[Update: Should arrive in Android 12L instead] Android 13 may add a toggle to disable Android’s new background app limitations

[Update: Should arrive in Android 12L instead] Android 13 may add a toggle to disable Android’s new background app limitations

Update 1 (12/15/2021 @ 07:10 ET): It looks like the new toggle to disable Phantom Processes will be shipped with Android 12L. Scroll to the bottom for more information. The article as published on December 14, 2021, is preserved below.

Android 12 is a massive update, bringing a host of changes, ranging from the biggest visual overhaul we have seen since Android 5.0 to enhancements like privacy indicators and a new Privacy Dashboard. While most of these changes are welcome, the newest Android version also introduces some rather controversial changes. One such change is the introduction of a pretty aggressive background process killer called “Phantom Processes.” Last month, we reported how the PhantomProcessKiller can run havoc on apps like Termux. But looks like Google will let users disable this arbitrary background app policy in a future Android version.


As spotted by Mishaal Rahman, Google has submitted a patch to AOSP that adds a toggle in Developer Options to turn off the Phantom Process monitoring.

For the uninitiated, the PhantomProcesskiller is a new mechanism in Android 12 that kills forked child processes started by apps if they’re using excessive CPU while their parent app processes are also in the background. Moreover, the change only allows up to 32 child processes, thus greatly limiting the number of operations an app can complete in the background. But it looks like Google will add a new option to turn off the Phantom Process Killer in a future Android version — likely Android 13.

The description for the patch reads:

Add settings to toggle the phantom process monitoring in dev options

For power users, the monitoring on phantom processes could be turned
off from the Settings->Developer Options->Feature flags.

Developers and power users will be able to disable Phantom Processes by navigating to Settings > Developer Settings > Feature flags. Once disabled, forked child processes that use too much CPU won’t be killed nor they will be subject to the 32 child process limit. However, this exemption will only apply to child processes and not to main app processes.

The toggle to turn off Phantom Process monitoring will likely be added in Android 13. Google could also add the option in Android 12L, a feature drop for Android 12 designed specifically for foldable, tablets, and large-screen devices.

Update: Commit has been merged

According to Googler Jing Ji, the commit to add a toggle in Developer Options for disabling Phantom Processing has been merged, and “it should be able to make into Android 12L.”

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Kishan Vyas
Kishan Vyas

A loyal Android user since Android 2.1 Eclair. Direct inquiries to [email protected]

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