Google will be much stricter about task killer apps starting with the release of Android 14

Google just hinted that it may start implementing stricter measures against “task killer” apps with the release of Android 14. These apps are designed to force a shutdown of background processes to free up memory and save battery life. However, they can often do more harm than good.

Android already has built-in measures to handle tasks without negatively impacting performance. When apps are killed and restarted, the cache is cleared, which can actually slow down app performance. This is because the cache is what allowed the app to start up faster in the first place by saving images and other data so it doesn’t have to fetch it again from scratch.

Now it looks like these apps will be cracked down hard as Google looks to make restrictions on its “task killer” API (kudos: Esper). Instead of an app being allowed to kill the background processes of other apps, it is only allowed to kill its own background process regardless of its API target level.

This change will certainly be welcome, as users who download and install these task-killing apps and constantly and perhaps unknowingly kill background processes that then automatically restart, don’t realize that there is much more drain on battery life than simply not using them for to begin with.

Google has made it clear that it is not possible for a third-party application to improve the memory, power or thermal behavior of an Android device. In fact, the company has included this very warning in its developer documentation against misleading claims about app performance improvements. This indicates that it will likely start warning about task-killing apps in the near future.

In my opinion, it is critical for anyone using a piece of technology to spend time researching it and learning about it and how it works, rather than just blindly using it. By installing and using apps that play with core system processes, one can end up causing more harm than the benefits they hope for. Understandably, though, task-killing apps have been part of Android phone culture for over a decade, so a false perception of their benefits has been ingrained in all of us until we’re told otherwise.

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