Not so long ago we heard about an intriguing feature that looks to be coming to Android 12, namely app hibernation. An initial mention of it in Android code suggested that the feature would allow you to put apps that aren’t being used into a state of hibernation, which would optimize their storage use, but details of the feature were light, until now.
While there are still a lot of unanswered questions, a few details have been seen in new Android code changes, spotted by Mishaal Rahman (editor-in-chief of XDA Developers).
The code mentions that if an app is hibernated for a single user (on a multi-user device) then its cache will simply be cleared, thereby freeing up a bit of storage. But there will also be ‘package-level hibernation’, which hibernates the app for all users, and this will go further.
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So the first details of Android's app hibernation feature are here. If an app is hibernated for a single user, the system will clear cache. Google will add more for package-level hibernation (app is hibernated for all users).Source: https://t.co/q16Md5dKNuH/T @luca020400 https://t.co/UC4JEoJI7f pic.twitter.com/9bqq1RjeBrJanuary 15, 2021
Unfortunately, we’re still unclear on the ways in which it will go further. It could be that the app will have all of its data removed and essentially be deleted from the device, albeit perhaps with its icon remaining so you can redownload it with a tap.
Or maybe it will fully freeze all the app’s processes as well as clearing the cache, so there’s no chance of it draining battery in the background.
That’s all just speculation for now though, and we also don’t yet know what the process for an app entering hibernation would be – whether it would happen automatically for apps that have gone unused for a long time, or whether users would have to manually choose to hibernate apps.
It’s a potentially exciting and useful feature though, particularly if you have a bunch of apps on your phone that don’t get much use but that you’re reluctant to uninstall.
Hopefully we’ll learn more soon, as while Android 12 probably won’t launch in finished form until September, the first developer preview could land in February based on past form.
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.