Google Aware of Memory Leakage Issue in Android 5.1, Fix Forthcoming

Google is prepping a fix for Android users to address a meddlesome memory leakage issue that’s plagued some device users since the beginning of the year.

Google is prepping a fix for Android users that addresses a meddlesome memory leakage issue that’s plagued some device users since the end of last year.

The issue, present in versions 5.0.1 and 5.1 of the mobile operating system code-named Lollipop, has been causing irregular application activity on several Nexus devices for weeks. In some instances, users have apparently experienced issues launching apps and seen apps randomly restarting, often without opening or changing any application.

The most prevalent issue users have witnessed has been a massive surge in memory usage. On an issue tracker for the for the bug on Android’s Open Source Project (AOSP) late last week some users reported seeing their RAM bloat to over 1 gigabyte and leave as little as 150 megabytes free, before their phones ultimately crashed.

Users claim they’ve seen their phone’s system memory swell, usually after opening a game, then dismissing it. Even if apps are closed however, the phone will go on to gobble up memory until there’s no more space and the device stops responding.

The issue – mostly seen in Nexus 5 devices – has lingered since December 2014, when Google pushed 5.0.1 to Nexus devices, but resurfaced in 5.1, which was rolled out last week.

“Memory leak not fixed,” one user wrote on AOSP last week, “I’ve had system RAM bloated over 1GB, processes restarting and launcher redraws.”

The issue was closed at Android’s Issue Tracker on Friday when a Google project member acknowledged the issue had been “fixed internally,” but added that the company did not have a timetable for public release.

The bug’s status was also changed from “New” to “FutureRelease” on Friday, suggesting a fix is forthcoming, perhaps in 5.1.1, but emails to Google inquiring exactly when that fix would come were not immediately replied to on Monday

Android’s security team has been busy over the past several months addressing issues that have popped up in Lollipop. In November it fixed a vulnerability that could have allowed an attacker to bypass ASLR and run arbitrary code on a target device under certain circumstances. In January the company took some heat for not fixing a bug in the WebView component of the OS on Jelly Bean 4.3, or older. Security engineers for Android later clarified that the issue would really be best fixed by OEMs and that it’s not practical for Google to push patches for older vulnerabilities.

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