After the August security update rolled out for the Nokia 6.1 Plus, users noticed that a useful feature was removed: the ability to hide the notch. HMD Global has promised to bring back the feature in an update, but the reason given for the removal of the feature spurred many users on Reddit and several news outlets to speculate that the notch hiding feature was removed due to violating guidelines in the Android One program. This is untrue, however. First, let’s recap the events as we know them.
Nokia 6.1 Plus and the Notch Hiding feature
The Nokia 6.1 Plus, like many smartphones these days, has a display notch that holds the status bar and allows app content to be extended into the notch area. To appease users who don’t like seeing app content extend into the notch area, many device makers add a notch hiding feature that forces the notch area to be darkened. For example, here’s the notch hiding feature on my OnePlus 6.
Before the August security patch update, the Nokia 6.1 Plus also had a notch hiding feature. However, it was removed in the update with no explanation. Users quickly took to the official support forum to complain, and in a now-deleted post (archive via AndroidAuthority), a moderator said that HMD Global removed the feature “as per Google requirement.” Users took this explanation and began to speculate that the notch hiding feature was removed due to violating the guidelines of the Android One program.
As a reminder, the Android One program was announced back in 2014 as a way for users in emerging markets to experience stock Android without having to spend a lot of money. Android One smartphones are now available from many different smartphone manufacturers in many different countries, and HMD Global has been one of the program’s biggest supporters. By agreeing to launch a smartphone under the Android One program, the device maker agrees to do the following:
- Release monthly security patch updates for three years.
- Release Android OS updates for two years.
- Ship the device with the stock Android interface and support for Google services.
Thus, devices like the Motorola One, LG G7 One, and Nokia 6.1 Plus ship with software that’s close to what you’ll find on the Google Pixel. Because there isn’t a notch hiding feature in stock Android and the support forum post said the notch hiding feature was removed due to a Google requirement, many users assumed that the feature wasn’t allowed for Android One smartphones. Those concerns should have been dispelled when Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer at HMD Global, announced that the Nokia 6.1 Plus will receive the notch hiding feature in a future update. However, there are still plenty of users who believe the Android One program is at fault.
Just to close the "notch gate", we will enable setting to black out notch on the Nokia 6.1 Plus.
Have a great & relaxing weekend everyone! #nokiamobile
— Juho Sarvikas (@sarvikas) September 7, 2018
We reached out to Google to see if they could offer a statement on the situation. While Google was unable to offer a comment on what exactly happened with the Nokia 6.1 Plus, a Google spokesperson confirmed to us that the Android One program does NOT prevent device makers from adding a notch hiding feature. Furthermore, there is NO Google requirement that prevents device makers from adding such a feature. There are cases where Google may ask device makers to adjust the implementation of their software features, however. This may happen if a feature interferes with application compatibility, causing an app to not work as the developer intended. All such cases are covered under Google’s Android compatibility requirements, which has no mention of a notch hiding feature.
It’s unclear why the feature was removed from the Nokia 6.1 Plus. HMD Global hasn’t offered an explanation after the post was deleted from the support forum and Google declined to comment on this particular case, but at least we know there’s no hidden requirement in the Android One program that bars device makers from adding a notch hiding feature.