Persistent Notifications; No More Hidden Background Tasks!
Android has taken a step forward to further protect their consumers with “persistent notifications”, as many of you may know, lots of Android Apps keep running processes and tasks in the background. This continues even after you apparently ‘terminate’ them by swiping them away in multi tasking mode. And to let the users know which apps are using their previous memory and resources, Google makes background apps display a persistent notification in the notification shade, as long as the app is still running in the background.
However, many developers do not want this, either they just don’t want the users’ notification shades to be cluttered up, or they simply don’t want the users to know that their apps and useless processes are secretly depleting the phone’s resources. Either way, according to Google Engineer, Daine Hackborn, these developers have found a way around this, and they ‘Abuse’ an API into keeping their apps running, without displaying a persistent notification. One of the most popular example of such an app, is none other than the official Facebook App.
For a while, Google considered implementing a system that force killed the games running in the background, if they don’t display a persistent notification, however, the reason they didn’t take this route is that force killing these apps would negatively affect the user experience, and so, Google has taken another approach.
Starting from Android 4.3, Google will be implementing a system designed to ‘Shame’ the developers with hidden background Apps. Android 4.3 will automatically generate persistent notifications for the Apps that run in the background without displaying one themselves, and according to Google, there will be no way around this.
Here is the official statement from Daine Hackborn:
Originally we were going to solve this by just being better at detecting this kind of malformed notification, and crashing the app like we do on other bad notifications. Unfortunately, there are too many applications doing this for that to be a viable approach. Instead, what we ultimately did in 4.3 is have the system put up its own notification when it detects this so that the user is aware of what is going on and the app doesn’t have incentive any more to do this.
This should hopefully cause developers to either display their own persistent notification, or prevent their App(s) from running in the background altogether.
Personally, I appreciate this ‘for-the-consumer’ move by Google, but, if you are a minimalist, or just someone who likes clean stuff, like me, you wouldn’t appreciate many un-removable notifications in the notification shade.
Perhaps Google should add an option to manually disable specific or all persistent notifications, or have a separate menu or shade for the persistent notifications. Either way, its no secret that the Android hacking community will have a workaround in no time.
What do you think about persistent notifications? Does the fact that hidden apps run in the background bother you? And are you happy with Google’s stance? Or should things remain the way they are? Let us know in the comments below: