The CommonsBlog

Random Musings on the Android 13 Developer Beta 1

Each time Google releases a new developer preview, I rummage through the API differences report the high-level overviews, and even the release blog post, to see if there are things that warrant more attention from developers. I try to emphasize mainstream features that any developer might reasonably use, along with things that may not get quite as much attention, because they are buried in the JavaDocs.

Once we get to beta releases, changes to the API surface should start to diminish, and Android 13 Beta 1 is no exception. The API differences report is a fraction of what came in the two developer previews, and even those seemed smaller than in past years.

What Will Break You, Eventually

READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE effectively is deprecated. Once your targetSdkVersion hits 33 (for most developers, in 2023), you will need to stop requesting READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE and start requesting one or more of:


Those will affect your ability to read from the standard shared media collections. For other types of content, use the Storage Access Framework.

What May Break You, Sooner

Mishaal Rahman of Esper wrote this week about predictive back navigation.

(IMHO, “predictive” often means “royally screwed up”)

Mishaal goes into a lot of detail, but the upshot is that it appears that Google wants to use animations to help indicate to a user when a system BACK navigation gesture will send the user to the home screen versus doing something else. If you manage your own BACK navigation, such as by overriding onBackPressed() somewhere, you may need to migrate to the new OnBackInvokedDispatcher approach, and you may need to fiddle with android:enableOnBackInvokedCallback if you find that “predictive back navigation” breaks things.

As Mishaal notes, hopefully this Google I|O session will clarify things.

BTW, note that OnBackInvokedDispatcher moved from android.view to android.window in Beta 1.

What Else Changed?

There is an option now to listen to when the keyguard comes and goes. This requires a new SUSBSCRIBE_TO_KEYGUARD_LOCKED_STATE permission. However, this is designed solely for use by ROLE_ASSISTANT apps, so it will not be available to many developers.

Some notable things were deprecated:

The mysterious SPLASH_SCREEN_STYLE_EMPTY value was renamed to SPLASH_SCREEN_STYLE_SOLID_COLOR and appears to give you a way of opting out of having an icon on the mandatory splash screen.

Finally, if you have been using the force-dark options on WebSettings, those were deprecated and replaced by “algorithmic darkening allowed” methods, because those names just roll off the tongue.

What Comes Next?

We are slated to get three more beta releases. I expect there to be few API changes. If that turns out to be true, most likely this will be the last “random musings” post for the Android 13 cycle.

The final release date is murky, as usual, but probably is in the August/September timeframe. Be sure to budget time in May/June (if not sooner) to start playing with Android 13 and testing your app’s compatibility with it.

Apr 30, 2022

Random Musings on the Android 13 Developer Preview 2

Each time Google releases a new developer preview, I rummage through the API differences report the high-level overviews, and even the release blog post, to see if there are things that warrant more attention from developers. I try to emphasize mainstream features that any developer might reasonably use, along with things that may not get quite as much attention, because they are buried in the JavaDocs.

What Got Clarified From Last Time

About five weeks ago, I wrote about DP1.

This time around, the “13 DP1 while 12L is in beta?” answer is “12L is now folded into DP2”.

Also, they are now documenting the POST_NOTIFICATIONS permission. Of particular note is that this permission affects all apps, regardless of targetSdkVersion. If your targetSdkVersion is below Android 13’s presumed value of 33, the system will prompt the user to grant permission when you create your first notification channel, for a newly-installed app on 13. If you create that channel at an inopportune time… you will need to modify your app.

They are also documenting the new option for controlling whether a dynamically-registered receiver is exported. And, they mentioned in the blog post the option for revoking already-granted permissions, though the method name changed. Plus, they talk a bit about BODY_SENSORS_BACKGROUND.

But beyond that, the mysteries from DP1 remain mysteries.

What Else Got Announced Of Note?

The biggest thing is the Foreground Services (FGS) Task Manager. This allows users to stop your app’s process easily from the notification shade, if your app has a foreground service running. Of particular note is that the OS will nag users periodically about your app, if your service runs most of the time (20 hours out of the preceding 24, with a maximum of one nag per month). Developers may wind up adding flags to avoid users getting bothered by those messages, which in turn will cause Google to remove the impacts of those flags in some future Android release.

