Last Updated: August 12th, 2013

We're all happy to see Android 4.3 finally make its appearance, especially as it brings some pretty important and positive low-level improvements like Bluetooth Low Energy and TRIM support. Unfortunately, new versions often introduce new bugs that slip by even the most diligent testers. Jelly Bean 4.2 had its fair share of issues, including an almost comically bad oversight: the total annihilation of December in the stock Contacts app. This is why each major release is often followed by a couple of bug fix OTAs in the following weeks. We're going to start a running series to examine some of the bigger and more user-facing issues.

We're kicking things off with an obnoxious bug in ClipboardManager, a nicely segregated little service with the sole responsibility of holding on to the bits of information users copy from one place and eventually paste into another. Don't worry, the bug isn't affecting any of the core functionality, so copy/paste will keep working as normal. However, things go wrong once you have an app installed that requests to be notified of changes to the clipboard through a call to addPrimaryClipChangedListener. The sneaky part about this bug is that nothing bad happens when the call is made, and nothing bad even happens to the app that made the call - rather, when something is copied in a completely different app, it is that app that crashes.

If, for some reason, you would like to reproduce the bug on your own device (running Android 4.3), you can do so by following these steps:

  1. Install and run our sample application here (I built it, so I know it's safe). Edit: Here's the source code.
  2. Start any app that has a text field or anything else with text to copy (messenger apps, browsers, calculators).
  3. Copy some text and watch that app crash.

Just reboot your device to get the clipboard back to normal.

There aren't very many apps with a need to monitor the clipboard, so you may not have stumbled onto this yourself. Still, you will probably find this behavior in clipboard managers (they keep a history of your copied text), language translators, dictionaries, and a handful of others. If you've suffered at the hands of this bug due to one of your favorite apps, resist the urge to leave negative feedback in the Play Store. The developers aren't at fault for this issue and many might not even know about it yet.

The good news: this bug has already been tracked down and fixed by Dianne Hackborn, one of our favorite lead engineers on the Android team. The patch hasn't gone public yet, so we'll be waiting a bit longer, but it will probably roll out soon.

Android 4.3 users, has the clipboard bug been a problem for you?

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[Android Issue Tracker #58043]

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

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

    Just FYI, this is a new running series that'll concentrate on important new and fixed bugs, and it'll run indefinitely, for as long as Google continues to release new versions of Android with bugs (that's pretty much a given).

    • PhineasJW

      Great stuff Artem.

    • Jooyoung Hong

      looking forward to it

    • EH101

      Who ya gonna call? Bug-Watch!

      Nope... Doesn't have the same ring to it...

      • Andreas Martin Mørch

        "Bug-Watchers" is getting there.

      • Dwayne

        They should call it "Bug-Busters"

        • EH101

          That's exactly my train of thought... Are you that voice in my head? If so, thanks for all the great and not-so-great ideas over the years!

          • Andrew Chelladurai

            General consensus, at least in Cartoons is that there are two voices in your head, One giving great ideas the other giving not-so-great ideas over the years (Unless you have MPD, in which case you could have more than a couple of voices in your head)

            Now coming back to the comment trail, what voice was Dwayne ?

          • EH101

            Indeed, I remember the little angels and devils from the Tom & Jerry days quite fondly. In this case, however, it made a bit more sense (to me, anyway) to combine them since I was replying to one person.

            Though if I had to choose, I'd be leaning a bit more towards angel right now since nothing about this topic has even been remotely bad.

    • Mick Collingwood

      Good idea.

    • duse

      Very glad to see this...need to call Google out on some of this stuff.

    • John

      What you guys missed, is to create a tag "Bug Watch" so we could track them over time.

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

        Actually, the tag was there, but now I've added a Bug Watch category under Features that you can track.

    • trev8988

      Another version another bug. always the same thing with android

      • squiddy20

        As if iOS doesn't have its fair share of bugs. Continuous problems with the switchover to Daylight Savings Time anyone?

      • Andrew Chelladurai

        Thats necessary in the chain of Life (or SDLC in Tech terminology)
        Continuous improvement is necessary for anything and everything (Unless you are Jesus Christ, who is Perfect)

  • http://k3rnel.net Juan Rodriguez

    OOooh! Do the audio one next. It needs exposure otherwise Google won't fix it until 6.1.1.

  • ScottColbert

    While I haven't run into this, I do a ridiculous amount of writing and editing (with a generous helping of cut and paste at times) on my N7, so this is great to know.

  • Liquidretro

    Pretty bad "Erratic Touch" problems on the 2013 Nexus 7 http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2381123

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

      Also already on our list. My N7 is affected too.

      • Liquidretro

        I don't think exchanging them seems to help from most peoples account, so it has to be software. Amazon is sold out for the next several weeks so I can't even exchange mine if I wanted to right now.

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

          Well, it could be software, unless it's hardware and a lot more spread out than we think.

          However, I never had a problem typing or doing anything on my tablet yet due to this bug, unlike other people, which indicates that it may be more severe in some situations, which again points to hardware IMO.

          • Liquidretro

            Yes it's complex for sure, maybe it's why this bug is taking more time to kill than others.

    • EH101

      Wow, my brother has a new N7 and just had to see this for myself. It's worse than I thought it was going to be. Especially in Maps. Wish the zoom buttons were still available in labs.

