29
Jul
JellyBean

Anyone who has made the jump to Android 4.3, which admittedly isn't that many people right now, may have noticed that some applications now plant persistent notifications in the status bar. We offered this as a disclaimer in our post about manually updating a Nexus 4 to Android 4.3. Turns out, this is completely intentional. Android now forces persistent notifications on unkillable apps that run silently in the background. This is an attempt to call attention to behavior that isn't quite okay.

Notifications3

Many developers have made their applications impossible to kill and don't alert users to the fact that they're still running. They do this by creating a malformed notification object that doesn't appear in the status bar but still tricks the activity manager into allowing the service to enter the foreground. This is great for snooping, but that doesn't mean that only malicious apps adopt this behavior. As Artem's screenshots show below, the Network Monitor Mini Pro was one offender, but the developer has since updated the app to fix the problem.

Notifications1 Notifications2

While Android developers originally wanted to force quit apps that submit malformed notifications, there are simply too many out there for this to be a usable approach. Instead, Android will alert users to the offending apps, and developers will probably be inclined to change their software once users stop using their products and/or bring public shaming down on their heads. Hopefully the bulk of them will have been fixed by the time most phones make the jump to the latest version of Jelly Bean.

Source: Google+

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. He now lives in the City of Bridges, adjusting to the presence of actual snow. His phone of choice is the HTC One.

  • Jdban

    I'm hoping there will be a way around this if rooted. Persistent notifications are annoying as hell and I want none of them.

    • Jake Lee

      Wouldn't hiding notifications from that app work?

    • DrewNusser

      Click on the notification, it takes you to app info, uncheck "show notifications."

      • Jdban

        But I still want tasker/other apps to run in the foreground, just not having a notification. I want some of the other notifications, so this doesn't work

        • Imparus

          So you want apps to run in the foreground without informing the user? Why not just hide those few that does?

          • ProvoAggie

            There is no way to hide them. I have both ADW and Ad Block Plus installed on my phone. I've set both apps to hide notifications since I know that they are already running and I'm okay with that but Android still forces notifications. It's nice that they are showing you apps that are running constantly but it would be really nice if they would provide you with a way to hide the notifications once you decide which ones you are okay with.

      • Zargh

        Comes straight back as soon as the the app is opened again.

    • Mick Collingwood

      Uninstall them ;-), ask the developer to fix the code or go-to app list and disable notifications for that app.

      • RajivSK

        disabling the notifications sounds like a good workaround. I really like the fact that we can now easily disable any permission on a per app basis.

        • allen

          is there 'show notification' permission ? I'd love to disable that if possible on all annoying app.
          together with disable 'bakcground app' permission, would love it :)

          • RajivSK

            Yes there is. First thing I did was revoke location and notification permissions for annoying apps (like facebook)

      • Randroid

        Disabling notifications will make it disappear until the app is opened or the device is restarted, then it comes back. I tried it on my N10, it's definitely annoying. If I choose to hide a notification, it should stay hidden. I know it should be there, I chose to hide it. (And no, the app that I'm using is not abusing it. It needs to be persistent, I just don't want to see the notification.)

  • Test

    Nova launcher does

    • Mick Collingwood

      I've got no notification from Nova. Even with aggressive desktop enabled, still no notification.

    • Stacey Liu

      No it doesn't.

      • test

        on my nexus 7 it does!!

  • fzammetti

    Next Launcher 3D does this... I had to just disable notifications... not an ideal solution obviously, but works short-term.

  • Miles

    I'm glad they did it. I don't want apps hanging around in the background that I though I'd killed.

    • Adam Schadt

      Although I would like to be able to hide it.

      • Imparus

        Doesn't "hide notification" under app info do that?

        • Zargh

          Comes straight back as soon as the system refreshes or you open the app its attached to.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          @zargh:disqus is correct. Hide Notification works temporarily until the service restarts or you reboot.

          • Imparus

            Thats... stupid :-/

            I hope they will think about that for the next version

          • Matt Alexander

            I'm pretty sure "Hide notification" under app info works even after reboot or service restart. Every time I've used it, I've never seen the notification again.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Then your app was probably fixed, or we're not talking about the same notifications.

