It’s finally rolled out to all Pixel phones, but even with that “stable” release, Android 12 feels relatively unfinished. One interesting problem that’s made it into Android 12’s final release sees apps and games force stopped, almost as if they’re crashing, when you change your wallpaper.

This issue, detailed by CommonsWare and noted on Google’s Issue Tracker, sees apps and games force stop and restart when your wallpaper is changed. This is due to Android 12’s new Dynamic Color feature that samples your wallpaper to change the system accent color, which apps can hook into.

However, seemingly to prevent issues with the accent color change, Google made the decision to have Android 12 force apps to restart, making them appear as if they have crashed in the background when the wallpaper is changed. It’s similar to the behavior we see when Android changes from dark theme to light theme and vice versa.

Google noted the change in AOSP, saying:

Activities will be scheduled for restart via the regular life-cycle. This is similar to a configuration change but since ApplicationInfo changes are too low-level we don’t permit apps to opt out.

The biggest issue with this change seems to be that apps cannot opt-out of the forced restart, as they can with the dark/light switch. This means that some apps, games primarily, could see issues as a result. The folks over at XDA said that most games they tried would “crash” if the wallpaper was changed in the background.

Changing your wallpaper while actively playing a game or using another app seems like an unlikely scenario, but this could be an issue with wallpaper apps that automatically swap the wallpaper. Even Google’s default Wallpapers app has this option, and we could certainly see that being a source of frustration.

As it stands today, it does not seem like Google has any plans to change this behavior.

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Ben Schoon

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