In a startling incident last week, a few Google Pixel users found that the battery save feature on their phone had been turned on without their knowledge. This was happening when their device had almost full charge. Initially, most users thought this was happening due to a minor bug in the latest Android OS. However, one of the users took to discussion website Reddit asking if other people had encountered a similar problem. You can read the thread here.
Later, a Google spokesperson replied on the same thread declaring that the glitch had occurred due to an internal experiment. The test was meant to investigate some of the battery saver features. However, it was rolled out more widely and ended up affecting several users. “This was an internal experiment to test battery-saving features that was mistakenly rolled out to more users than intended,” the company said on Reddit. “We have now rolled battery saver settings back to default. Please configure to your liking. Sorry for the confusion,” it added.
All the affected users were running Android Pie OS on their devices. Apart from Pixel, the glitch has also affected other devices running on Android Pie such as Essential Phone, OnePlus 6 and Nokia 7+.
As the name suggests, the battery saver mode conserves your device’s power consumption by preventing apps from working in the background, delaying notifications and turning off GPS services. It also prevents apps from updating automatically.
Google “battery saver” glitch sparks privacy concerns
While many of the affected users have accepted the entire incident as just another tech glitch, others have expressed concern of users’ privacy. Kate Bevan, editor of Which? Computing Magazine was among the affected users.
“I noticed the other day that suddenly my battery saver was on and I was a bit puzzled by it,” she said. “I don’t want any app or operating system reversing decisions I’ve made – unless I know why they are doing it. It’s about transparency and consent – it may well be a good idea that a change is being made but I still want to know why,” she added.
Earlier this year, Facebook came under scrutiny for the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. As a damage control measure, the company has made its advertising policies more stringent.
While one can argue that this was an honest mistake on Google’s part, it still raises questions about the true ownership of a device. Despite spending thousands for a fancy handset, users are still not protected against such serious lapses. It is high time that we, as consumers, think twice before investing in gadgets.