      • Paul_Werner

        You can still double tap to zoom in... though that only takes care of half of the issue with no zoom buttons. I don't have the N7 (2013) so not sure if the erratic touch issue would still come into play when double tapping though

        • EH101

          Ah, yes I had completely forgotten about the double tap to zoom. I can't check if that is effected by the touch issue though since I am away from the N7. I can definitely see one in my future though if this doesn't end up being a hardware issue.

        • Chris

          You can double tap to zoom in AND OUT. Just double tap, and hold on the second tap. Then move your finger up and down. Instant zooming in and out :)

          • Paul_Werner

            Oh right, that's true too. Gotta love those gestures

  • Mick Collingwood

    I was aware of this as I use the clipboard quite a lot to store tags for Instagram. My usual app kept crashing so I changed over to an app called Clipper. The Dev created a workaround until Google rectifies the problem.

  • Floris

    Nice, you built an application just for us readers to satisfy our NEED to try it ourselves.. Thats really awesome, keep up the Awesome work!

    • Floris

      Did I just forget to tell you that you are awesome? I must've been too excited while commenting.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      Thanks, I was hoping that would be helpful. I'm not sure I'll be able to keep it up for all of these bugs, since a couple of the ones on the list are going to take a lot longer to build an app for, but I'll do what I can.

      Here's a question... Does anybody actually want to see source code? I don't mind sharing it, but I am opportunistically lazy about this kind of stuff. :)

      • Andreas Martin Mørch

        I'd personally love to see the source, but don't worry if don't bother.

      • Floris

        I would like it, actually, thanks. I've been reading into Android programming lately, and I think the best way to learn is get to know some real code examples. If it is too big of a hassle, please forget about it.

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

        Gist it and embed the gist?

  • Andrew

    Maybe you can investigate a little about this: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2392155

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      Ugg, wakelocks. I had a bad experience


      • Andrew

        Yep. But most of the times it is easy to identify a guilty party at least. But in this case BetterBatteryStats does not show anything unusual on Partial Wakelocks screen. Even all times of reported wakelocks do not add up to the duration of PowerManagerService.WakeLocks logged in Kernel Wakelocks.

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

      We'll look into it.

      • Andrew

        Thank you!

  • wickets

    thanks a ton for this

  • bungadudu

    This 4.3 has been for months in internal testing...

    What did they test if it has so many bugs?

    • EH101

      All the other bugs that didn't make it to us.... It's inevitable that some will not be able to be fixed by launch. I'm sure they prioritize things that make the software freeze or cause a sleep of death and such.

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

      Every software has bugs - we're just seeing the ones that haven't been caught.

  • Gary Wilkinson

    I'm seeing significant 'Android OS' battery usage on my HTC One GPE which is upsetting.

    • Truelitistnot

      Same issue on GNEX. 4.3 sucks the battery like there is no tomorrow.

  • Josh Legoza

    "1. Install and run our sample application here (I built it, so I know it's safe)."

    How do I know you're not just trying to make all my base are belong to you, hmmm??

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      Here's some code ;)


      I can't do it right now, but I'll try to remember to post all of the extra files for the project tomorrow so nobody has to slap together the obligatory files for the layout and manifest.

      • Josh Legoza

        I mostly just wanted to make an "all your base are belong to us" joke. It seemed like as good a place as any :)

  • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

    ClipIt doesn't cause this problem. It's by the same people who make AudioManager Pro. I highly recommend it.

  • JonJJon

    I just hope that now I have Android 4.3 with Bluetooth 4/LE, Cookoo Watch devs will release an app for Android to support their watch.

  • arathkone

    Great feature, look forward to seeing more of these. Noticed the other day, Diane has a great @Google email address for a programmer/software engineer.

  • Melissa Peterson

    Wasn't this a problem in a previous version of Android, or was that an OEM skin that was causing it?

  • Andrew C

    I noticed this because of a Tasker profile I have

  • Truelitistnot

    Clipboard but not an issue, However, battery drain is a serious issue, wifi not reconnecting is a serious issue and really bad memory performance is a serious issue. 4.3 is a terrible upgrade. I flashed back to 4.2.2 just to get a decent phone back. I wish Google wouldn't nag me to upgrade as well; I don't want the 4.3 virus on my phone.

    Sammy GNEX.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

    Here's the source code for the sample app, in case anybody wanted to check it out.


  • pie

    Is there a way I can track down the application that's causing this behaviour on my device? I'd really like to use the clipboard...

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      I suspect it's possible, but I'm not really aware of a specific method. I imagine it's possible by pulling from the logcat or maybe with some code, but I can't say with certainty.

      Hopefully, the patch rolls out really soon and this issue will just disappear.

  • Cathy Fowler

    Is there any way to figure out which app is monitoring the clipboard and thereby causing this crash? I don't have any clipboard app installed specifically but apparently some app of mine is monitoring the clipboard.

  • Marcos

    Every time! I hate this bug, I am afraid of copying because I can miss the app!

  • Petros

    Is there any way to identify which app is watching the clipboard? I don't have any clipboard manager app installed but I still get the bug!

  • speedy gt

    So when is this bug being fixed?