Android 12L will let you disable Android’s new background app limitations

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It's not really a secret that I'm a big fan of the Android 12. I do like the new privacy dashboard, Material You design, and the smoothness of the new operating system. However, there are some features that are annoying me in the long run, such as the new Internet panel. Another new feature that seems to be irritating people is related to Android 12's new background app limitations. But turns out Google already has a patch for it.


  • The new and more drastic battery-saving option is breaking apps and Android 12 and can not be deactivated now.
  • The feature is called Phantom Process and limit apps in the background when achieving certain conditions.
  • Google already addressed the issue and a toggle should be available in the Developers Options of Android 12L.

According to tech journalist Mishaal Rahman, Google introduced "a change that kills background app processes" in certain conditions with the last OS update. It is called Phantom Processes and work as a more drastic battery-saving option that takes up too much power (PhantomProcessKiller).

As mentioned by Rahman on his Twitter account, the PhantomProcessKiller takes action when applications start child processes that use extensive resources while the main process is also active in the background. On Android 12, apps can start a maximum of 32 child processes, and if they use too much CPU resources the app can be forced to close.

That means if a power user app such as Termux, a Linux terminal emulator, consumes too much CPU resources while active in the background, it will be killed, and you have no control over it.

A patch is on the way...

Thankfully, a patch was submitted to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code and indicates changes to the PhantomProcessKiller. Apparently, it will be possible to turn off the battery optimization feature altogether in the Developer Options if it interferes with apps that are being used. You can see the description for the patch below:

Add settings to toggle the phantom process monitoring in dev options

For power users, the monitoring on phantom processes could be turned off from the Settings > Developer Options > Feature flags.

The XDA Developers team reported recently a commit where the Googler Jing Ji said that a toggle in Developer Options for disabling Phantom Processing had been merged, and "it should be able to make into Android 12L."

In conclusion, the PhantomProcessKiller feature is full of good intentions and most of us will probably not even notice it in our daily usage of the smartphone. On the other hand, power users should have the option to disable this feature when necessary, and the Android Developer team didn't take that in concern with the Android 12 update. Now, they are running to fix it and this is a good thing.

Camila Rinaldi

Camila Rinaldi
Head of Editorial

With over 10 years of reviewing smartphones and wearables, I recently became addicted to smart home gadgets. Even though I dove into the Apple ecosystem two years back, Android remains as one of my passions. Previously editor-in-chief of AndroidPIT and Canaltech in Brazil, I now write for the US market. I love my records and I believe that the best way to get to know a place is through its food. I’m (still) on Twitter (@apequenarinaldi)!

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