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Android 15 really doesn't want you to turn off Bluetooth

Bluetooth is used for several important Android features, so Google doesn’t want you to turn it off.

Published onApril 4, 2024

Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority
  • Android 15 will add a new feature that can automatically turn on Bluetooth the day after you’ve disabled it.
  • Your phone’s Bluetooth radio is used for several key Android features, such as Quick Share and Find My Device.
  • Disabling Bluetooth will slightly improve battery, but the trade-off is that your device won’t be able to contribute to Google’s Find My Device network.

Google is finally set to launch its long-awaited Find My Device network in the next couple days. Potentially billions of Android devices will start pinging each other via Bluetooth, creating a massive lost device tracking network that’s on par with or even bigger than Apple’s Find My network. How it works is that participating devices will use Bluetooth to broadcast a beacon that other nearby devices can receive. The broadcasting device’s location is then encrypted by receiving devices and uploaded to Google’s server so that only the owner of the broadcasting device can see its location.

Bluetooth is an absolutely core component of Google’s Find My Device network, so if users who opt into the network disable their device’s Bluetooth radio, the Find My Device network won’t work as intended. Disabling your device’s Bluetooth radio means that not only will your own device be unreachable on the Find My Device network should it lose access to data, but it also means that you won’t be helping other people find their lost devices. Recognizing this dilemma, Google is working on a new feature in Android 15 that essentially lets users pause instead of disable their device’s Bluetooth radio.

An APK teardown helps predict features that may arrive on a service in the future based on work-in-progress code. However, it is possible that such predicted features may not make it to a public release.

In recent preview builds of Android 15, I discovered numerous references to a “Bluetooth auto-on” feature. The feature, as its name implies, can automatically turn on the Bluetooth radio. When this feature is enabled, and the user tries to turn off Bluetooth through the Quick Settings dialog introduced in the recent Android 14 QPR2 update, a toggle to “automatically turn on again tomorrow” may appear. This toggle may be accompanied by text that informs the user that “features like Quick Share, Find My Device, and device location use Bluetooth.”

<string name="turn_on_bluetooth_auto_info">Features like Quick Share, Find My Device, and device location use Bluetooth</string>

<string name="turn_on_bluetooth_auto_tomorrow">Automatically turn on again tomorrow</string>

A similar toggle and text may be found in the settings pages for Bluetooth (Settings > Connected devices > Connection preferences > Bluetooth) and Bluetooth scanning (Settings > Location > Location services > Bluetooth scanning).

<string name="bluetooth_empty_list_bluetooth_off_auto_on_available">When Bluetooth is on, your device can communicate with other nearby Bluetooth devices. Features like Quick Share, Find My Device, and device location use Bluetooth.</string>

<string name="bluetooth_scanning_on_info_message_auto_on_available">"When Bluetooth is on, your device can communicate with other nearby Bluetooth devices. Features like Quick Share, Find My Device, and device location use Bluetooth.Apps and services can still scan for nearby devices at any time, even when Bluetooth is off. This can be used, for example, to improve location-based features and services. You can change this in Bluetooth scanning settings."</string>

<string name="bluetooth_screen_auto_on_title">Automatically turn on again tomorrow</string>

You should be able to ignore the auto-on toggle and disable Bluetooth as usual, though.

Android 15 Bluetooth settings
Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

Code for the Bluetooth auto-on feature has already made its way to AOSP, revealing a bit more information about it. First, only system apps can enable it, so third-party apps won’t be able to toggle your device’s Bluetooth radio without your knowledge. Second, the API isn’t restricted to Android 15, which means it could be available on earlier versions of Android. However, the device has to use AOSP’s Bluetooth stack instead of a custom one. Even so, code comments state that the Bluetooth auto-on feature won’t be supported on all devices.

It’s unclear why the auto-on feature won’t work on all devices, given that the OS can already manually toggle Bluetooth, but that may be why the auto-on toggles didn’t appear for me even when I enabled the feature. The Bluetooth auto-on feature is not live in either Android 15 Developer Preview 2 or Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2.1, but it’s possible it’ll go live in the upcoming Android 15 beta release. We’ll keep an eye out to see if it lands.

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