Yesterday, a mix of people who own Google Pixel phones and other devices with Android 9 Pie that the Battery Saver feature of the software was turned on – apparently completely by itself. Strangely enough, this happened when the phones were almost fully charged, not when the battery was nearly empty. As reported by Android police, initially it was assumed that this was a small mistake in the latest version of Android, which was released a few weeks ago. Some users thought they might have turned on Battery Saver without realizing it.
But it was actually Google that was wrong.
The company posted a message on Reddit last night with the confirmation of "an internal experiment to test battery-saving features that have been unintentionally rolled out for more users than intended." So Google had remotely – and by mistake – changed a phone setting for a bunch of real computers customers. Several executives at The edge to experience the problem. "We have now reset the battery saving settings to the default values, please configure as desired," the Pixel team wrote to Reddit before apologizing for the error.
However, this was not only limited to Pixel phones; Devices such as the Essential Phone, OnePlus 6, Nokia handsets and others with Pie (even in beta form) enable Battery Saver without any action from a user. According to Google, Battery Saver, if active,
- Stop updating content from apps until you open them
- Stops the use of location services when the screen is off
- Prevents apps from doing things in the background
- Delays some notifications
So that may have caused some frustration for users who did not even know it was on.
Both Apple and Google have emergency tools to force updates or make other changes to iOS and Android, respectively. It is a necessary option to have user safety and security, and it is not a new one. As early as 2008, Steve Jobs confirmed that Apple had a kill switch option for malicious apps; he told The Wall Street Journal "Hopefully we will never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have the lever to pull." But it is the silent and invasive nature of Google's fault that bothers people.
You'd hope that there would be more walls between internal Android tests at Google and the Android operating system that customers use on their personal devices every day.