Google Can Make Changes On Your Phone Remotely

Following a poorly configured internal test, Google has remotely activated the “battery saving” mode on many smartphones running Android Pie. 

On September 13, a curious problem was noticed on smartphones running Android Pie and related OS. Battery saving mode was automatically programmed to start as soon as the battery reaches 99%. A threshold far too high for a mode that limits the performance of smartphones. When noticed, some thought it was a bug on the new version of the OS, thinking it is still unstable. Others wondered if they had activated this mode unconsciously.

pixel 2 battery saver bug explained google all pie smartphone

But do you know that Google can change your smartphone settings remotely? Many users were complaining on Reddit about this act. How Google was able to make the energy saving mode to suddenly activate without reasons and users’ consent is alarming. On Reddit, there are hundreds of complaints testifying to this unusual change from Google.

XDA Developpers have said that Google uses its own apps or Google Play Services to conduct this kind of experimentation. Having been preinstalled on smartphones, these applications have the necessary permission to modify some settings without the user’s concernt. This kind of adjustment must not be taken lightly and it can definitely cause problems for the company.

Of course the fact that the battery saver is activated is not something to worry about, on its own. People are just imagining, with big irritation, the fact that this change is completely not connected to any update and Google can change the settings of any Android smartphone remotely without permissions from the owner.

Comments from Reddit about this:

mtoomey79 said, “Srewed me up pretty majorly – I drive for Lyft and was in the middle of driving a passenger to his requested drop-off. As expected when battery saver is activated, my GPS became unusable, the Lyft app stopped updating and I ended up looking like a fool with a POS phone, who can’t find his way around. Had I known the capability to change a setting on my phone remotely existed, I could’ve triaged things quickly. Yeah yeah yeah, I probably agreed to ToS that agreed to let you do that, but hey, “don’t be evil.

“I’d would be great have a list of settings that can be changed from the mothership – like plain English stuff, not lumped in some ToS everyone wants to breeze through.” 

jtrthehaxsaid said, “This really bothers me enough that this can occur without any notification. I’d like to know how this sort of setting can be pushed without any notifications…” 

manygogosaid said, “Yes!!! Happened twice to me! Saw the official response. Seems kinda freaky that they can activate a feature like that remotely. Think about what else they could do from and on your phone. Freaky!”

Schnibble_Kibs said, “I did not understand why my smartphone was so slow today, after a reboot I noticed that it was in Energy Saving mode. It is also set to be 99% active while I normally set it to 25%.”

raw-reddit added, “it looks like there is no doubt that it’s a server-side setting.” 

Strangely still someone was excited about this occurrence.

n3rdw0psaid said, “It’s good to know that Google has full control over our devices.” 

Google Has Apologized For Changing The Settings Of Android Smartphones Remotely 

Google later came out and put an end to the confusion. In a message on Reddit, the Pixel team apologizes for “an in-house experiment that has spread to more users than expected.”

Google says that it wanted to “test the various functions of battery saving mode” internally. This mode disables location when the smartphone is idle, delays some notifications, and does not necessarily refresh applications running in the background. Conscious of its mistake, the company claims to have “restored the default settings on  the affected smartphones.” In addition to the Pixel, all devices using Android Pie, even in beta, have been affected, such as the OnePlus 6.

Google explained on Reddit that this change in system settings is as a result of an error in a test, and apologizes. But users of the OS are concerned that Google can change the settings of their mobile phones remotely without their knowledge.

Google’s apologetic words on Reddit: “Hi all, some of you may have noticed that battery saver turned on automatically today. This was an internal experiment to test battery saving features that was mistakenly rolled out to more users than intended. We have now rolled battery saver settings back to default. Please configure to your liking. Sorry for the confusion.”

This happening however suggests that several applications and Google Play Services have permission to change the system settings on your device. It is still possible to change this authorization, but in the case of Google Play Services, it is probably not important to the average user. 

What do you think about this mistake from Google?

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Harti HK

Harti, jocular and mean at the same time... I use the internet a lot and technology freaks me. Everyday I try to learn new things as regards technology and things that are related to it. I don't talk much, maybe this is not true anyway. I wanted to create a platform where I can discuss what I have learned over the years with people, and that's how techsfreak.com came about. My posts are from personal experience, with thorough research. "Internet is the real world." #Go to 'Hire Me' page if you want me to do something for you. #Use the icons at the top/down to follow the blog on social networks to get first-hand updates.

4 thoughts on “Google Can Make Changes On Your Phone Remotely

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