The Galaxy S7 has a hidden feature: native DPI scaling

A hidden feature of the Android N Developer Preview was recently discovered, and brings with it a simple, yet powerful change: native DPI scaling. In the past, Samsung’s phones didn’t have good default DPI settings, but that changes with the Galaxy S7 line.

DPI, or dots-per-inch, is a measurement of printing or video dot density. The most common way to measure it is how many individual dots, or pixels, can fit in a line of one inch. This is called pixels-per-inch. Although PPI and DPI are different, for our purposes we can comfortably interchange them. High DPI means your pictures can be printed in large sizes without losing image quality.

On smartphone screens, the UI elements that the developer uses should have a high DPI, since phones are coming out with a higher PPI count each year. The problem that UI designers have, whether you’re working on a website or smartphone app, is making sure the UI elements you use look great on a variety of screen sizes and resolutions.

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Introducing .DisplayScalingActivity

It’s hard to find this menu in Samsung’s TouchWiz skin, but users of Nova will be able to find it with ease. Here are the steps:

  • Download Nova if you don’t already have it. You don’t need to set it as default, but launch it to access the Nova home screen.
  • Go to the Widget Section by long-pressing on the home screen and selecting Widgets. Select the Activities widget and put it on the home screen.
  • Open Activities, scroll down to Settings and choose .DisplayScalingActivity, which will create a new icon on your home screen. Opening the menu will give you a choice of Standard or Condensed. Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll be asked to reboot (don’t worry, this is normal) and the new settings will then be set.

Samsung’s Galaxy S7 has a screen resolution of 2560 x 1440, at 535 PPI. As noted above, this means that a single line of 535 pixels can fit within one inch. The Standard DPI on the S7 is 640 while the Condensed version is around 540. A difference of 100 may not sound like much at first, but it’s the difference between UI elements that cram a bunch of information into a little space (condensed), or letting the elements breathe by making use of active white space and having a sense of flow in the display of information (standard).

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So what does this have to do with Android N?

It appears that Google may be taking a page out of Samsung’s eBook. DPI scaling is no longer a hidden feature, whether in TouchWiz or elsewhere. It’s not just DPI either. Some of the new features of Android N, like multitasking cards and multi-window quick toggles in the notification shade, first appeared in Samsung’s phones. What do you think? For our power user readers, are you excited about this feature?

Source: XDA Developers

 

 

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