Google made a change in Android 9 to improve battery life; now some app developers are steamed

Google made a change in Android 9 to improve battery life; now some app developers are steamed
Several developers have posted complaints on Google's issue tracker website for Android (via Android Police). The problem is that starting with Android 9 Pie, Google has limited the number of times an app can perform Wi-Fi scans. Such scans are required by certain apps that perform indoor navigation, measure signal strength, analyze Wi-Fi coverage and more. For example, the developers of an app called ElectroSmart posted several complaints. The app measures the strength of different signals near phone users to help them limit their exposure to RF radiation.

Not including system apps, Android 9 Pie limits the number of times an app open in the foreground can be scanned to four times every two minutes. An app in the background is scanned only once every half an hour. On Friday, Google responded to the complaints by saying "Once again, thank you for submitting the feature request. After following up with our product and engineering teams, the feature request will not be considered at this time." In other words, these developers are SOL. However, Google did add that in Android Q, rooted phones will be able to toggle off this throttling. However, considering that the vast majority of Android users don't root their phones (and many have no idea what it means), these developers are not going to get much relief even in the next build of Android.


Last summer, Google responded to the initial posts by saying that it needed to throttle Wi-Fi scanning in order to improve battery life and network performance on Android phones. One post suggested that Google allow users to whitelist certain apps; this would allow them to decide for themselves whether the functionality of a particular app is worth losing some battery life over. That would seem to be the best solution to this issue. After all, as this same post points out, smartphone users are willing to accept losing battery life when a GPS based navigation app is open.

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8 Comments

1. gdawilson

Posts: 299; Member since: Jul 21, 2014

Does anyone seriously need to know their results, of RF radiation, that frequent? If you're that concerned about it, your first scan should tell you if you need to move away from X object causing that radiation

4. Reluctant_Human

Posts: 912; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

Anyone who needs to scan for RF radiation (such as cell techs) have specialized tools that are way more reliable than a phone app.

2. Vokilam

Posts: 1140; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

You know what, this change made by google positively benefits 98% of users, and cons only 2% that care for this more than battery life. I say improvement is a positive one based on majority. It’ll be nice to have this as an option to opt-in or opt-out (same as when Apple or Samsung changes/ removes features). But overall like I said, it improves experience for majority who don’t care about a few apps.

5. XyAzario

Posts: 35; Member since: Mar 15, 2019

I think giving a user an option of how many times to scan would be better. On that note, I feel like we really need another OS, it might not need to be as big as iOS or Android. Not thinking of SailfishOS here as it is more for feature phones. Why do I say this? Google. I kinda felt betrayed when they dumped Huawei, it's an American company which is beholden by their laws.

8. lallolu

Posts: 731; Member since: Sep 18, 2012

It will be the same with anoother OS.

3. Krjal

Posts: 420; Member since: Dec 19, 2013

Definitely needs the option to disable the throttling. Even better if it's per-app. I understand reasons for implementing it but removing options from users is the worst choice.

6. dmigliac

Posts: 1; Member since: May 28, 2019

The problem is that we (ElectroSmart) use the throttling without impacting the battery life. Whitelist certain apps is the solution to avoid bad scanning apps. But Google power is way too strong on our app ecosystem.. And yes many people are interested about RF radiation. Technical and wellbeing related users.

7. tokuzumi

Posts: 1843; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

I'd rather have better battery life

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