How to prevent apps “sleeping” in the background on Android

How to prevent apps "sleeping" in the background on Android thumbnail

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There’s nothing worse than picking up your phone, turning it on, only to realize the notification it’s just received was probably supposed to have reached you 10 minutes (or, you know, hours) ago. Annoyingly, the root cause of this is frequently Android itself, trying to manage your phone’s battery life by forcing “low” priority apps to go to sleep, with the end result being those delayed notifications. Fortunately, Android does offer you the ability to configure this behavior on some level, on an app-by-app basis, so that you can be more confident that notifications will be received when they’re sent, not when your phone decides you should get them.

Fixing this is relatively simple, and though the Battery Optimization feature may seem a little confusing at first, it really is just a few quick steps to resolve this annoying issue.

The below steps should work for most Android phones with Oreo (Android 8.0) or above. Some smartphone manufacturers, however, completely replace Android’s battery optimization for their own implementations. In those cases, you’ll need to consult a manufacturer-specific tutorial.

  1. Start the Settings app and find Battery Optimization in the Apps section.
  2. At the top of the screen, tap “Not Optimized” and then tap “All apps.” You should now see a list of all the apps on your phone. Each app is marked “Allowed” or “Not allowed.” Allowed means that your phone is allowed to put the app to sleep when it’s in the background.
  3.  Find an app that you don’t want to go to sleep, and tap it. In the pop-up, choose “Don’t allow” and confirm your choice by tapping “OK.”

Setting an app to

That’s it — though you will need to repeat that process for each app which you want to keep awake in the background. These settings should survive a reboot of your phone and will allow these apps to run normally. If you ever want to turn the battery optimization back on, just go back to that same menu, and find the apps you’ve exempted in the “not optimized” list.

Make sure your apps don’t sleep in the background on Samsung phones

If you have a Samsung device running One UI, Samsung provides another way to control sleeping background apps. It’s somewhat easier to use, and can supersede (but also kind of duplicate) the OS-level battery optimization setting. If you do have a Samsung phone, make sure you’ve set this up as well as the above battery optimization setting to make sure an app doesn’t go to sleep. If you tell the Android OS not to optimize the battery life of an app, but not the Samsung settings, your phone may still put it to sleep.

  1. You’re going to have to go deep to find these controls. Start the Settings app and tap “Device care.” Then tap “Battery.” On the Battery page, tap “App power management.”
  2. Samsung maintains a list of apps that are never permitted to go to sleep. To see the list, tap “Apps that won’t be put to sleep.” You can add additional apps to this list by tapping “Add apps.”

Samsung's App power management settings

  1. To disable background apps from going to sleep at all, turn off “Put unused apps to sleep.”

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