Samsung’s Android 11 update further restricts background apps

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It’s no secret that many manufacturers alter Android’s original behavior to enhance battery life. These changes are based on more aggressive management with apps that run in the background, which can sometimes lead to problems with certain apps that stop working when not in use. Traditionally, Chinese manufacturers have been the most abused of these aggressive practices, and the issue has been discussed numerous times. This problem was the most voted in the AMA (Ask Me Anything) session carried out by Google’s Android 11 development team, and the company promised to force manufacturers to be more transparent about the restrictions that apply to apps in background. We are updating the Compatibility Definition Document (CDD) for Android 11 to ensure that device manufacturers alert users of application restrictions in a timely manner. This not only helps educate users on what is happening with their applications, but also allows users to override the restriction if they wish. However, it does not appear that manufacturers are following Google’s recommendations as, far from improving, the problem is getting worse in some manufacturers. Without going any further, according to the DontKillMyApp website, Samsung’s Android 11 update seems to have tightened the restrictions. According to a developer whose Galaxy S10e has been updated to the latest version of Android, Samsung has further restricted wake-locks and broadcast messages. To prove it, he has tested an app that collects accelerometer data and saves it with a timestamp. With the Android 11 update, when the device is unplugged and the screen is turned off, after 3 minutes, the app stops receiving accelerometer data. After a few minutes, if the screen is turned on, the app resumes collecting the data (80 seconds of data in a short burst), but there is a big gap between the data, and there are intermittent values ​​out of order (i.e. , timestamps are not always monotonically increasing). Looking at the device logs, it is clear that at the exact moment the app stopped receiving data, the power manager service decided to “freeze” the app, disabling its wakelock. The app “unfreezes” again after plugging in the USB cable. This is not only a problem for users, but also for developers whose apps run tasks in the background. The only way for developers to avoid this problem is to disable Android battery optimization. However, this action is generally prohibited in Google Play policy and may cause the application to be removed from Google Play. Normally users can manually restrict battery optimizations for certain apps but this is an option that not all users know about or understand its effects.

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