Android 8.1 has a few really handy changes, but one of the handiest isn’t live just yet. Spotted over the weekend, Google appears to be working on a new feature for Android that saves storage space by reducing the size of apps that aren’t active.
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XDA first spotted a portion of code within AOSP which describes this new feature. Essentially, this feature works by counting the number of days an app has been inactive and once a certain number has passed, it “downgrades” that application.
Android marks apps as inactive based on usage, regardless of if it’s running in the foreground or in the background. So, in short, any app that is doing something on your device won’t be affected by this feature.
Once an application has been marked as inactive, it’s run through a tool within Android which optimizes certain files into a ‘bigger’ file that doesn’t take up space in the cache. That’s the English translation anyway. XDA describes it as the following:
In Android 8.1, applications marked “inactive” aren’t run through dexopt, the Android tool that optimizes .dex files to produce an .odex file. As a result, they don’t take up space in the Dalvik compiler’s cache.
If you’re unsure what that means, an XDA user has a handy guide on what those terms mean, but the real-world benefit is that it would mean more usable storage space on your device. Since this is an Android 8.1 feature, it’ll be a while until we see it on any consumer devices, especially since OEMs will have to manually enable it.