We first learned about “desktop hibernation,” a new and intriguing feature arriving in Android 12 that would automatically put long-unused applications into improved storage, freeing up space on your tablet, back in January.
While the feature has yet to appear in any of the Android 12 developer preview releases, it seems to be on the way. References to the feature have already been found in AOSP code, and now they’re even appearing in leaked Android 12 builds.
The hibernation mode functions in a similar way to how apps’ permissions are withdrawn during extended stretches of inactivity, except it’s a lot more straightforward.
On last week’s leaked build of Android 12, XDA was able to get it running, revealing that a new “Unused applications” portion of the System details configuration menu would be introduced, removing the “delete permissions if app isn’t used” toggle currently available in the App permissions panel.
Android seems to take three months (or thereabouts) to flag an app as unused; the operator then has the option of setting them to this state automatically.
When an app is marked as inactive, its permissions are revoked for functional protection (as in Android 11), alerts are turned off, and temporary files (presumably cache and similar) are removed to free up space.
These applications must be able to be re-enabled very easily, or there will be little advantage to uninstalling them.
This might be a handy feature for that once-in-a-blue-moon tool, such as the incredibly infrequent Lyft trips I take during tech shows and only twice a year after that. Of course, it would be a huge help to anybody who has a phone with little storage space.
However, as with all future and unconfirmed Android features, there’s a risk it won’t make it into Android 12’s final release edition.