          • Skywriter

            I just tried this and it behaves a little strange. The setting doesn't change after a reboot but the notification will show up again. But there's a quick fix. Just cycle the notification setting on/off and it will dissapear again.

          • Ruben

            You're right, unfortunately though... I want to get rid of the RoundR and Floating Toucher notifications D:

        • Adam Schadt

          Yes but it hides everything that comes from the app, and it only lasts until you reboot.

    • Cerberus_tm

      This is not the right solution. I want *choice*, Apple! I mean Google. I
      want to be able to decide whether or not the application shall have a
      permanent notification. For many applications, like Tasker, Lightflow,
      etc., I really wouldn't want a permanent notification! It's needless clutter. I want to see zero notifications when nothing special is going on on my phone. So why doesn't
      Google simply add a setting to each application saying "allow
      background running without notification"?

  • M1lkm4n

    I'm looking at you, TuneIn Pro ....

    • http://urban-scholar.com/ LaRosa Johnson

      Yup, TuneIn is definitely a culprit. Why does that app even need to launch when starting up Android?

    • mlj11

      Apex Launcher's "keep in memory" option, and LMT launcher trigger annoying persistent notifications too...
      :/

    • Kyle

      I'm looking at Google Play Music, stop eating my memory!

      • Stacey Liu

        What. I'm not seeing any persistent notification for Play Music unless Music is playing or very recently paused.

        • Justin W

          Pretty sure he doesn't know that you can close it after you stop playing music and it disappears.

          • Kyle

            Pretty sure I know how to close an app and swipe it away in the task manager. However, when I check the active applications it is still running in the background. Even after a reboot Play Music is running before I open the app. Granted I am not running 4.3 so I have no idea if there is a persistent notification, it just irritates me that the app is eating 20mb+ of ram before I open it.

          • Justin W

            Dude, something is wrong with your device if Play Music is auto-starting when you reboot. I have a Nexus 4, Nexus 10, new Nexus 7, and an HTC One and I've never had that issue. Are you swiping away the constant notification after you pause or stop music? It should go away by itself (rather, it has for me).

          • Prasad Tiruvalluri

            Yup. I agree. It is not there on my S2, TF201 and Galaxy Tab too....

          • Abhimanyu Seth

            Happens to me and my brother as well on Note2. I'm on a custom ROM and he's on International version stock ROM.
            So pretty sure Android runs Google Play Music automatically... no idea why!

          • Kyle

            I'm certain there is nothing wrong with my device. Have you actually checked the running processes on your device or are you simply looking at the tiles in your task manager?

          • Justin W

            Processes and RAM usage. Play Music stops after you end it - it's not using any RAM on any of my devices after I close it via the app switcher, and I don't get why you are having this issue.

  • Dan

    I love it. Android 4.3, now with automatic dirtball alerts.

  • Jerrod Schultz

    For the legit apps, you can turn off notifications manually in the Android application preferences. I noticed that toggling the notification preference in the application preferences off, then on again, will not turn on the persistent notification again (until the application gets updated). So if the app you use has helpful notifications (ie. ZDbox), you can keep them on without the persistent notification that the app is running.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      They come back for these apps after they restart or you reboot.

      • Jerrod Schultz

        Aah... Don't think I've had to reboot in a while. Thanks for the clarification.

    • PhineasJW

      This doesn't persist across device reboots. At least not for me.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

    It will be interesting to see the mixed emotions this brings about over time, particularly from the ROM / tinkering community. It's only a fix for "apps abusing an exploit" until it's an app you really like, then it's a slap in the face to "user customization."

    • Christopher Lee

      Tinkering especially, given how many people use Light Flow.

      • Zargh

        Lightflow was already updated way ahead of time to use a minimum priority notification, which doesn't show up in the status bar and gets shown beneath the others. Its the same thing Google Now notifications use.

        • Christopher Lee

          Oh, I know. But there are some people who will be annoyed by the presence of a notification at all.

          • skitchbeatz

            Consider me one of those people. This change is definitely a double edge sword.

          • Stacey Liu

            I'm not seeing any notification from Light Flow on 4.3. Only on boot it's there for about 2 seconds.

          • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

            I have LightFlow on 4.3 and I don't see a persistent notification.