(if you spend enough time in Android development, predicting developer-and-Google actions in advance becomes simply a matter of pattern matching…)

The War on Background Processing continues, beyond the FGS Task Manager.

In a tweak to JobScheduler, “In Android 13, the system now tries to determine the next time an app will be launched”, which is not at all creepy. Nope, not one bit.

The official blog post mentions a few things that might impact a small percentage of developers.

And, that’s pretty much it for official stuff.

What’s Up With All the New Permissions?

DP2 adds 15 new permissions over DP1, let alone prior versions of Android.

Some of these, like MANAGE_WIFI_AUTO_JOIN and MANAEG_WIFI_INTERFACES, are documented as “Not for use by third-party applications”, which makes you wonder why they bothered to put them in an Android SDK that is explicitly for third-party applications.

They have added three content-specific permissions: READ_MEDIA_AUDIO, READ_MEDIA_IMAGE, and READ_MEDIA_VIDEO. The JavaDocs indicate that these are replacements for READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE, but only for those app that target Android 13 or higher. Presumably, holding one of these permissions, and not READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE, only gives you read access to that media type and not other content.

The other permission that may generate widespread interest is USE_EXACT_ALARM. Android 12 added SCHEDULE_EXACT_ALARM to be able to use exact alarms, but this is an “app ops” permission, one that users have to grant directly in Settings. USE_EXACT_ALARM appears to be a normal permission, but the JavaDocs make it plain that the Play Store (and perhaps elsewhere) will require you to fill out a form to be able to ship an app that requests it. As many developers are discovering with MANAGE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE, you need a really good reason to request one of these sorts of permissions.

What Is Up In the Clouds

Last time, I mentioned ACTION_PICK_IMAGES and how it may be backed by CloudMediaProvider objects. It appears that this might extend beyond images someday, as there are new interfaces tied to CloudMediaProvider rendering previews on a supplied Surface It’s possible that this is just for animated images, but my guess is that there may be more coming in this area, if not in Android 13 then in future versions of Android.

What Makes Me Want to Change the Channel

There are a ton of new and changed classes in, which pertains to actual TV channel playback on an Android TV device.

And, there are changes to the new package, including a new TvInteractiveAppService. That is described as “a service that provides runtime environment and runs TV interactive applications”. It is not completely clear what “TV interactive applications” are that are somehow different from “applications that run on Android TV”.

What Brings to Mind a Beatles Song

Activities, fragments, and dialogs all now implement OnBackInvokedDispatcherOwner. From these, you can get an OnBackInvokedDispatcher and use that to register an OnBackInvokedCallback, allowing you to get back.

What Makes Me Wonder If These Supplements Are FDA-Approved

A process can be supplemental. It is unclear what this means.

There is also a new supplementalapi package, containing an AdServicesVersion. Because of course an operating system should be in the business of managing ads.

Oddly, given these changes, SUPPLEMENTAL_PROCESS_SERVICE was removed in DP2 after having been added in DP1.

What Fulfills Some Developer Fantasies

I see a fair number of developers wanting to block or the screenshots shown in the overview screen. FLAG_SECURE blocks them nicely, but also blocks all other types of screenshots. Some developers have been trying to play games with replacing the activity content at just the right time, like that’s ever going to be reliable. Now, we finally can opt out of those screenshots.

What Helps Me Stay Awake At Night

You can now call setStateListener() on a WakeLock and register a WakeLockStateListener, letting you know if the WakeLock is enabled or disabled.

Mostly, this appears to be for cases where you want the wakelock to be enabled, but the system decided to disable it.

What Else Caught My Eye

There are a bunch of new feature identifiers, including ones that seem tied to the 12L merger (e.g., FEATURE_EXPANDED_PICTURE_IN_PICTURE).

Android 12L added activity embedding, as one way to take advantage of larger screen sizes. 13 DP2 appears to let you control which apps can embed your activities, via android:knownActivityEmbeddingCerts attributes on <application> and <activity>. And, it appears that you can allow arbitrary apps to embed your activity via android:allowUntrustedActivityEmbedding.

