The Death of Speed Boosting Apps? Android 14 makes this fundamental change

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 10, 2023
Google Android

Speed boosting apps that promise to deliver improved performance by clearing memory and killing background apps face a serious issue when Android 14 comes out later this year.

A good chunk of these apps are snake oil, but that is not keeping millions of users from installing them on their devices. Especially lower-end and mid-range Android devices may have performance issues after some time of use. Memory may be used all up by apps, the processor may not have troubles with games, or storage space may be at an all-time low.

Speed bosting apps, there are plenty on Google Play, promise to resolve all these issues with the tap on a button. While some may indeed free up some memory, it is only a temporary recourse at best.

Google is working on Android 14 currently. The company has released two developer previews already, which we covered here and here,

Android 14 is a major new release that is going to shake things up significantly. One of the changes is intended to block apps that rely on aging APIs to even install on Android 14 devices. Google says that this is designed to plug a loophole that malicious Android apps use currently to bypass certain restrictions introduced in newer Android versions. There is also support for third-party passkeys management, which password managers such as Dashlane, 1Password and Bitwarden have been waiting for.

The death of speed boosting apps?

Android developers and users who have looked through the Android 14 changelog may have stumbled upon a behavioral change: Apps can kill only their own background processes.

What this means is that, going forward, any app may no longer kill the background processes of other apps; this is a big problem for task manager apps, but also for speed boosting apps. The core feature of many performance boosting apps is this task killing to free up memory and decrease power usage.

"Starting in Android 14, when your app calls killBackgroundProcesses(), the API can kill only the background processes of your own app.If you pass in the package name of another app, this method has no effect on that app's background processes, and the following message appears in Logcat: Invalid packageName: com.example.anotherapp".

Google notes that applications should not use the kill process or "otherwise attempt to influence the process lifecycle of other apps, even on older OS versions.

Even more damning, Google warns users on the same page that "it isn't possible for a 3-rd party application to improve the memory, power, or thermal behavior of an Android device".

We have come to a similar conclusion when we analyzed Game Boosters for PC gaming.

Closing Words

The change has significant consequences for speed boosters. One of their core features won't work anymore on Android 14 devices. While the functionality continues to work on older Android versions, it is fair to say that the functionality is on life support.

It seems likely that speed bosting apps won't go away anytime soon, if at all. Still, users on Android 14 and newer devices will notice a reduced functionality when they run these apps. Whether these continue to be that enticing then remains to be seen.

Now You: do you use speed boosters?

Android 14 poses a serious threat for speed boosting apps
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Android 14 poses a serious threat for speed boosting apps
Android 14 blocks any application on the device from killing other apps that run in the background.
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  1. basingstoke said on March 10, 2023 at 10:21 am

    “One of the changes is intended to block apps that rely on aging APIs to even install on Android 14 devices” So… remove compatibility for the use of older apps, artificially and for no good “technical” reason?

    They always try to frame this kind of thing in a positive light, yet it’s not. Let people install what they want, without nannying them.

    Here’s an idea for google, who owns both Android and the Google Play Store – scan for apps that use these “old” APIs on the play store, and then maybe restrict them there somehow? Yeah it sucks but so does the google play store – however it would leave manual installation unscathed, as it should be!

  2. Jek Porkins said on March 10, 2023 at 8:49 am

    Some of them were doing something, like batch-deleting cache in seconds, which would take you minutes to do manually every time and would be a massive annoyance.

    It was useful for eMMC storage devices or whatever they were using prior to that in the 2011-2013 Android era. Now with UFS storage these apps become obsolete – I’ve tried them myself on a fast phone – they don’t make it faster, because it never got any slower in the first place.

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