          • Andrew

            Lightflow has the option to switch this on or off by having the user choose if the app runs in the foreground or not. When it doesn't it's more likely to get killed off. If this happens and a notification comes in before the service has restarted then it'll miss showing the correct led and will show the default one until the default one is cleared.

  • Torey

    Clicking hide the notification from the app will not work because this is not a notification from the app. it is a system notification telling you that the app is making itself unkillable.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      That's exactly right. The app's behavior was essentially broken in 4.3.

      Even now, it's not ideal, but it's a lot better: http://i.imgur.com/QnnRtqN.png

      The left part looks broken so I would never use that. Additionally, on the Nexus 4 the notification bg color is different from the rest of the notification drawer, so it's still visible, even though there's no text. I think the dev should remove this option altogether. But I'm fine with the ongoing notification as long as it doesn't show up in the notification area when it's rolled up.

  • Paul James

    Ah, that explains why my Synology Could Station icon was stuck there after my update, I uninstalled it to get rid of the notifiication!

  • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

    Guess I haven't been using any such offending apps, as my Nexus 4 and 7 haven't shown me any sign of this issue so far. I do have concerns about some types of apps that I WANT always running, but DON'T want wasting space in my notification bar.

    • naysayer

      Understandable, but I think it's more important to know about apps you don't want to be running constantly.

  • jayray78

    Ah, so that's what she meant. I guess I just needed to read it in different words.

  • PhineasJW

    Ahhh. Thanks for the explanation.

    Persistent notifications are a guarantee UNINSTALL and 1-star review from me. Already blew away my Withings app.

    • Justin W

      I don't necessarily like persistent notifications, but I dislike not having the option (within the app, mind you) to remove said notification. There are some useful persistent notifications (Lux's is a great tool on 4.1+ for quick adjustments to brightness and other tools).

      • PhineasJW

        I was happy doing the same. Though in my case I needed to shut off the notification from the Google App menu.

        I think the idea is that you can't just shut off the notification, because it's actually running a service without your knowledge, so Google wants you to know about it.

        So, given those parameters, get rid of the notification, or I'm uninstalling your app. JMO.

        • Justin W

          Yeah. I think most app devs will be quick to fix it, but there are several who don't consistently update their apps - those'll be the ones with the notification constant remaining.

    • GMD

      Notification is more than just icon and title in notification panel. Service with notification (foreground service) has lower chance to be automatically restarted by Android. Restart is usually scheduled in 20 seconds after shutdown so service is not running in that period. Some services need to be running all the time for user convenience.

  • Lutzifer

    lol, yeah TuneIn Radio Pro is the only app I have doing this.Hopefully they do an update.
    Well Next Launcher did too, but I uninstalled it becuz of this reason, but I love TuneIn Radio.

  • Mayoo

    Would "Disable notifications" from the app config work as a workaround?

    Sorry @Jake Lee, just saw your comment.

  • Rob Earls

    Audible has three 3! Persistent notifications!

  • BrianLipp

    kinda figured google changed something when i noticed a Twilight notification, even though in the app i checked "disable notification". interestingly, there are 2 different notifications, one if thats checked and one if its not. One opens the app itself, the other opens up the app info page to force stop or uninstall it.

  • IncCo

    Sounds annoying as fuck for apps you want running in the background without taking space in the notifcation bar..

    • TSON1

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but can't you just Long Press -> App Info -> Disable Notifications?

      • Barnassey

        It has been stated multiple times that it is a SYSTEM notification.

      • Randroid

        It disappears until the app is opened or the device is restarted. I tried it on my N10, it's definitely annoying. If I choose to hide a notification, it should stay hidden. I know it should be there, I chose to hide it. (And no, the app that I'm using is not abusing it. It needs to be persistent, I just don't want to see the notification.)

  • naysayer

    I'm wondering if there is a better way. Why not ask the user if they know about the app (via this notification) and if they click yes, then offer to disable the warning for this app.
    That would make power users happy and might still be intuitive enough for moms.

  • Skywriter

    Thanx for the explanation.
    T.E.A.M. Battery Bar did this so I took away its notification privilege after updating to 4.3. Tried a reboot now and the setting persisted but it still showed the notification. A simple on/off cycle of the notification privilege solved that.

    A little annoying but since I only reboot my phone maybe once a month I can live with it until they update the app.