There is now an EthernetNetworkSpecifier, suggesting a continued push into less-mobile devices, like perhaps TVs.

There is now a Dumpable and DumpableContainer pair of interfaces, for dumping stuff to a PrintWriter.

showNext() and showPrevious() on RemoteViews are now deprecated in favor of setDisplayedChild().

There is a new LocaleConfig class, with a broken explanation.

There is a new isLowPowerStandbyEnabled() method on PowerManager, continuing the War on Background Processing. Because when you have 18 power modes, adding a 19th will help. On the other end of the power spectrum, you can now find out if you are plugged into a dock, though I now really want BATTERY_PLUGGED_WHARF and BATTERY_PLUGGED_PIER as well.

And it still seems as though changes are afoot for android:sharedUserId, as the new EXTRA_NEW_UID will tell you about changes to uids.

Mar 19, 2022

Random Musings on the Android 13 Developer Preview 1

Each time Google releases a new developer preview, I rummage through the API differences report the high-level overviews, and even the release blog post, to see if there are things that warrant more attention from developers. I try to emphasize mainstream features that any developer might reasonably use, along with things that may not get quite as much attention, because they are buried in the JavaDocs.

I am not feeling the best today, so I apologize if that impacts the quality of this post.

What Gives Me the “Time Has No Meaning” Vibe

12L has not shipped in final form yet, and we already have a 13 developer preview?

Even more surprising is the timeline, indicating that a final edition of 13 might ship as early as August.

My initial reaction to 12L was that schedules slipped, so they elected to move tablet-focused items out of the 12 release timeframe. Now, I do not what to think. However, you will want to plan on getting your 13 compatibility testing done a bit earlier than you have had to in previous years.

What Makes Me Want to Pick a Peck of Pickle Photos

ACTION_PICK_IMAGES is interesting. I am uncertain what the advantage is of a new Intent action over having ACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENT use a different UI for image/video MIME types. Still, anything to improve content access for developers is a positive thing.

Note that the photo picker seems to be backed by CloudMediaProvider objects. These appear to serve the same role for the photo picker that document providers serve for the Storage Access Framework. If your app is in the business of making photos available, particularly from collections that MediaStore does not index (e.g., cloud), you may want to pay close attention to CloudMediaProvider.

What Makes Me Want to Speak in Tongues

Per-app language preferences is a very nice improvement. As I wrote about a month ago, developers use hacks to try to get this sort of behavior, and having an official solution is great! Even better is a statement about Jetpack support for older devices.

Still, most of my questions from that earlier post remain unanswered. For example, if the device language is English and the app language is Spanish, and we use ACTION_PICK_IMAGES, what language is used by the photo picker?

From an API standpoint, you can bring up the relevant Settings screen via ACTION_APP_LOCALE_SETTINGS. In theory, you can react to changes via ACTION_APPLICATION_LOCALE_CHANGED, but that apparently requires an undocumented READ_APP_SPECIFIC_LOCALES permission. Hopefully, there is a configuration change when the app language changes, just as there is a configuration change when the device language changes. LocaleManager lets you directly manipulate the user’s selection of language.

What Other High-Profile Things Are Nice to See

If you need to talk to local WiFi devices, the NEARBY_WIFI_DEVICES permission probably is a big help. This is a common requirement for bootstrapping IoT devices, for example.

JDK 11 support is nice. If it only goes back to Android 12, it will be years before it matters, but it is still nice.

Programmable shaders sound promising, if you’re into that sort of thing. Similarly, if you have had hyphenation performance anxiety before, faster hyphenation is nice, except that it will be years before that improvement is something that is out for a majority of devices.

And, for the ~148 developers writing tiles, helping users add your tiles is a handy thing.

What High-Profile Things Make Me Yawn

I am somewhat mystified by “Intent filters block non-matching intents”, in terms of what the actual problem is that is being solved. This does not appear to be a security thing, as external apps can still start your components — they just cannot do so via a purely explicit Intent.

