KitKat giving you battery drain problems? Try uninstalling Skype, says Google as it prepares a fix

Summary:Google is preparing a fix for a battery depleting bug in the camera software on Android 4.4.2 devices, and in the mean time one way to stop the issue is to uninstall Skype.

If you've noticed that your smartphone has been suffering battery woes since upgrading to KitKat, you're not alone.

A bug in a background program that controls KitKat devices' cameras, known as 'mm-qcamera-daemon', looks to be behind a spate of Android 4.4.2-powered hardware rapidly losing power or overheating.

Over the past week, hundreds of Nexus 5 and other Android device owners have reported on the Android Open Source Project's Issue Tracker that the software recently started consuming as much as half of a device's battery, and in some cases also causing overheating.

Google has, in the past 48 hours, confirmed that it had identified the relevant bugs behind the problem and will issue a fix for them in a maintenance update for its own Nexus line of devices. However, it hasn't said when that will be released, and also advised owners of non-Nexus Android devices affected by the bug to contact their hardware manufacturer for a fix.

"High power drain on non-Nexus devices is not something we can help with. If you have a Note, or any other non-Nexus device, you'll have to reach out to your manufacturer," a Google AOSP project member wrote. 

Some Samsung Galaxy Note 3 owners running Android 4.3 also complained of similar battery draining issues caused by the daemon.  

"While the camera daemon process is named the same on many devices that use a Qualcomm chip for camera support, the code in it will be very different, as it is heavily customised for each device. Fixes for one device do not apply to others directly," the Google AOSP project member said.

Google appears to have been aware of that the camera software was causing "persistent high CPU usage" on some devices since it released Android 4.4.2 in December, which came a week after it issued an update specifically to improve the Nexus 5's camera .

According to Google, the recent uptick in reports about the problem could be related to an update to Skype, which began to regularly access the camera from its background services and for some reason triggers the bug.

Two ways to resolve the issue temporarily would be to take the impractical measure of uninstalling Skype or, alternatively, rebooting the affected phone, according an AOSP project member.

"Uninstalling Skype may substantially reduce the likelihood of this bug appearing, but I realise Skype is a very important application for many people. Other camera-using applications may trigger this bug as well, but that's been relatively rare. Most applications also do not access the camera when not in the foreground, so they will only trigger issues when actively used."

Read more on KitKat

Topics: Android, Google

About

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, s... Full Bio

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