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

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.

TOPICS: Android, Google

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

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

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, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Fix?

    Have any idea when the fix is coming?
  • Competition

    Given that Skype/Microsoft and Google/Hangouts are competitors, I wonder about the legal implications of advising users to remove Skype from Android devices.
    • good point

      One wonders if all the big boys are playing industrial espionage sabotage games with each other. May be pure coincidence but have noticed iTunes updates on windows computers seem to play up with things after downloading, if didn't know better would swear Norton Symantec may like to let folks know (ah hum just before subscription renewal) that their security is superior to Microsoft windows security essentials, wouldn't be anything to do with Norton security not being palatable with Microsoft metro interface surely not of course.
    • Competition

      What are the competitive issues of Microsoft ruining Android users' experience with their app?
    • it's not just skype

      I guess they are advising people against using apps like vine, viber and stuff, but of all of them Skype is probably used the most.
  • OMG

    It can't be true, a problem with Android? Isn't it supposed to be perfect?
    • No,

      you have that confused with Apple. "It just works".
  • Choose your words carefully...

    Their statement included this quote - "High power drain on non-Nexus devices is not something we can help with." Last I checked, the Moto X was a phone produced by Google Owned (until recently) Motorola. That answer is unacceptable. However, this battery drai nproblem has not affected my device so I have no complaints.
  • Whats worst is no longer writing to the SD Card after KitKat

    What cube dweller at Google thought it was ok to change the ability to write to the Note 3 SD Card. Does anyone at the Company event think anymore. What's the point of having a SD card if you cannot even write it anymore. Don't install KitKat if you want your applications to write to the SD Card. Truly Idiots.
  • Funny...

    How Google has problems with the OS and even though they are fixing the OS [at one point] they blame someone else [in this case Microsoft]. Sure glad my phone provider hasn't released 4.4.x for my Android yet.
  • Makes sense

    I have to remember to turn Skype off on my cell phone when I'm not working (I find it more convenient to talk that way than to grab a headset), as it's most definitely a power hog.
    John L. Ries
  • Does make me wonder...

    ... why Skype's accessing the camera while running only in the background. NSA much?
    Brian J. Bartlett
    • for rhe same reason the other apps that google mentions?

      or you could go with Fear, Uncertainties and Doubt to imply someone is doing something wrong.
  • Shame...

    That's interesting given that many of us don't have Skype and we are still experiencing the camera issue.

    Instead of trying to blame another company, and using Skype as a scapegoat, maybe Google should admit a flaw in its own operating system, take responsibility, read our feedback and bug reports, and fix the issue promptly.

    Also shame on the tech blogs and tech news sites for not reporting on this issue sooner, as its evidenced by this thread (!msg/nexus/z47YrU5rxrc/HGIARZ7tXWcJ) that this has been an issue for months. ZDNET has chosen to only now give air to the story because of Google's accusations against Skype. That's sad, but I guess we now known who really pays the tech bloggers and tech reporters.
    • exactly

      I can't agree with this more. Total media blackout with the nexus issues regarding the camera!
  • I don't have skype installed and

    kitkat battery life is horrendous!! i own galaxy Note 3.
    • Battery Drain

      I don't use Skype either. I noticed my note 3 the other day getting rather warm around the ear piece when making calls. And the battery was not lasting as long as before. Only 2wks after the latest update. And today I found my phone had switched itself off. I was beginning to think I had battery issues like on my ipod touch 5th gen. It appears not.
  • kit kat

    Waited an age for this update, which is PANTS!!!!! & NOW there's a bug no the wonder my g2 feels like it's on fire heaven know when this will be fixed HUMBUG! !!##
  • Mobile data battery killer- not Skype lol.

    The simple fact that Mobile Data is constantly dropping and trying to recover is the battery killer here. VZW was determined to send me a refurb even though i didn't want it. Somehow on the refurb the update downloaded but didn't install. Now i have to be diligent and not hit the install key. What a pain! Went in a VZW store yesterday and the clown there said he knew of no problems! Who is responsible for this?
    Grant Ferguson
  • Skype isn't even installed...

    And I'm having the same problem. My Samsung Galaxy s3 received the update this morning. Since then, my battery is draining EVEN WHILE ON CHARGE. It keeps waking up for no apparent reason, which is further draining the battery.
    I'd rather uninstall the update than try to accommodate it.