Android Oreo’s “Rescue Party” Bootloop Safety Net


Google released Android 8.0 Oreo on August 21, 2017 for a small number of handsets such as the LG Google Nexus 5X. The new platform brings a raft of new features and today I’m writing about the new “Rescue Party.” As you might expect from the name, I’d hope that you never have to rely on this part of Android, which goes into the category of “features we hope to never use,” sitting next to “features to use once” (coughs Samsung). The Rescue Party part of Android Oreo is designed to recover your device into a functional state should something go wrong.

The Rescue Party part of Google Oreo is built to get your device out of a bootloop. A bootloop is the technical term given when the device, err, doesn’t complete a boot but instead starts the process before completing. When an Android device gets stuck into a bootloop, without any action it will continue until it runs out of battery. Sometimes, user intervention can kickstart the device: if there is a serious software corruption, one recourse is to reset the handset. This badly shot picture shows my Nexus 5X suffering from a bootloop.

The new Rescue Party part of Android has two different methods of helping a customer recover a device. It isn’t going to recover all devices – in the case of the Nexus 5X, this was probably a hardware fault, and Google replaced the whole device.

Still, the software is there to help if it can and the first instance when it is triggered is if the “system_server” function restarts more than five times in five minutes. It may also be triggered if a persistent system app crashes more than five times in thirty seconds. Should these circumstances occur, usually there’s a serious software problem with the device, and so the Rescue Party goes to work performing a series of recovery tasks. The device will escalate the level of intervention as it progresses by clearing data or resetting progressively more options until either the device reboots, the app stops crashing, or the Rescue Party has exhausted all options and puts the handset into Recovery Mode where the customer is able to perform a factory reset.

The Rescue Party should help reduce support calls, as the software can guide customers through the process of recovering their device. For manufacturers and Google, it’s a more satisfactory solution than hoping customers use Google or a more knowledgeable friend or family member.

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