Enhanced Statistics for Android Pie and Later

Android continues to throw wrenches into how GSam Battery Monitor gathers statistics.  That said, the changes are for the most part good from a security perspective, and Google has made it possible to continue to access much of the data - it just requires some re-work.

Standard vs Enhanced Stats

Standard:  For standard statistics (what you get if you don't run any ADB commands), GSam tracks things like bluetooth, phone, network, and screen usage using standard Android interfaces.  These all require GSam to be running at all times as a service in the background.  GSam is pretty efficient, so should have negligible impact on the battery.

Enhanced:  In enhanced mode, the user needs to provide GSam with access to the BATTERY_STATS permission.  This allows GSam to access a wealth of data that Android collects.  In KitKat, Android removed the ability for apps to request access to this permission.  However in Lollipop and beyond, they partially restored the ability by allowing the user to explicitly grant an app access via ADB.  This requires the user to connect their phone to a computer, install ADB, and run a command.  Doing so is worth the effort in terms of the stats you get, however I don't expect most users to do this!

Enhanced Changes in Android P

As of GSam version 3.39, GSam will use a combination of Standard and Enhanced mode to gather statistics.  That is, for system wide stats, it uses the Standard mode, and for App specific stats (visible in the App Sucker screens), GSam will use the Enhanced mode.

The reason for this is complex.  
  1. Google requires all apps to have a Target SDK version of n or n-1 in order to publish an update to the Play Store.  In other words, if the latest version of Android is Q, you must have a target SDK version of P or later.  This means that Version 3.39 of GSam requires updating the Target SDK to P.  Doing so has consequences.
  2. Android has started restricting access to non-public interfaces.  Unfortunately, GSam relies heavily on non-public interfaces and a technique called reflection.  Android allowed older apps to continue to access the APIs so as not to break things, but any updated app must conform to the new rules.  This all makes good sense - it just breaks GSam :).
Fortunately, Android is providing a similar level of access to battery statistics for applications via the HealthStats API.  So GSam 3.39 is written to take advantage of these formal interfaces for access to all app specific statistics.  These still require access to the BATTERY_STATS permission, but otherwise provide (almost) the same level of detail (see below for limitations and workaround).

Limitations For Enhanced Stats in P and Later (see below for workaround)

System Wide Stats:
  1. Screen Brightness Levels:  We don't track this due to the performance impact tracking it would have (the brightness changes too often).
  2. Phone Radio Signal Levels:  We don't track this for the same reason we don't track screen brightness.
Application Stats (under App Usage / App Sucker):
  1. Multiple Profiles - such as personal vs work profile:  Android has the ability to have multiple profiles.  Often your work apps are running in a work profile separately from those apps in your personal profile.  You'll likely notice you may have to install the same app in both profiles.  For security reasons, GSam can't gather information on applications running outside of the profile in which it's running for security reasons.  So - if you need details on the app usage in your work profile, you'll need to install another instance of GSam in your work profile.  Yes, this is a pretty big limitation if you have work profiles (fortunately most users don't) - see below for a workaround.
  2. CPU Stepping:  The power that the CPU uses can't be determined quite as accurately.  Previously, GSam would look at how much time the app spent running at different CPU frequencies (which all draw different levels of power).  Now, we have to collapse all the frequencies into one bucket and average them out.
  3. Kernel Wakelocks:  There is no longer a way to gather kernel wakelocks.  

Workaround - Restore Full Enhanced Stats

Fortunately, it IS possible to restore fully enhanced stats, even on P and Q by allowing GSam to access what Android has deemed hidden apis.  It requires running another ADB command, and more importantly, is not specific to GSam.  In short, it not only allows GSam to access hidden APIs, but allows ANY app to access the hidden APIs.

Is this a security concern?  Yes - sort of.  That said, older apps can still access these APIs, but it is something Google is trying to ween people from.   From a security perspective, it allows GSam to access statistics on apps that are outside of its profile.

On Android Q and later, run the following ADB command:

adb shell settings put global hidden_api_policy 1

On Android P, run the following ADB command:
adb shell settings put global hidden_api_policy_p_apps 1

Finally, restart GSam (force close it).

Comments

  1. Is that setting persistent? Do the hidden APIs remain enabled after a reboot?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I used the adb command to allow global access ( adb shell settings put global hidden_api_policy 1 ) and changed my mind. How do I revoke that permission?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just put this adb command:

      adb shell settings put global hidden_api_policy 0

      You can test it by this:

      adb shell settings get global hidden_api_policy

      Delete
  3. I get permission denial... Why?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In other words, if the latest version of Android is Q, you must have a target SDK version of P or later.
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  4. I got permission denial on both commands. Android 10 on Realme X2 Pro.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The same thing with Realme 5 pro on Android 10

      Delete
    2. C:\Program Files (x86)\Minimal ADB and Fastboot>adb shell pm grant com.gsamlabs.bbm android.permission.BATTERY_STATS
      Security exception: grantRuntimePermission: Neither user 2000 nor current process has android.permission.GRANT_RUNTIME_PERMISSIONS.

      java.lang.SecurityException: grantRuntimePermission: Neither user 2000 nor current process has android.permission.GRANT_RUNTIME_PERMISSIONS.

      Delete
    3. C:\Program Files (x86)\Minimal ADB and Fastboot>adb shell settings put global hidden_api_policy 1
      Security exception: Permission denial: writing to settings requires:android.permission.WRITE_SECURE_SETTINGS

      java.lang.SecurityException: Permission denial: writing to settings requires:android.permission.WRITE_SECURE_SETTINGS

      Delete
    4. I'm using realme XT, you need to enable one more option in dev. Options. Disable permission monitoring. Just scroll down to bottom, you should find it down there. Then re-run the command in adb, it should work now.

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    5. I have a Poco X3 and I needed enable one more option in dev options (it wasn't disable permission monitoring on my phone) called [USB debugging (Security settings)]

      Delete
  5. Great app but I have a question. What is the advantage of running the command "adb shell settings put global hidden_api_policy 1"? More detailed statistics? Of course I have run the command "adb shell pm grant com.gsamlabs.bbm.pro android.permission.BATTERY_STATS".

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  8. Anyone know how to fix the Video On wakelock? I have to restart my phone everyday to get rid of it and it's happening to many different apps.

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  9. Has anyone gotten this to work on a Pixel 5? I just got my phone, and I'm trying to see if I can live without root.

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  10. Hi, there seem to be other methods to deal with hidden_api_policy
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  28. It is important to note that restoring fully enhanced stats on P and Q by allowing GSam to access hidden APIs may pose a security concern, as it allows not only GSam but any app to access these hidden APIs. However, older apps can still access these APIs, and Google is trying to encourage developers to use formal interfaces such as the HealthStats API instead of relying on non-public interfaces. It is worth considering the potential security implications before using this workaround. cincinnatiseo.org/

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  42. Great insights into the enhanced statistics for Android Pie and later! It's impressive to see how technology continues to evolve. I appreciate the detailed explanation of the new features. On a related note, I wonder how these enhancements might impact battery life. Looking forward to more updates in the Android ecosystem!

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  47. Hello. Fantastic app, I have purchased your professional version, as when I had a rooted phone it worked perfectly! However I moved to a no rooted phone for security reasons, and now whenever I grant BATTERY_STATS permissions through ADB, both your app's statistics mess up, all showing "Drain Type Name" for all categories, and "Used%1$%% in %2$s" at the top, and if I click on a category it shows " NaN% of battery consumed by" with no data.

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