There’s nothing quite like having your Chromebook dump power by the truckload and have absolutely no explanation as to why it’s happening. Unfortunately, that exactly the experience that dozens of Chromebook users are reporting in the Chromebook Support Forum. The culprit appears to be a process specific to Google Play Services but there is no rhyme or reason surrounding which devices are being affected. As a matter of fact, the bug that is causing CPU usage as high as 100% is being reported in various forums by Android phone users as well.
The root of the issue stems from the
com.android.vending:download_service from Android. If I am understanding the bug reports, this is the service responsible for pinging the Play Store to look for updates to applications and services. It runs automatically at predetermined intervals and is a background service that you never really see from the front end of Android or Chrome OS. That is when it is working properly. The bug that is going around is causing the download service to run non-stop for long periods of time and that is resulting in maxed-out CPU usage and in some cases, seriously high thermal outputs. One comment in the bug report states that the keyboard of the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook gets so hot that it is uncomfortable to use. This is, in part, due to the lack of active cooling but still, the non-stop CPU usage of this Android services is the real villain in this story.
Initially, it looked as if developers didn’t think this issue was that pressing. The original bug report, which is now listed as private, was marked Priority 2 which is relatively low as Priority 3 is the lowest priority rating. However, five separate bug reports have now been opened in the CR Bug tracker with one of those being listed as a Priority 0. That’s the highest priority level a bug can get. Another comment from one developer points out why this has been escalated.
This has hit me on two Chromebooks in two days (one corp, one personal). It’s possible that this will hit big on Monday morning when kids go back to school.CR Bug Tracker
Nailed it. Nothing will be worse than millions of students having their devices power down in the middle of the school day because Android taxed their batteries. Even worse, live video conferencing will surely be hindered if the app service is devouring precious CPU power. Thankfully, one developer has pointed out what the apparent issue is that’s causing the problem.
quick update — there’s definitely an off-by-one somewhere that is causing output_from_time() to infinitely loop
So, the problem has been identified. The service is calling back to play services indefinitely instead of the intended preset frequency. Unfortunately, a fix has not yet been rolled out in an update for Chrome OS or Android. So, what can you do if you are experiencing high CPU usage? Well, there are a few tips to be found in the Chromebook Support Forum. Some of which may work or they may not. Let’s take a look at how to circumvent this bug while we’re waiting for developers to find a fix.
Say no to Android Apps
This solution may not be the best for all users but for more, it is the quickest and easiest way to avoid this nasty little bug. I don’t use Android Apps on my Chromebook unless I’m specifically testing something. Therefore, disabling the Play Store is a sure-fire way to eliminate this problem. You can simply head to your Chrome OS settings and turn the Play Store off. (I understand that this is of no help if you are having the issue on a mobile device.)
Disable the process
This method may not be a permanent fix but it will give your device some reprieve from the consequences of the bug. The quickest way, should you need it, is to open your Chromebook task manager by clicking Search+Esc. Find the process labeled
com.android.vending:download_service, highlight it and click “end process” at the bottom of the window.(The CPU usage should be very high for this process. If it’s not, you shouldn’t be experiencing the effects of this bug.) This will temporarily disable the download service but it may and likely will spin back up when you restart your device. There is also no guarantee that it won’t cause issues with Google Play Services on your device.
An additional and more useful step would be to disable automatic downloads in your Android settings. Open the Play Store on your Chromebook and click the three-bar menu at the top left. Open the settings page and select “Auto-update apps.” Set this to not auto-update and theoretically, the download service should stop running. Under the setting “App download preference,” switch the setting to “Ask me every time.” Again, this isn’t a permanent fix but it may help in getting through the workday without your battery going kaput.
That’s about all we can do at this point. However, if you’d like to keep tabs on this bug, you can do so by starring these issues in the Chromium Bug Tracker as well as following along in the Support Forum. That said, do me and the developers a favor. DO NOT SPAM THREADS WITH “ME TOO” COMMENTS. If you want to submit feedback to assist in squashing this bug, do so from your affected device. Press Alt+Shift+i and send your system info to the bug tracker. In the comments, mention the feedback Bug #1132376 and any pertinent information that you may have. That is all you need to do and the best way that you can help the developers in fixing this issue. That is all.