Google Messages error leaves camera on, draining battery

A new bug in Google Messages is leaving the camera running in the background, quickly draining your battery and heating up your device.

Update: Google has started rolling out a fix for the Messages app.

Inside the Google Messages app, there’s an easy way to quickly take a photo, immediately attach it to a message, and send it to a friend. In the view attach photos from your gallery there is also a live feed from the camera to either take an instant snapshot of the thumbnail view or you can expand it for a better view.

In recent updates to the Google Messages app, it has also been spotted on one of our own devices as well I mentioned on RedditSometimes, an app bug causes this camera feed to play even when it’s not on the screen – including when messages are in the background. In our experience, this causes significant battery drain and gets hot, as you’d expect.

Since there was no apparent reason for the increased usage, we had to track down the issue using Android 12 privacy indicators for the camera and microphone. When the issue occurs, your Android 12 will show that Google Messages is actively using the camera. The easiest way to stop the problem at the moment is to close the application from the “recent” view.

Update 4/22: in a statement the edgeGoogle has confirmed that the cause of this battery drain error has been identified and a permanent solution is already being rolled out for users of the Google Messages app. It is not clear which version the fix will contain. The latest beta version of Google Messages was released on April 19th.

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More broadly, if you’re not using the viewfinder in Google Messages, the easiest way to stop this issue completely in the short term is to deny the app permission to use your phone’s camera. To do this on a Pixel phone, press and hold the Messages app icon in the launcher and tap the info icon. This should take you to the Settings app, where you can tap on “Permissions” to manage what Google Messages is allowed to do. From here, you’ll want to tap on “Camera” and set the toggle to “Don’t allow.”

If you encounter anything like this issue on your phone, let us know in the comments, including which phone you’re using and whether you’re signed up for beta updates for Google Messages.

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