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What is Screen Attention, AKA Adaptive Sleep?

There are many features that OEMs create on their own that eventually make their way into the core Android OS. Samsung has been responsible for many of them & the release of Android 10 adds one that’s similar to Smart Stay. Google calls this Screen Attention in its Pixel devices but developers will likely know it as Adaptive Sleep.

We’ve seen various OEMs implement this type of feature in its OEM ROM for years. As mentioned, Samsung has had it in TouchWiz and now in OneUI for years. They call it Smart Stay and its goal is to detect whether or not you are looking at the screen. If you are, then it will make sure Android doesn’t lock the screen on you.

If it doesn’t though, then the OS will follow the same screen timeout preference you currently have it set to.

Samsung has had to build this feature into its OEM ROM but with the release of Android 10 that is no longer needed. We’ll have to wait and see if Samsung uses its custom code for the feature of its uses the new Android OS placeholder setting instead. This placeholder is being referred to as Adaptive Sleep (which goes in line with things like Adaptive Brightness).

picture of screen attention from the pixel 4

Google Calls it Screen Attention

Samsung will likely continue to call its feature Smart Stay but Google likes the phrase Screen Attention more. If you purchase the new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL then you will see this feature tucked away in the Settings application. It’s something you can disable very easy but it could grow on you if you give it a chance.

I’ve never found it to be of much use but I can understand the appeal.

Similar to the name though, Google’s implementation of Screen Attention is technically different than Samsung’s. For Samsung, the company used the front-facing camera to determine if your eyes were open and looking at the screen. As you can guess, this takes a decent amount of battery to perform the check though.

Google is utilizing the same technology that it used to implement Motion Sense. This means Google is utilizing the Project Soli radar chip that sits on top of the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. This is why the company has said it will not be backporting the Screen Attention feature to older Pixel smartphones.

Granted, they could program something that uses the front-facing camera like Samsung, but again, it’s not an ideal solution.

picture showing screen attention sensors at the top of the pixel 4

How Does Adaptive Sleep Work?

Remember, Screen Attention is what Google is calling it. Inside the Android code, we see that this is using the Adaptive Sleep placeholder setting. So, if another OEM (LG, Motorola, Samsung, etc.) wanted to leverage this new feature then they could do so and give it a unique and brandable name as Samsung and Google have already done.

These OEMs don’t even have to implement Google’s Project Soli radar chip either. Samsung can continue to use the front-facing camera and other OEMs could do the same. LG has some new gestures in its latest smartphone too that could potentially be used for the same thing.

It really doesn’t matter what technology is used to detect if the person is looking at the screen or not.

All the OEM has to do is use whatever technology it wants. Once it is able to detect if the user is looking at the screen or not, then it can pass that information along to the Android OS (since it is now baked into Android 10). This means that Samsung no longer has to create custom code in order to lock the screen (or prevent it from being locked).

This should, in turn, result in less battery being used. Granted, most of the battery usage will depend on what technology is used to detect the screen should be locked or not. Still, it’s great to see Google finally adding this into the core Android 10 operating system so OEMs (and custom ROM developers) do not have to do as much work.

Although, Samsung will have to put in the time to move away from their custom implementation (if they choose to do so).


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