Doze Sees Nice Improvements in Android N

Editor’s Note:  This post is concerning a feature in Android N.  As this new version of Android is still in development, the features described in this post could change between the time of the writing and when it is released to the public in the summer of 2016.

The world is less than 24 hours into the initial technical release of Android N but already some new features and improvements are starting to emerge.  One of those is around Doze, the battery saving element in the Operating System.  As many of you will know, Doze made its appearance in Android Marshmallow and while it is really good and really impressive, it does have some rough edges.  It appears that Google is working to address those in N and from what I am seeing, they are all positive steps.

For the uninitiated, let me explain what Doze is at a high level so you are up-to-speed.  In Android Marshmallow, when your device is sitting idle, the OS will shut down apps to a very lower power state but will stay alive enough for you to get priority updates and notifications.  When you pick your device back up, everything comes back to life as normal and you won’t have any lag or delay when you open up an app.  In order for Doze to work, your device has to

Android N
Android N

meet certain criteria.

  • It has to be running on battery power (not plugged into AC)
  • The screen must be turned off
  • The device must be sitting still (like on a desk or nightstand)

The first two requirements somewhat make sense.  If you are plugging in and charging your phone, why would you care to save battery?  Also, given that the screen is generally the biggest battery drain, it makes sense that it has to be off in order for Doze to kick in.  But what has tripped up Doze in Marshmallow is the last requirement of the device sitting still.  This requirement works if you leave your phone on your desk all day without charging it or if you have it on your nightstand and forget to plug it in.  It will dramatically save battery so you don’t wake up to a dead phone.

But what if you are walking around all day with the phone in your pocket?  That, my friends, is the rub.  In that scenario today, Doze won’t kick in.  Let’s say you are walking around a convention center like I have been doing most of this week with your phone in your pocket.  While you save some battery by not having the screen on as it is in your pocket, other services like Wi-Fi and notifications are still blazing away, eating up battery.  This, fundamentally, is how Doze has changed in Android N.

Within the new release there are a couple of key things that have changed.  First, when the device has its screen off and is in your pocket, a subset of Doze features enable to save you battery life.  What happens is it turns off network access and notifications for periods of time, then wakes up, checks everything out and gets any updates, then goes back into this semi-Doze mode.  If however the device is indeed sitting still, it goes into full-on Doze mode.

Today, in Marshmallow, Doze is either an all-in or an all-out proposition.  These new staged levels of Doze in Android N are great because they solve (at least partially) the issue of not really saving any battery while you have the device sitting idle in your pocket or bag.

It will be interesting to see how this feature improves and develops over the beta cycles in N over the next few months but right out of the gate, Doze seems to have received a healthy improvement.