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1984: Google Admits To Changing Android Phone Settings Remotely Without User Consent

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Last week, Android users noticed something interesting that Google has now apologized for. Several owners of Android phones noticed that the battery saver setting had been remotely activated without their consent.

Why does this matter? The battery saver function is designed to allow the phone to operate at a lower performance while preserving battery life and affects how often apps update and work in the background of other programs. In some cases, this function can be automatically enabled when the phone battery goes under a certain level. Battery Saver also has the ability to delay notifications as well as stopping location services when the device is not being used, in order to preserve power.

According to multiple people who described the incident, the battery saver was enabled with a full or near full battery.

Google took the discussion to Reddit in an attempt to explain that they had conducted an internal test that was “mistakenly” rolled out more widely, according to the BBC.

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“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.”

The majority of those who posted on Reddit described owning a Google Pixel device, other brands of Android devices were also affected, including the Essential Phone, which was designed by one of the creators of Android.

Kate Bevan, technology commentator and editor of Which? computing magazine, said that her phone was affected as well.

“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.”

Silently changing your settings remotely, without your permission…where does this end?

Reddit user FZ_Nation summed it up by saying, “Yeah the whole “we’ll fix it guys” is not gonna fly on this one. What other changes are being made behind the scenes that may or may not be interfering with users’ lives and or / feeding data to Google?”

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