Themed app icons continues Google’s Material You initiative. Color me uninterested.

What Was Rumored But That Google Is Hiding

The Android Resource Economy (TARE) is yet another salvo in The War on Background Processing. Mishaal Rahman reports that it is there, but it appears that Google did not document it.

By contrast, POST_NOTIFICATIONS — the permission that you need to hold to raise notifications — is in the JavaDocs but is not mentioned in the required app changes documentation. My guess is that this is a documentation gap. Mishaal reports that it will only be enforced for apps targeting API 33. If true, this gives developers a year to ignore it, only to then scramble at the last minute to deal with the change.

(not you, of course — you are reading this blog post, so clearly you are a forward-thinking developer)

Mishaal also mentions that the clipboard will automatically clear, which is a win for privacy, but really ought to be pointed out to developers beyond this blog post.

What Makes Me Scratch My Head, But Over There, Not Here

There is a new NEARBY_STREAMING_POLICY permission. The underlying policy “controls whether to allow the device to stream its notifications and apps to nearby devices” (emphasis added).

There is also canDisplayOnRemoteDevices, which says “whether the activity can be displayed on a remote device which may or may not be running Android” (emphasis also added).

This makes me wonder what Google is up to.

What’s Old is New Again

Android 12 added a mandatory splash screen. Android 13 appears to make that less mandatory: a launcher could try to use setSplashScreenStyle() with SPLASH_SCREEN_STYLE_EMPTY to perhaps inhibit that splash screen. At least, that is how I interpret this API.

What Requires Better Penmanship Than I Possess

Handwriting is getting system-level love, such as supportsStylusHandwriting.

This matters little to me, as my handwriting sucks.

What Are Other Nice Changes

There is a new, non-dangerous READ_BASIC_PHONE_STATE permission. It is unclear what you get access to with that permission, but READ_PHONE_STATE seems overused.

Speaking of permissions, not only can you request runtime permissions, but on Android 13, you can revoke ones that you were granted earlier.

One of the long-standing problems with registerReceiver() is that the resulting BroadcastReceiver was always exported. This is not great from a security standpoint. Now, it appears as though we can control this.

A popular request in places like Stack Overflow is for a way to get the current time, from a time source that cannot be modified by the user. Android 13 gives us currentNetworkTimeClock(), which reports the time from a network time source (e.g., SNTP). As the docs note, this time still could be modified, but not easily.

What Will Require Some Work

All those PackageManager methods that took a “flags” int? They are all deprecated and replaced with ones that take richer objects.

If you work with Parcel directly, there are lots of deprecations and lots of replacements.

What Else Might Break Your Apps

There is a new BODY_SENSORS_BACKGROUND permission. Presumably, it is required for background apps that wish to read heart rate or similar data, such as on Wear OS. This permission has scary language about being “a hard restricted permission which cannot be held by an app until the installer on record allowlists the permission”. If your app already requests BODY_SENSORS, pay close attention to what eventually gets documented about the need for BODY_SENSORS_BACKGROUND.

There is a new “light idle mode”, as seen in isDeviceLightIdleMode() and ACTION_DEVICE_LIGHT_IDLE_MODE_CHANGED. This is when “when a device has had its screen off for a short time, switching it into a batching mode where we execute jobs, syncs, networking on a batching schedule”. The “networking” aspect of this is particularly disconcerting, and hopefully more will be explained about this mode.

Some methods were outright removed from the SDK, mostly in android.webkit.

What Else Might Break Your Apps In the Not-Too-Distant Future

android:sharedUserId is already deprecated. Google appears to be working on migration paths for apps that presently rely upon it, such as sharedUserMaxSdkVersion and EXTRA_UID_CHANGING. My guess is that android:sharedUserId will be ignored in some future Android release. If you are relying upon android:sharedUserId, start work on some alternative mechanism, and watch for documentation on how best to migrate to a non-sharedUserId world.

What Really Needs Documentation

There is a new system service, advertised under the SUPPLEMENTAL_PROCESS_SERVICE name. It is unclear what this is for.

