Google can remotely change the settings of your Pixel or Pie phone, and it just did it by mistake

Count on Google to continually raise the creepiness bar, because the giant tech corporation just made a mistake that it’ll have to soon explain to Android users. Plenty of Android phone owners who have upgraded their devices to Android 9.0 Pie woke up to phones that had the battery saving mode activated, even though they were fully charged. Google caused the whole thing, and it’s not just Pixel phones that are affected.

Google is testing something internally on Android 9.0 phones, something that has to do with battery life — and with remotely controlling devices that already run Pie without people’s knowledge.

First detailed on Reddit, the issue seemed strange. After all, Pie has been out for a few weeks now and we would have heard about this battery saving mode bug sooner. But as Android Police reports, it only happened on Thursday night, with plenty of Android 9.0 users reporting the issue. It’s not just Pixel and Pixel 2 owners who’ve experienced it, but also people who own OnePlus, Essential, Nokia, and any other Android phone that already received some sort of Pie update, beta releases included.

Google explained what happened on Reddit, suggesting that everything is fine:

This answer only raised more questions about Google’s ability to control devices remotely without informing users or obtaining their express consent. Google may be controlling battery settings via Google Play Services, which appears to have a permission enabled by default to allow the app to modify system settings. But, as one Reddit user puts it, this is still a problem:

Google will probably follow up with more explanations to put your mind at ease now that it unlocked this new level of creepiness.

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