​Google fixes Android 5.1 memory leak - but when will users receive it?

Google has fixed a severe memory leak issue affecting the latest version of Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer on

Google has fixed a troublesome memory leak issue affecting some Nexus devices that run the latest version of Android.

Last week Google released factory images of the Android 5.1 update for its own brand Nexus devices and already device owners are piling on to Google's Android bug tracker with complaints about a severe memory leak. The bug is causing some Nexus devices' RAM to deplete over a few days of usage.

It's not clear whether the memory leak poses a potential security threat, however the issue has definitely caused availability problems for mostly Nexus 5 owners who've reported seeing system RAM usage ballooning to 1GB.

Memory leaks can manifest in a variety of ways, but severe ones deplete available memory when the OS fails to release memory after an application no longer needs it.

As one Nexus 5 owner running Android 5.1 noted, the bug kicks in when the user starts a game such as Farm Heroes Saga, then closes it by swiping the app away. Each time the app is dismissed, "system memory increases 100MB or more until there is no more space and then [the] cell phone stops responding".

Given that the Android 5.1 images were only available to select Nexus devices last week, it's mostly Nexus 5 owners who have reported problems with it, relating to apps and the launcher restarting.

Reports of the Android 5.1 issue follow complaints in November, again by Nexus owners, of a similar memory leak caused by the Android 5.0.1 update, which was released for all Nexus devices except for the Nexus 7 2012. That issue was closed in late December with a fix scheduled to be included in a future release.

Needless to say, some Nexus owners are fed up that a similar problem exists in the latest version of Android, and that it may take another three months to fix it.

Google on Saturday said it had fixed the bug but offered little comfort to Nexus owners affected by it.

"This has been fixed internally," a member of Google's Android team wrote on the weekend. "We do not currently have a timeline for public release."

In other words, Google has fixed the bug in the Android source code and users will need to wait and see whether Google will release it in the next update.

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