Public shaming: Android 4.3 warns you about “unkillable” apps with persistent notifications

July 30, 2013
    As detailed by a Google engineer, Android 4.3 shows persistent notifications for all apps that ran in the background even after you close them. The change could prove very annoying for some users.

    samsung galaxy s4 google play edition aa notification shade

    You may know that some Android applications run silently in the background even after you close them. These background apps can’t be stopped without killing their process, so Google normally requires them to display a persistent notification in the shade, so users are aware of this behavior.

    The problem is many app developers don’t want their background running applications to display persistent notifications, simply because users generally prefer to keep their status bars uncluttered. Other devs want to hide their apps, so users don’t know they have a mostly useless process consuming battery in the background.

    According to Google engineer Diane Hackborn, some devs found a workaround to avoid showing notifications, by designing their apps to “abuse” an API, so they will run in the background without triggering a notification.

    Google contemplated force killing these sneaky applications, but there are already too many of them (including some big ones) to do so without compromising the user experience. Google’s engineers therefore decided to simply shame developers that abuse the system by displaying system generated notifications for their silent running apps:

    Originally we were going to solve this by just being better at detecting this kind of malformed notification, and crashing the app like we do on other bad notifications. Unfortunately, there are too many applications doing this for that to be a viable approach. Instead, what we ultimately did in 4.3 is have the system put up its own notification when it detects this so that the user is aware of what is going on and the app doesn't have incentive any more to do this.
    Diane Hackborn, Google

    Starting with Android 4.3, all apps that run silently in the background, often referred as “unkillable” apps, will trigger persistent notifications. The goal is to force developers to either show their own persistent notifications or stop their apps from running in the background.

    The initiative is certainly welcome. While many apps have legitimate reasons to run silently, with the seedier ones, users don’t actually benefit from having the process running in the background. The software just sits there, silently consuming battery and computing resources.

    However, I can understand why some may balk at the idea. For Android 4.3 users, the immediate visible effect of this change will be more persistent notifications. I for one hate them, and I generally don’t use apps that show such notifications, unless I really need them. I think many other Android users feel the same, and in the long term, devs will feel the heat and give up hiding their apps.

    I just wished there was a more user-friendly way to get there, perhaps a way to acknowledge and hide persistent notifications.

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    Comments

    • najiy91

      boring.i hate android allow useless background apps running and eat ram and battery like rats.take microsoft windows for example.they close apps completely.android engineers,please do something!

      • Chris Thomson

        Why are you on Android Authority if you think Android is boring and you hate it?

        • najiy91

          to voice out.and send out suggestion to improve android.i love android.but,you said like you are not living in a democracy country.cheers(“,)

          • Rooney-

            Oh you love android,but still voice aganist it!

            • SeraZR™

              makes sense doesn’t it ;) :P

            • Rooney-

              Yep:)

            • najiy91

              to voice out does not mean hate.did i mock android?no,i just suggest that android engineers should fix their running non important apps problem. Thats all. why are you cannot differentiate between building/positive critism and negative ones.

            • Rooney-

              Did i say that you dislike android and your are bashing it?

            • najiy91

              ok.nice to debate with you.peace man(“,)

            • Rooney-

              Agreed!

            • najiy91

              live democracy a little will you?long live android!cheers man(“,)

            • Rooney-

              I am from india!

      • thekeelo_g

        You can easily stop apps from running in the background if it’s a big deal to you. Settings>Developer options>Advanced>Background process limit>No background processes.

        There. Problem solved.

    • Fantastico

      Android is a true multitasking OS. These apps should be allowed to run in the background if their developers want them to. Google is basically dumbing down Android here.

      • http://blog.jalcine.me/ Jacky Alcine

        Notifications should be pushed when they come; they shouldn’t be long-polling a server and killing battery.. THAT’s a dumbed down developer.

        • Fantastico

          Then it’s no better than iOS (push notifications, sending apps to sleep, etc). Full multitasking is at the heart of Android.

          • http://blog.jalcine.me/ Jacky Alcine

            Yeah okay. When your phone’s clocking 150% CPU usage and explodes in your ears, explain to me whose idea it was again.

            • Fantastico

              I dunno. Samsung’s?

      • http://AndroidAuthority.com/ Bogdan Petrovan

        Google lets them run in the background, but they need to tell users about it. Nobody is forbidden anything.

        • najiy91

          telling users only is not enough.android engineers must do something to force stop non important apps.

          • Chris Thomson

            And who dictates what an ‘important’ app is?

            • najiy91

              what i meant is other than system apps such as facebook,games and others.cheers(“,)

            • EvenInTheDarkestHour

              I’m not a software developer…. but my guess would be, outside of elements that allow the os itself to run properly, that the user can decide what needs to run continuously on her/his device. And, if the open or load time of a particular app is a few moments longer due to being put to sleep, so be it.

            • master5hake

              There are so many apps that I rarely use that are running in the background. The user of the device should be able to determine which apps run in the background (apps that are not necessary for the system to run). I don’t understand why apps that I use maybe one or twice a month need to run in the background. At the very least apps should run in the background based on the amount that the user uses them.

