Oops! Google accidentally changed the battery settings for a bunch of Android users

The battery saver feature was turned on as an 'internal experiment,' which Google has since rolled back.

How to install Android 9.0 on Android Pie-compatible devices

Some Android Pie users were in for a surprise recently when a battery saver feature was turned on remotely without their knowledge. What's even more surprising is that Google was behind it.

Reddit users in multiple threads began reporting that their battery saver feature was randomly turned on without their doing. In a discussion on the Google Pixel subreddit, the official Google account confirmed the behavior, and said that it was accidental. Here's the full response:

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.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)

Android Police, in an early report that has since been updated, initially theorized that the feature enablement might have been a bug. Since Android Pie is currently only available to a select number of devices--most notably the Pixel series from Google--most of the early reports came in from owners of those devices posting to messages boards and on social media.

Battery saver is a useful feature that can help keep your phone from dying when it gets to a low battery level. However, it does so by limiting some of the more battery-hungry features on the device.

As noted by Android Police, battery saver can be set to turn on when the phone reaches a certain battery percentage, and that threshold can be changed by the user. In its accidental rollout, Google seemed to have changed the threshold for many Android Pie users to a high number, like 99%.

While many modern smartphones rely on background app updates and the like, Google's ability to push major changes like this remotely could be concerning to some users as a possible invasion of privacy.

At the time of this publication, Google had not responded to a request for comment.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Some Android Pie users had the battery saver feature activated remotely by Google, which claimed it was testing battery saving features.
  • Google's remote settings changes could be concerning to some users as a possible invasion of privacy.

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Image: Jason Cipriani/CNET