What just happened? Android’s battery saver mode can be pretty helpful when you’re trying to stop your phone from dying, but users prefer to decide themselves whether to activate it. Late last week, some people using Android 9.0 Pie discovered that the feature had been switched on, even when the handsets were almost fully charged. How did this happen? It turns out that Google accidentally changed the settings remotely.
Battery saver mode can conserve a phone's power by preventing apps from working in the background, turning off location services, and delaying notifications. Many Android users who discovered it was enabled assumed they must have done it themselves by accident, but Google’s Pixel team revealed the cause on Reddit. It seems that this was an “an internal experiment to test battery saving features that was mistakenly rolled out to more users than intended.”
The Reddit post apologized for the error, adding that: “We have now rolled battery saver settings back to default. Please configure to your liking.”
In addition to affecting Pixel phones, owners of the other devices, including the OnePlus 6, Essential Phone, and Nokia 7+ running Android Pie or the beta also found battery saving mode had been enabled.
We know that Google and Apple can force updates or make changes remotely to iOS and Android, though these are meant to protect users in emergency situations. The fact this was an internal experiment that got pushed out to a number of users by accident is worrying, despite being only a minor change. Unsurprisingly, plenty of people are angry about the incident.