Mishaal Rahman writes about “hub mode”, and the docs have things like showClockAndComplications that seem to tie into that. Perhaps this will debut in a later developer preview.

There is a TvIAppManager, described as being the “system API to the overall TV interactive application framework (TIAF) architecture, which arbitrates interaction between applications and interactive apps”. Right now, that system service has no methods, so the fact that it is undocumented is not a huge loss. This too might show up in some later developer preview.

There are a bunch of new KeyEvent keycodes that really could use some explanation (e.g., what is “Video Application key #1”, exactly?).

Feb 12, 2022

Navigating in Compose: Criteria

Navigating between screens is a common act in an Android app… though, as Zach Klippenstein noted, “screen” is a somewhat amorphous term. Naturally, we want to be able to navigate to different “screens” when those screens are implemented as composables.

How we do this is a highly contentious topic.

Roughly speaking, there seems to be four major categories of solutions:

  • Use the official Jetpack Navigation for Compose

  • Use some sort of wrapper or helper around Navigation for Compose — Rafael Costa’s compose-destinations library is an example

  • Use Jetpack Navigation, but use the “classic” implementation instead of Navigation for Compose, using fragments to wrap your screen-level composables

  • Use some separate navigation implementation, such as Adriel Café’s Voyager library

I cannot tell you what to use. I can tell you that you should come up with a set of criteria for judging various navigation solutions. Based on a survey of a bunch of navigation solutions, here are some criteria that you may want to consider.

Table Stakes

If your navigation solution does not support forward navigation to N destinations, or if it does not support back stacks (e.g., a goBack() function to pop a destination off the stack and return to where you had been before), use something else.

Compile-Time Type Safety

One key point of using Kotlin, and Java before it, is type safety. The more type safety we get, the more likely it is that we will uncover problems at compile-time, rather than only via testing or by the app going 💥 for your users.

…For Routes/Destinations

When you tell the navigation solution where to navigate to in forward navigation, you may want to prefer solutions where the identifier is something that is type safe. Some solutions use strings or integers to identify routes or destinations. That makes it very easy to do some really scary things, like compute a destination using math. Generally, primitives-as-identifiers offer little compile-time protection. You might prefer solutions that use enums, sealed class, marker interfaces, or other things that identify what are and are not valid options.

(and if you are asking yourself “what about deeplinks?”, that is covered a bit later)

…For Arguments

Frequently, our screens need data, whether an identifier (e.g., primary key) or the actual data itself. So, we want to be able to pass that data from previous screens. All else being equal, you might want to prefer solutions that offer compile-time type safety, so you do not wind up in cases where you provide a string and the recipient is expecting an Int instead.

A related criteria is “content safety”. You might want to prefer solutions where your code can just pass the data, without having to worry about whether it complies with any solution-specific limitations. For example, if the solution requires you to URL-encode strings to be able to pass them safely, that is not great, as you will forget to do this from time to time. Ideally, the solution handles those sorts of things for you.

…For Return Values

At least for modal destinations, such as dialogs, we often need to pass back some sort of “result”. For example, we display a dialog to allow the user to pick something, and we need the previous screen to find out what the user selected. Sometimes, there are ways of accomplishing this outside of a navigation solution, such as the dialog updating some shared data representation (e.g., shared Jetpack ViewModel) where the previous screen finds out about results reactively. But, if the navigation solution you are considering offers return values, and you intend to use them, you might want to prefer ones where those return values are also type-safe and content-safe.

IOW, forward-navigation arguments should not get all the safety love.

Support for Configuration Change and Process Death

Like it or not, configuration changes are real. Birds, perhaps not.

One way or another, your app needs to be able to cope with configuration changes, and your navigation solution should be able cope as well, to support your app. This includes both retaining the navigation data itself across configuration changes and, ideally, having a pattern for app data for your screens to survive as well (e.g., Navigation for Compose’s per-route ViewModel support).

