Google disables rogue task managers and RAM-hogging apps in Android 14
There have been apps claiming to speed up your phone since the Play Store was still called the Android Market, and most of them are snake oil. Whether they say they’ll increase RAM, speed up performance, or make breakfast, they’re usually only shutting down background processes at best, and this practice actually does more harm than good. Thankfully, Google is finally taking a hard line against these rogue apps in Android 14.
Esper Mishaal Rahman reports that Google is changing a key API used by task-killing apps. Most of these apps use the KILL_BACKGROUND_PROCESSES permission to call a system function that kills all background apps on the phone. This frees up RAM momentarily and has a fleeting effect on CPU load, but Android handles background processes automatically, so most stopped processes will simply restart. Rebooting puts more strain on system resources because the background tasks performed by the killed applications have to be restarted.
In Android 14, when an app calls this function, it is now only allowed to kill its own background processes. Even if the app targets an older version of Android and sends the specific package name of the app to be killed, it will have no effect. In fact, now only system apps with this permission can kill all other apps except themselves.
Android automatically manages the memory used by applications
This API change was already present in Android 14 DP1, but documentation for the change was only made available with DP2. In the documentation, Google states outright that “It is not possible for a third-party application to improve the memory, performance, or thermal management of an Android device.” He notes that “Android is designed to keep cached apps in the background and automatically kill them when the system needs memory,” and says that developers of task-killing apps “need to make sure the app meets the Google Play says it’s a misleading policy.”
Google lays down the punchline effectively, and it’s nice to see the company not mince words when discussing 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 lead to a drastic reduction in performance-enhancing apps. In the meantime, if your phone is running slow, you might want to check out some tips to speed up Android performance.