Android 14 will crack down on task killers and other fake “Speed ​​Booster” apps

If your phone is a bit sluggish and you can’t afford an upgrade, it’s tempting to hit the Play Store and install one of the many apps that claim to speed up your device.

But here’s the thing: they don’t work. We’ve known that since the early days of Android, but these apps are still being downloaded millions of times.

Now, finally, the end could be in sight. A new report suggests that Android 14 will place serious restrictions on what these apps can do, while at the same time Google plans to crack down on apps that make misleading claims.

Android 14 is set to kill task killers

In a blog post at Esper, renowned Android expert Mishaal Rahman has dug into the Android 14 Developer Preview and found signs that the next version of the operating system will limit the capabilities of task killers and other so-called speed boosters.

The basic idea is that apps that have the KILL_BACKGROUND_PROCESSES permission are restricted in how they can use the ActivityManager.killBackgroundProcesses(String) API. It all sounds very technical, but the names reveal exactly what these things do.

Currently, task killers use this permission and API to shut down all your apps running in the background, claiming that this will speed up your device. In the future, apps will only be able to kill their own background processes.

There is a good reason for this change. While it makes sense that closing apps would improve your phone’s performance and battery life, task killers don’t work (and neither does closing apps manually). Android is already quite capable of managing its resources and closing apps when they are no longer needed.

Job killers can often make things worse. Some apps are designed to run in the background. If you keep shutting them down, they will just reopen and use more resources than if you left them alone.

Google explains this in the documentation Rahman found for the change:

“Android is designed to keep apps cached in the background and kill them automatically when the system needs memory. If your app kills other apps unnecessarily, it can reduce system performance and increase battery consumption by completely restarting those apps later to launch, which takes significantly more resources than resuming an existing cached app.”

It also comes with a hint that the company could start properly enforcing one of its long-standing Play Store policies: “It is not possible for a third-party application to enforce the memory, power, or thermal behavior of an Android device. You must ensure that your app complies with Google Play’s policies against misleading claims.”

Google is cleaning up the Play Store

All of this comes with the caveat that Android 14 is still in development, so there’s no guarantee that this change will make it to the final release, or that it will have any real effect. But it looks like Google is making an effort to clean up one of the more sketchy parts of the Play Store.

And if you’re currently using any of these apps, you know what to do: uninstall it immediately, because it won’t help.

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