make people happy.

We have to be aware of the fact that it's intentional that background services always show a notification. I believe it's important to provide a hide option to the users, since so many are asking for it. But I'm not sure how far we should go trying to circumvent the guidelines.

Wladimir Palant wrote:I looked into the way OOM killer is implemented. It mentions the android.os.Process.setOomAdj() function (public). It looks like setting the adjustment to 0 would have the same effect as actually running a foreground application. Can we use it to prevent being killed despite not having an icon?

Edit: It appears that calling that function is exactly what the activity manager does for foreground applications.


While the method is documented in some places, it wasn't able to find it in the 2.1 or 4.1 SDK. It does sound like what we want though.

fanboy wrote:How about making the icon 1x1 transparient gif ? ;)


According to Andrey, the icon will still reserve the space used by typical notification bar icons :(
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby Andrey Novikov » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:37 am

I thought about it last night and came to the following proposal:

1. We rename "High priority" option to "Priority notification" and leave it in advanced settings.
2. We add "Transparent icon" option to main settings which is off by default and add a warning that it will still reserve space in notification bar.

Implementing only item 2 will make things worse: some people will laugh on us, some will become angry thinking that we mock them.

We can combine these two items into one 3-item list, but I think it is not good.
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Re: We need to get rid of the icon

Postby ggravier » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:11 am

What about this. When user selects the icon in the notification area, there is displayed, first thing, a notice that says "This icon is required to keep Adblock Plus running properly in memory and not be killed by the OS." ?
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