App hibernation added to Android 12 as a way to free up space from unused apps
Google’s I/O 2021 main keynote wrapped up yesterday, and we got to know several exciting news about Android and the Android ecosystem itself. We had our first glance at Android 12 and its all-new Material You design language, which is one of the biggest UI revamps to come to Android in several years. The main philosophy behind Google’s new UI guidelines is customizability and making your phone really your own—which, in a way, also encompasses the philosophy behind Android. But Android 12 is not just a pretty face. Several features, both user-visible and under the hood, are coming to the platform starting with Android 12. And one of them is app hibernation.
App hibernation was announced today together with other privacy features, and it’s a feature that we previously managed to spot in AOSP code changes, and we even managed to turn it on ourselves in previous builds of Android 12. But for the sake of context, app hibernation allows you to put apps into a “hibernation” state if they’re not actively being used. Apps that are put into a hibernated status will optimize their storage usage, and their permissions will be revoked. Apps that are not used for several months will be put into this “hibernation” state, although users can quickly toggle this feature on and off if they don’t want their unused apps to go into hibernation. To get an app out of hibernation, you just need to open it like normal.
Although Google says the feature is now available in Android 12 Beta 1, you’ll have to either wait months for an app to actually go into hibernation or use shell commands to manually put an app into hibernation mode in your device. We used shell commands to put the Speedtest app into hibernation and get the screenshots we’re showing above. If you want to try it out by yourself, however, the commands you need to test are mentioned on the App Hibernation section on the Android Developers website.