Related is process death:

  • The user uses your app for a while

  • The user gets distracted by some not-a-bird for a while, and your app’s UI moves to the background

  • While in the background, Android terminates your process to free up system RAM

  • The user returns to your app after your process dies, but within a reasonable period of time (last I knew, the limit was 30 minutes, though that value may have changed over the years)

Android is going to want to not only bring up your app, but pretend that your process had been around all that time. That is where “saved instance state” comes into play, and ideally your navigation solution advertises support for this, so your back-stack and so on get restored along with your UI.

Hooks For Stuff You Might Use

Only you know what your app is going to need to do in terms of its UI. Or perhaps your designers know, or your product managers. Or, hey, maybe you are just spraying pixels around like Jackson Pollock sprayed paint. Who am I to judge?

Regardless, there may be some things that you want in your app’s UI or flow that tie into what you will need out of your navigation solution.

Tabs, Bottom Sheets, Pagers, Etc.

Many apps use these sorts of UI constructs. It may not be essential that they be handled via a navigation solution — you might be able to model them as being “internal implementation” of a screen, for example. But, it would be good to get a sense of what patterns are established, if any, for a particular navigation solution to tie into these kinds of UI constructs. For example, if you need to able to not only navigate to a screen, but to a particular tab or page within that screen, it would be nice if the navigation solution supported that. Perhaps not essential, but nice.

And, for some of these UI constructs, you might be seeking to have multiple back stacks. For example, you might want to have it so that back navigation within a tab takes you to previous content within that tab, rather than going back to other tabs that the user previously visited. Support for multiple back stacks seems to be a bit of an advanced feature, so if this is important to you, see what candidate navigation solutions offer.

Deeplinks are popular. Here, by “deeplink”, I not only mean situations where a destination is triggered from outside of the app, such as from a link on a Web page. I also mean cases where a destination is determined at runtime based on data from an outside source, such as a server-driven “tip of the day” card that steers users to specific screens within the app.

If you think that you will need such things, it will be helpful if your navigation solution supports them directly. That support may not be required — just as your other app code can navigate to destinations, your “oh, hey, I got a deeplink” code can navigate to destinations. However, a navigation solution may simplify that, particularly for cases where the deeplink is from outside of the app and you need to decide what to do with the already-running app and its existing back stack.

When evaluating deeplink support, one criteria that I will strongly suggest is: deeplinks should be opt-in. Not every screen in your app should be directly reachable by some outside party just by being tied into some navigation system — that can lead to some security problems.

Also, consider how data in the deeplink will get mapped to your arguments (at least for routes that take arguments). Some navigation solutions will try to handle that automatically for you, but be wary of solutions that use deeplinks as an excuse to be weak on type safety. Ideally, there should be an unambiguous way to convert pieces of a deeplink (e.g., path segments, query parameters) to navigation arguments, but in a way that limits any “stringly typed” logic to deeplinks themselves and does not break type safety elsewhere.


Your designers might call for a specific way to transition from screen X to screen Y, such as a slide, a fade, a slide-and-fade, a fireworks-style explosion destroying X with Y appearing behind it, etc. Ideally, the navigation solution would handle those sorts of transitions, particularly if you need to control the back-navigation transition as well (e.g., the exploded fireworks somehow reassembling themselves into a screen, because that sounds like fun).

Development Considerations

Does the library have clear documentation? Does it seem to be maintained? Does it have a clear way of getting support? Does it have a license that is compatible with your project? These are all common criteria for any library, and navigation solutions are no exception.

Beyond that, navigation solutions have a few specific things that you might want to consider, such as:

  • How easily can you support navigation where the destinations might reside in different modules? Particularly for projects that go with a “feature module” development model, it is likely that you need a screen in module A to be able to navigate to a screen in module B.

  • Are there clear patterns for using @Preview? In principle, a navigation solution should not get in the way of using @Preview for screen-level composables, but it would be painful if it did.

  • Does the solution work for development targets beyond Android? Perhaps you are not planning on Compose for Desktop or Compose for Web or Compose for iOS or Compose for Consoles. If you are, you are going to want to consider if and how navigation ties into your Kotlin/Multiplatform ambitions.

This is not a complete list — if there are things that you think are fairly popular that I missed, reach out!

