Android smartphones to get ‘App Hibernation’ feature: Will it freeze, delete or shift rarely-used apps to the cloud?

Android App Hibernation
App Hibernation is reportedly coming to Android smartphones. Pic credit: Pasi Mämmelä/Pixabay

Android 12 could get a much-needed feature called ‘App Hibernation’. The system-level feature could optimize the Android smartphone’s storage by “taking care” of rarely used apps.

Android 11 is already working on millions of smartphones. But Android 12 is right around the corner. Several eager beta testers could receive the Android 12 developer preview release as early as next month. Along with the new version, Google is bundling several new path-breaking features.

What is App Hibernation for Android smartphones?

Many smartphones routinely have quite a few apps that merely remain installed. In other words, users rarely, if ever, use some of the apps. However, irrespective of the usage frequency, the apps remain on the primary storage of the smartphone.

Be it Google’s Android or Apple iOS, each smartphone operating system needs to deal with cluttered storage. The problem becomes troublesome when dormant apps start taking up high-speed primary storage space.

The rapid reduction of precious storage space on a smartphone forces the smartphone OS creator, the app developer, and the end-user to think of creative solutions. Google, the primary developer of Android OS, has reportedly come up with App Hibernation to address the issue.

The upcoming Android 12 version could introduce a feature that will allow those dormant apps to enter a state of hibernation. A leaked Android Open-Source Project (AOSP) code change suggests that Google is working on a new system-level service that will put idle apps into a “Deep Sleep” state.

This would allow the Android OS to optimize the primary storage space of the smartphone. Needless to add, this feature would benefit users who keep holding on to a lot of dormant and rarely-used apps.

How does Google Android’s App Hibernation feature work?

A Twitter user has indicated that Android’s upcoming App Hibernation feature’s effectiveness would depend on whether it’s enabled for a single user or for all users. If the feature is switched on for a single user, on a multi-user device, App Hibernation will merely clear the app cache for that particular app.

A “To Do” that refers to the App Hibernation feature indicates the platform’s next milestone is to support package-level hibernation that will affect all users. It is not immediately clear how Google plans to achieve the same, and how the multi-user App Hibernation will differ from the single-user setting.

The most obvious but unconfirmed technique could involve clearing all the data and cache of the app. Perhaps the Android OS might remove the app completely from the smartphone.

Whenever the user turns-off the feature, the Android OS could simply reinstall the app. The front-end User Interface for App Hibernation remains a mystery.

It is quite likely that the smartphone’s App Settings page will continue to show the “hibernated” app as still present on the device. Perhaps the icon of the app could also remain visible in the App Tray. But clicking on the same would trigger a notification about the feature being turned on. A prompt to switch the feature off could follow.

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