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Credit: David Imel / Android Authority
  • A new app hibernation feature could be coming to a future version of Android.
  • The feature aims to optimize unused apps for storage, but little else is known about it.

Update: January 19 2021 (1:23 AM ET): It looks like we know a little more about an upcoming App Hibernation feature recently added to the Android Open Source Project. XDA-Developers editor-in-chief Mishaal Rahman reports that an app’s cache will be cleared if it’s put into App Hibernation.

Mishaal Rahman Android app hibernation

There’s no word if more storage clearing measures will form part of the hibernation feature, such as compressing a dormant app. But clearing the cache sounds like a good start, especially as some app caches can balloon to easily account for more storage space than the app itself.

Original article: January 12 2021 (5:57 AM ET): We’re almost due for the Android 12 developer preview, if last year’s timeline is anything to go on. There’s no official word on user-facing features coming to the new Android update, but it looks like Google is working on one mysterious feature.

XDA-Developers reports that several code changes were submitted to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), with these changes referencing a so-called “app hibernation” feature.

“System service that manages app hibernation state, a state apps can enter that means they are not being actively used and can be optimized for storage,” reads an excerpt of a reference, according to the outlet.

What should you expect?

There’s no word on exactly how this feature will work and what app hibernation actually entails aside from storage optimization. It’s also unclear whether the system will handle app hibernation automatically or whether users can select apps to hibernate.

For what it’s worth, some Android OEMs prompt you to uninstall unused apps as part of system optimization functionality. We’ve also seen some manufacturers offer power-related functionality on a per-app basis, so you can restrict specific apps from launching/running in the background. Presumably apps that are hibernated are somehow compressed or cut down in size though (e.g. behaving more like a web app).

We’ve previously seen Google work on features in AOSP only for it to go missing from a subsequent Android release (e.g. desktop mode), so there’s no guarantee that app hibernation will come to Android 12. But we’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for this feature when Android 12 developer previews go live.

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