For years there have been popular apps that claim to make Android phones faster, but actually just kill background processes en masse which does more harm than good. But with Android 14, Google is finally doing something about it.

“Speed booster” or “task killer” apps are usually designed to remove background apps in an effort to make your phone feel a little faster. It seems to work at a glance, but it’s never a lasting effect. And, really, it just ends up with Android working harder to restart those background processes.

As first highlighted by Mishaal Rahman on Esper, Google is moving to stop these apps from hurting your device.

In Android 14, apps are prevented from killing background processes that are not their own. Google directly explains that apps using the “killBackgroundProcesses” API can no longer “influence the process lifecycle of other apps.” Google already recommends against using this API for this reason, but starting with Android 14, the API will return an error for any attempt to kill processes for another app.

The error reads:

Invalid packageName: com.example.anotherapp

What does this mean for end users? Really, nothing but good things. The bad part of “task killer” apps is that they generally end up killing processes that just need to be restarted by the system later on. That ultimately makes the system work harder and, in turn, also drains the battery.

For the apps that perform this task, this change will effectively break their functionality, as they won’t be able to do what they’re designed to do.

Google also notes in its documentation that “it isn’t possible for a 3rd-party application to improve the memory, power, or thermal behavior of an Android device” and recommends that developers revisit if their app is compliant with Google Play policies around misleading claims. It will certainly be interesting to see if this change results in the end of “speed booster” and “task killer” apps in the Play Store, though we’d assume it will be quite slow given how long it takes new Android versions to gain traction.

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Ben Schoon

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