App Categories in Android Oreo Will Allow for Better Organization

App Categories in Android Oreo Will Allow for Better Organization

Here at XDA we have been monitoring the Android developer site and the Android Open Source Project for changes and new API additions, and so far we have found many new additions and changes. These include commands to customise battery saver, a command line interface for theming (which led to rootless Substratum on Android Oreo) and now something else – Google has created app categories which are defined within the app’s manifest file.

Now, you’re probably familiar with the fact that the Google Play Store already allows applications to be categorized. However, currently this category is only useful to the user before installing the app. Once the app is installed, neither the Android system nor any other third-party app on your device will know what category that app belongs to. But that will change with the addition of app categories to Android 8.0 Oreo.


App Categories in Android Oreo

This change can be observed on the Android Developer site, added to the Package Manager class. The example use mentioned in the documentation is that apps, or perhaps the Android system itself, can use the categories to provide more meaningful data such as when summarizing battery, network, or storage use. This means that, perhaps in the future, the Android Settings app could show you battery statistics grouped by different app types. So if you play a lot of games, then the game category may dominate your battery statistics. Or if you listen to a lot of music, the apps in the music category will dominate your network statistics.

There are some other interesting scenarios where these new app categories may be useful for certain third party applications. For instance, a third party launcher can use the app categories to automatically create folders or drawer tabs filled with games or social apps.

Google’s addition of categories.

That being said, this addition will only be active for apps built targeting SDK26, or Android Oreo. Furthermore, there are only a handful of predefined categories that apps can define in their manifest file. Currently, the following categories are supported:

  • Audio
  • Game
  • Image
  • Maps
  • News
  • Productivity
  • Social
  • Video

Otherwise, the app is in the “undefined” category. If an app does not specify which of these categories it fits in, then the installer package (AKA the Google Play Store in most cases) may define the category for it using setApplicationCategoryHint.

Although the current category list is not very large, especially when compared to the extensive list of categories in the Google Play Store, it’s certainly a start. We hope to see more categories being added as well as apps start to categorize themselves, but given that Android Oreo will only be on a handful of devices by the end of this year, there isn’t much incentive for developers to start.

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