Keep the device awake

To avoid draining the battery, an Android device that is left idle quickly falls asleep. However, there are times when an application needs to wake up the screen or the CPU and keep it awake to complete some work.

The approach you take depends on the needs of your app. However, a general rule of thumb is that you should use the most lightweight approach possible for your app, to minimize your app's impact on system resources. The following sections describe how to handle the cases where the device's default sleep behavior is incompatible with the requirements of your app.

Alternatives to using wake locks

Before adding wakelock support to your app, consider whether your app's use cases support one of the following alternative solutions:

  • If your app is performing long-running HTTP downloads, consider using DownloadManager.

  • If your app is synchronizing data from an external server, consider creating a sync adapter.

  • If your app relies on background services, consider using JobScheduler or Firebase Cloud Messaging to trigger these services at specific intervals.

  • If you need to keep your companion app running whenever a companion device is within range, use Companion Device Manager.

Keep the screen on

Certain apps need to keep the screen turned on, such as games or movie apps. The best way to do this is to use the FLAG_KEEP_SCREEN_ON in your activity (and only in an activity, never in a service or other app component). For example:


class MainActivity : Activity() {

    override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) {


public class MainActivity extends Activity {
  protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

The advantage of this approach is that unlike wake locks (discussed in Keep the CPU On), it doesn't require special permission, and the platform correctly manages the user moving between applications, without your app needing to worry about releasing unused resources.

Another way to implement this is in your application's layout XML file, by using the android:keepScreenOn attribute:

<RelativeLayout xmlns:android=""

Using android:keepScreenOn="true" is equivalent to using FLAG_KEEP_SCREEN_ON. You can use whichever approach is best for your app. The advantage of setting the flag programmatically in your activity is that it gives you the option of programmatically clearing the flag later and thereby allowing the screen to turn off.

Ambient Mode for TV

On TV, FLAG_KEEP_SCREEN_ON should be used to prevent the device from going into Ambient Mode during active video playback. When FLAG_KEEP_SCREEN_ON is not set by the foreground activity, the device will automatically enter Ambient Mode after a period of inactivity.

Keep the CPU on

If you need to keep the CPU running in order to complete some work before the device goes to sleep, you can use a PowerManager system service feature called wake locks. Wake locks allow your application to control the power state of the host device.

Creating and holding wake locks can have a dramatic impact on the host device's battery life. Thus you should use wake locks only when strictly necessary and hold them for as short a time as possible. For example, you should never need to use a wake lock in an activity. As described above, if you want to keep the screen on in your activity, use FLAG_KEEP_SCREEN_ON.

One legitimate case for using a wake lock might be a background service that needs to grab a wake lock to keep the CPU running to do work while the screen is off. Again, though, this practice should be minimized because of its impact on battery life.

To use a wake lock, the first step is to add the WAKE_LOCK permission to your application's manifest file:

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.WAKE_LOCK" />

If your app includes a broadcast receiver that uses a service to do some work, here is how you set a wake lock directly:


val wakeLock: PowerManager.WakeLock =
        (getSystemService(Context.POWER_SERVICE) as PowerManager).run {
            newWakeLock(PowerManager.PARTIAL_WAKE_LOCK, "MyApp::MyWakelockTag").apply {


PowerManager powerManager = (PowerManager) getSystemService(POWER_SERVICE);
WakeLock wakeLock = powerManager.newWakeLock(PowerManager.PARTIAL_WAKE_LOCK,

To release the wake lock, call wakelock.release(). This releases your claim to the CPU. It's important to release a wake lock as soon as your app is finished using it to avoid draining the battery.