Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Google can remotely change the settings of your Pixel or Pie phone, and it just did it by mistake

Published Sep 14th, 2018 10:19AM EDT
Pixel 2 Battery Saver

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

Count on Google to continually raise the creepiness bar, because the giant tech corporation just made a mistake that it’ll have to soon explain to Android users. Plenty of Android phone owners who have upgraded their devices to Android 9.0 Pie woke up to phones that had the battery saving mode activated, even though they were fully charged. Google caused the whole thing, and it’s not just Pixel phones that are affected.

Google is testing something internally on Android 9.0 phones, something that has to do with battery life — and with remotely controlling devices that already run Pie without people’s knowledge.

First detailed on Reddit, the issue seemed strange. After all, Pie has been out for a few weeks now and we would have heard about this battery saving mode bug sooner. But as Android Police reports, it only happened on Thursday night, with plenty of Android 9.0 users reporting the issue. It’s not just Pixel and Pixel 2 owners who’ve experienced it, but also people who own OnePlus, Essential, Nokia, and any other Android phone that already received some sort of Pie update, beta releases included.

Google explained what happened on Reddit, suggesting that everything is fine:

Hi all, some of you may have noticed that battery saver turned on automatically today. This was an internal experiment to test battery saving features that was mistakenly rolled out to more users than intended. We have now rolled battery saver settings back to default. Please configure to your liking. Sorry for the confusion.

This answer only raised more questions about Google’s ability to control devices remotely without informing users or obtaining their express consent. Google may be controlling battery settings via Google Play Services, which appears to have a permission enabled by default to allow the app to modify system settings. But, as one Reddit user puts it, this is still a problem:

We are talking about settings. Google is able to change MY settings, MY settings profile, write new MY settings. That’s unbelievable. That’s too much. I know Google is able to check/read and know my settings but why they can change my settings. Next time Google will turn off my Pixel. I’m very upset about that.

Google will probably follow up with more explanations to put your mind at ease now that it unlocked this new level of creepiness.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

More Tech