            • David Kinder

              Give the user the choice, let them decide what runs and what doesn’t. Just notify them of it once with an option to allow in the future or not. Also a setting somewhere where you can change your mind later.

        • Fantastico

          Lots of stuff on my Vista PC runs in the background. But MS didn’t decide to frustrate users by letting them know about it non-stop. I chose Android for its excellent multi-tasking abilities. Now Google is dumbing down the OS by restricting what apps can run in the background through annoying notifications, and by forcing developers to make apps more restricted. If I want a baby phone, I’ll get a fruit phone or a WP.

          • http://AndroidAuthority.com/ Bogdan Petrovan

            Then root and rom and go on your way.

            • El Presidente

              Damn rights…..root it and forget it….

      • VicMatson

        No, it’s if users want them to! Why let developers abuse us when we have a mind of our own? Are you a developer?

      • SeraZR™

        and the battery life which will be affected?
        i guess you’re running your phone with solar panels -_-’

    • Balraj

      It’s cool
      Now we get to know who screws with our phone’s battery life
      Prob starts, when we still need the app & can’t do anything about persistent notification !!!

      • El Presidente

        I rooted my Galaxy Mega 6.3 and installed “Greenyfy”. Detected apps like Face book and such and killed it…..

        • Balraj

          Oh what if you don’t want to route !!!

    • lalala

      i noticed it.i purposely hide it all the while now i cant grrr.like those screen filters and other usefull apps.

    • najiy91

      just want to help,there is an app at play store-Force Stop Chain-
      it maybe not full auto force stop,but it helps.

    • Wibbly Wobbly

      The persistent notifications are not a problem in themselves. The problem is that they overwhelm the notification system. They need to be moved away from the non-persistent notifications. There is no UX benefit to having the presence of the persistent notifications “in your face” permanently once you’ve seen them once. They get in the way when you want to see the notification from your calendar, every email, every txt etc. Persistent notifications need to be in an alternate notification shade, or some other alternative.

      • http://AndroidAuthority.com/ Bogdan Petrovan

        I agree. Make them collapsable.

    • sourabh

      Yay,
      facebook will be forced to update their app so as not to run in the background

      • najiy91

        No need joking.They can do it.

    • CRiTiCaL_FLuX

      They should at least allow you to acknowledge and dismiss the notification. I want to use the “keep in memory” option on Apex Launcher but the persistent notification is very annoying.

    • Biavela

      I wonder how many Google Play Music notifications will i get…

    • doode

      The solution to this problem is clear. Root….install Greenify…..buy donation version which will allow to stop even Google apps from doing what they’re calling other devs out on(I personally don’t need or want Google Play running in the background constantly Google!)…..PROFIT!!!!!

    • Sandeep Nadella

      Now it becomes clear about the battery of a phone. We can now directly blame the developers or the manufacturers precisely………….:p

    • PeterBlood

      Not a bug but a “feature.” Google is rumored to be drop kicking Android out into Open Source and then the ride will get really interesting. So not something the regular consumer will want to be a part of. Apple stands to benefit tremendously.

    • David Kinder

      I would love the ability to choose wether an persistent apps notification is displayed or not. I always have 5 in my notification area at all times because apps I love require them. But I don’t need to always know that Tasker is still running, just notify me if i closes for some reason. Same goes for pebble. Just pop up a notification if i lose connection or the app closes.

    • Aston Martin

      Yea that is only in the 4.3 OTA but if you are running a custom rom of 4.3 you won’t have that I’m running Samsung Epic 4G Stable CM 10.1.2 7/11/13 Or I could run a Nightly CM 10.1 7/30/13

      • Mogen

        I’m running “SlimBean” 4.3 and this is also bugging me, so thats not true!
        Since you are running CM10.1 your running 4.2, but you knew that right?

    • FES

      PieControl shamed

    • Thomas Wong

      this is for unkillable processes, not services?

    • Shawn

      The problem is that Google is still leaving the app control in the hands of the Developers instead of providing a clean interface for the user to manage the process that run automatically. Facebook is the worst and many cell providers install it automatically and there is no way of keeping it from updating in the background.

      • Jsilvermist

        Look up a program called Greenify

    • Ray

      This is excellent news. As 4.3 makes it’s way out to more devices, there are going to be a lot more negative reviews appearing on Google Play, which will hopefully kick-start developers into correcting this issue with their app. If they’re smart, they will already be working on fixes.

      Hopefully this is the prompt that Facebook also needs to fix their memory hogging, resource hungry, battery draining pile of junk app.

    • sarah

      what is the point of unchecking show notification if it comes right back after a while?!?!?! F THIS.

    • Ivan Alfaro

      The idea is a good one, but they are pretty annoying. As I use Norton, it is quite bad as it clutters my notification bar.

    • srewobwj

      This behaviour is driving me crazy! I know eSet Mobile Security and Antivirus is running in the background, but I don’t need an icon in the notification bar to tell me that. No matter what I do, that pesky icon returns. It’s just clutter, in my opinion.

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