Samsung Smart Manager

  • January 22, 2016

... If you are using a Samsung device you probably noticed the Smart Manager app at some point int time. The app intends to help with keeping battery usage to a minimum by looking at the usage pattern for each app. The default behavior is to switch to automatic optimization if you do not interact for some time with an app. As our Birthday reminder app is normally not something you would open every day the automatic optimizations are applied after a few days. The question is what are the effects of the optimization and how does it work?

Official documentation on the Smart Manager app was not to be found so observation of the behavior of our Birthday reminder app was used to figure out the effects. The recently introduced event log in the Birthday app was used as measuring device. At certain points within the app log entries are written to a local database keeping track for instance of whether the alarms fired on time. By having the logging within our own database it is easy to provide a dedicated page within the app showing the entries and also perform consistency checks. For example, an update is scheduled for midnight each day using the Android system AlarmManager. The log keeps track of when the event was scheduled and the time it was supposed to happen allowing to check afterwards if the event really occured on time.

... To find out if the Smart Manager app influences the behavior of the Birthday app, the app optimization setting was switched to "Always Power Saving" for the Birthday app. The device was disconnected from power then switched off for 2 days. Afterwards what we would have liked to see in the event log were two entries at midnight indicating the notification check was performed and the widgets were updated.

Instead there were no entries at all during the two day time period in the event log. This means the system completely ignored or blocked the alarms scheduled for the app making it look as if the app is broken. Without any documentation there is only speculation. In this case it seems as if the Smart Manager forces the app to stop if no user interaction happens.

The Android system provides its own set of functions allowing the apps to choose whether they need updates scheduled at specific times or if the events are not urgent and can be delayed allowing the system to group several updates into one time slot. A well implemented app uses the type of alarm best fitting its intended use keeping battery optimization in mind. For these apps the way the Smart Manager works at this point in time could be considered harmful as it interferes with the normal behavior of apps. Any app which provides reminders at fixed times may be affected by the optimizations and stop working properly.

... The Smart Manager app is helpful if you use an app which does not choose to follow the guidelines for Android development properly and performs lots of background processing while draining your battery. For apps following the guidelines it is better to disable the app optimizations completely.

For our Birthday reminder it is recommended to disable app optimization. If you are unsure about battery usage check the event log in the Debugging section of the Settings. Timing information is part of the log allowing to judge how long the app is performing background work.

For the Better Timer the recommendation is also to switch off battery optimizations. The same effect as for the Birthday app could be observed here as well when leaving the app while scheduling long running timers.