Apps claiming to speed up your phone have been around since the Play Store was still called Android Market, and most of them are snake oil. Whether they say increase your RAM, speed up performance, or cook your breakfast, they usually just shut down background processes, and this practice actually does more harm than good. Thankfully, Google is finally taking a hard line against these scam apps in Android 14.
Esper’s Mishaal Rahman has reported that Google is changing a key API used by task killer apps. Most of these apps use the KILL_BACKGROUND_PROCESSES permission to call a system function that causes all apps to run in the background on your phone. This temporarily frees up RAM and has a volatile effect on processor load, but Android manages background processes automatically, so most killed processes just restart. The restart puts a heavier load on the system resources as the background tasks performed by the apps that have been killed have to be restarted.
When an app in Android 14 calls this function, the system now only allows it to terminate its own background processes. Even if the app targets an older Android version and sends the specific package name of an app to kill, it has no effect. In fact, it is now only possible for a system app that has this permission to kill an app other than itself.
Android automatically manages the memory used by apps
This API change was already present in Android 14 DP1, but documentation for the change is only now available with DP2. In its documentation, Google bluntly states that “it’s not possible for a third-party application to improve the memory, power, or thermal behavior of an Android device.” It goes on to note that “Android is designed to keep apps cached in the background and kill them automatically when the system needs memory,” and says that developers of task killer apps should “make sure your app meets the Google Play policy against deceptive claims.”
Google is basically laying down the banhammer here, and it’s nice to see the company don’t mince words when addressing the behavior of these sketchy apps. The Play Store blocked more than a million apps for policy violations in 2021 alone, so we hope these changes will lead to a drastic drop in performance-enhancing apps in the future. Meanwhile, if your phone is slow, you may want to check out some real tips to speed up performance on Android.