Google tests a new background suspension feature in Android 11 that could improve battery life

Google tests a new background suspension feature in Android 11 that could improve battery life

Unless you have a considerable amount of RAM on your Android smartphone (some Android phones are coming out today with up to 16 GB of RAM, an amount that would’ve been unthinkable 4 or 5 years ago), you might have found that multitasking on Android can sometimes be a less than stellar experience. Efforts are made with almost every major Android release to try and fix this. But you still need a lot of resources: using a smartphone with 4 GB of RAM in 2020 can get pretty limiting, and 2 GB is only reserved for the absolute low-end of the spectrum. Sometimes it also comes down to a choice between battery life or multitasking, though, as apps running in the background can hog battery heavily. In an attempt to improve battery life, Google is testing a new feature on Android 11.

This feature allows users to freeze apps while they’re cached, preventing their execution and improving battery life considerably as frozen apps won’t use any CPU cycles. We’ve actually spotted this feature a while back and gave it some coverage in our source code analysis. Back then, the feature wasn’t live for anyone: we briefly spotted it in Android 11 Beta 2, and thanks to the source code, we got to know a little about how it was supposed to work, but we could not actually enable it.

From the source code, we can see that the feature is intended to “freeze apps when cached and unfreeze them once removed from the cache or killed. Frozen apps won’t use any CPU cycles, reducing power consumption for misbehaving processes which might attempt to run while cached.”

Now, however, the feature was spotted by a user on Reddit. Not only it was activated, but the feature seemed to be enabled by default, as the post guided people to disable it in order to get better multitasking performance. The post author was using a Pixel 3 on Android 11. Our editor-in-chief, Mishaal Rahman, also independently confirmed that the feature started showing up on his Pixel 4.

This feature could improve battery life by preventing cached apps from executing, but it also means that it’ll take longer to re-open apps you just closed if this feature kills them. Depending on what you prefer, you need to take a decision on whether you want this feature enabled or disabled.

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Arol Wright
Arol Wright

Diehard technology enthusiast, and an Android purist by nature. While I have a soft spot for smartphones, I'm deeply interested in everything techy, be it PCs, gaming consoles, gadgets, you name it. Please direct all inquiries/tips to [email protected]