Jan 22, 2022

Compose for Wear: CurvedRow() and CurvedText()

Compose UI is not just for phones, tablets, foldables, notebooks, and desktops. Compose UI is for watches as well, via the Compose for Wear set of libraries.

(Google calls it “Wear Compose” on that page, but that just makes me think “Wear Compose? There! There Compose!”).

(and, yes, I’m old)

Compose for Wear has a bunch of composables designed for the watch experience. In particular, Compose for Wear has support for having content curve to match the edges of a round Wear OS device.

The Compose for Wear edition of Scaffold() has a timeText parameter. This is a slot API, taking a composable as a value, where typically you will see that composable delegate purely to TimeText(). That gives you the current time across the top of the watch screen, including curving that time on round screens:

TimeText() on a Round Watch

The implementation of TimeText() uses CurvedRow() and CurvedText() to accomplish this, if the code is running on a round device. Otherwise, it uses the normal Row() and Text() composables,

TimeText() is a bit overblown, particularly for a blog post, so this sample project has a SimpleTimeText() composable with a subset of the functionality:

fun SimpleTimeText(
    modifier: Modifier = Modifier,
    timeSource: TimeSource = TimeTextDefaults.timeSource(TimeTextDefaults.timeFormat()),
    timeTextStyle: TextStyle = TimeTextDefaults.timeTextStyle(),
    contentPadding: PaddingValues = PaddingValues(4.dp)
) {
    val timeText = timeSource.currentTime

    if (LocalConfiguration.current.isScreenRound) {
        CurvedRow(modifier.padding(contentPadding)) {
                text = timeText,
                style = CurvedTextStyle(timeTextStyle)
    } else {
            modifier = modifier
            verticalAlignment = Alignment.Top,
            horizontalArrangement = Arrangement.Center
        ) {
                text = timeText,
                style = timeTextStyle,

We can determine whether or not the screen is round from the isScreenRound property on the Configuration, which we get via LocalConfiguration.current. If the screen is round, we display the current time in a CurvedText() and wrap that in a CurvedRow(). CurvedText() knows how to have the letters of the text follow the curve of the screen, and CurvedRow() knows how to have child composables follow the curve of the screen.

The timeText slot parameter in Scaffold() puts the time at the top of the screen by default. That position is controlled by the anchor parameter to CurvedRow(), where the default anchor is 270f. anchor is measured in degrees, and 270f is the value for the top of the screen (probably for historical reasons).

SampleRow() in that sample project lets us display multiple separate strings via individual CurvedText() composables, in a CurvedRow() with a custom anchor value:

private fun SampleRow(anchor: Float, modifier: Modifier, vararg textBits: String) {
        modifier = modifier.padding(4.dp),
        anchor = anchor
    ) {
        textBits.forEach { CurvedText(it, modifier = Modifier.padding(end = 8.dp)) }

SampleRow() accepts a Modifier and tailors it to add a bit of padding to the CurvedRow().

We can then use SampleRow() to display text in other positions on the screen:

fun MainScreen() {
        timeText = {
        content = {
            Box(modifier = Modifier.fillMaxSize(), contentAlignment = Alignment.Center) {
                Text(text = "Hello, world!")

                SampleRow(anchor = 180f, modifier = Modifier.align(Alignment.CenterStart), "one", "two", "three")
                SampleRow(anchor = 0f, modifier = Modifier.align(Alignment.CenterEnd), "uno", "dos", "tres")
                SampleRow(anchor = 90f, modifier = Modifier.align(Alignment.BottomCenter), "eins", "zwei", "drei")

An anchor of 0f is the end edge of the screen, 90f is the bottom, and 180f is the start edge. Note that we also use align() to control the positioning within the Box(), with values that line up with our chosen anchor values.

The result is that we have text on all four edges, plus a centered “Hello, world!”:

Sample Compose UI on a Round Watch

CurvedRow() does not handle consecutive bits of CurvedText() all that well — ideally, use a single CurvedText() with the combined text. However, CurvedRow() is not limited to CurvedText(), and I hope to explore that more in a future blog post.

Jan 17, 2022

Older Posts