  • Jodå

    It's good that they do this so that apps are correctly developed. Unfortunately, the users are the instructions suffering from this. I hope there is a way to disable this. At least in custom roms. I haven't tried 4.3 yet, though, so maybe it isn't that annoying after all?

  • Mark

    Tune-in Radio Pro is now annoying as hell. Have uninstalled it, until developer can be bothered to do things properly.

  • Stacey Liu

    For things like Lightflow and Tasker, this shouldn't even be an issue. There is absolutely no reason anyone with a good device should force those apps to run in foreground mode. I run both on my Nexus 4, and they've always run without a hitch in background mode. Android has never killed their processes.

  • Hector Soto

    I'm watching you jawbone companion!!

  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

    So, let me understand this. All apps that are currently running, in foreground and in background, will have a notification in the notification bar? Or only those apps which resist force-kill?

  • sprior

    There has to be some happy medium between not ever seeing unkillable apps and having them forever in the "this is something you need to know right away" notification area - couldn't the brains at Google come up with something?

    • GMD

      It does not display notifications for background services, only foreground. Probably Google is trying to say to developers that most services should be background. Problem is that background services are restarted frequently by Android in order to free resources and re-start is usually scheduled in some 20 seconds after shutdown, so service is not running for these 20 seconds.
      I'm developing Gesture Control app and now I'm forced to choose what emails I want receive more: 'gestures periodically stop working for a minute' or 'Could you remove persistent notification'.

  • Sorian

    Audible has 3!

    • Sorian

      Top one is normal, the next 3 only started to show after the OTA update.

  • Ark

    Ah yes, public shaming. Working well since the middle ages.

  • Ryan Stewart

    This was leaked by the developer of light flow a while back, I think you even had an article here. I'm glad that they didn't require persistent notifications for all services though, I love light flow.

  • Adam Meredith

    ill stick on 4.2 then, i cant stand notifications cluttering up my n7

  • Wibbly Wobbly

    I don't have an issue with persistent notifications of any type, but I do have an issue of them being mixed up with and cluttering the display of non-persistent ones. Maybe persistent notifications can be moved away from the main notification shade. Once I've seen them I don't need a permanent reminder every time I look for the notification of an email or txt!

  • GMD

    1) I don't think Google is fair with wording here. "Carefully malformed notification" is simply notification without icon set. Android does not throw an exception when creating/publishing notification without icon, so if such behavior was not intended then it was simply an Android bug.
    2) "Unkillable" - is plain wrong too. Android is simply less willing to automatically restart foreground service. Foreground service can be killed same way like background service - with Force stop in app manager.

  • jurrabi

    I applaud the measure.

    Lately I get more and more the impression that programmers are getting smart enough to use the so many holes in android to get away with their snooping needs.

    It's not that programmers want to snoop. They just want to earn money and there's where the adware modules start infestating our phones.

    In the last months I've used CM 10.1 on my HTC One X. In the beginning I could get through the day with my battery, if I didn't play much games.

    After a while of installing, testing, uninstalling apps I found it hard to get half through the day with my battery.

    I have to say that I use LBE to control how apps behave, disallowing everyone to autostart, controlling permissions (like access to gps) etc.

    But still I got 5 hours use with battery dropping to the floor very fast and Android informing that the greedy app was: Android OS.

    I feel that modules find ways to hide under the carpet and the only way to get good behaviour again is to reinstall rom and start over installing just the minimum.

    It's too similar to windows, I'm afraid. Android needs to step up in malicious use control.

    So I welcome any of this kind of measure.

  • http://www.AppsFALYF.com/ Apps FALYF, LLC

    Does anyone think Android will incorporate Small Call type features in any upcoming versions?

  • mateorod

    That is just great

  • didibus

    What if you want the app to be preserved in memory? Is there a better more official way to do this?

  • ppeklak

    Oh Pandora...how could you

  • Pat Somerville

    Some apps just plain old don't work in 4.3

  • Jeremy Harrison

    I'm not a fan of this so far. It's only showing me apps that I know and want to run in the background. I want Tasker and Apex running in the background so they're actually useful. What I don't want is my notification panel full of things that I've already chosen to hide.

  • panonski

    At least they should give us an option to turned it off.
    I hate this smart asses from google factory, lately...