How do I stop apps from taking over my audio?

Apps taking over a device’s audio output is a common issue many users face. This happens when an app activates “audio focus” and takes priority over other audio playback on the device. The app essentially hijacks the audio and prevents other apps from playing sound until it releases audio focus. This can be frustrating if you want to listen to music or take a call while using certain apps.

Audio focus enables apps to duck or pause other audio when they need to play a notification or alert. However, some apps take audio focus unnecessarily and hold onto it, disrupting your ability to multitask. Understanding how apps obtain audio focus and implementing solutions to limit this behavior can help you regain control of your device’s audio.

Understanding Audio Focus

Audio focus refers to how mobile operating systems like Android and iOS manage audio playback from different apps to avoid conflicts. Only one app can have audio focus at a time to play sound. When another app requests audio focus, the system will mute or duck the audio of the app that currently has focus [1].

The system coordinates audio focus between apps to ensure a smooth user experience. When an app starts playing audio, it requests audio focus from the system. The app will only get focus if no other higher priority audio is playing. The system can then mute, pause, or duck the previous audio when granting focus to the new app [2].

An app should always check if it has audio focus before playing sounds. It needs to listen for changes in focus and respond appropriately by reducing volume or pausing. This prevents audio clashes between apps competing for output [3].

Identify Problematic Apps

One of the best ways to find apps that are causing audio issues is to use Android’s systrace tool. As explained in this article, systrace shows exactly what’s happening across processes and CPU cores, allowing you to pinpoint problematic apps.

Another tip is to pay attention to notifications from other apps that say “Another app is controlling your audio.” This is an indication that a background app is interfering with whichever app you are currently trying to use. Details on this notification are covered in this YouTube video.

You can also go through your list of installed apps and update, uninstall, or clear the cache/data of apps you don’t use regularly. This may identify an outdated or misbehaving app that is causing conflicts.

Overall, being aware of notifications, using debugging tools, and managing your apps can help determine if a particular app is responsible for audio issues.

Disable Unnecessary Audio Permissions

One way to stop apps from taking over your audio is to disable unnecessary audio permissions for apps that don’t need access to your microphone. Here’s how to disable audio permissions on Android:

Open the Settings app and go to Apps & Notifications. Tap App Permissions and then Microphone. Here you’ll see a list of apps that have requested microphone access.

Tap on any app you want to revoke microphone access for and toggle the permission off. For example, if a game has microphone access but doesn’t need it, you can disable the microphone permission for that app.

Be careful not to disable microphone access for apps that need it like video calling apps or voice assistant apps. Only disable the microphone for apps that clearly don’t require it.

You can also manage app permissions directly from the app info screen. Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > See all apps. Tap on an app and go to Permissions to toggle microphone access off.

Restricting microphone access for unnecessary apps will prevent them from grabbing audio focus and taking over your microphone when you don’t want them to.

For more information, check out this helpful guide: How To Disable Microphone And Camera On Android?

Use Do Not Disturb

Enabling Do Not Disturb on your device is an effective way to block notifications from interrupting your audio. When turned on, Do Not Disturb will mute all sounds and vibrations from notifications. You can customize Do Not Disturb to allow exceptions for specific contacts or repeated calls.

To enable Do Not Disturb on Android:

  • Open Settings and select Sound or Notifications.
  • Tap Do Not Disturb and toggle it on.
  • You can schedule Do Not Disturb for certain times or allow exceptions by tapping on the Gear icon.

On an iPhone:

  • Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open Control Center.
  • Tap the Crescent Moon icon to enable Do Not Disturb.
  • Customize options in Settings > Do Not Disturb.

With Do Not Disturb enabled, you won’t be bothered by notifications while using audio apps. You can still allow important calls or messages to come through by adjusting the exceptions in your Do Not Disturb settings (source).

Limit Background App Refresh

One way to reduce background audio on iOS is to limit Background App Refresh. This feature allows apps to refresh their content in the background when not in active use. However, it can also allow apps to play audio when you aren’t actively using them.

To limit Background App Refresh on iOS [1]:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh.
  2. Tap Background App Refresh and select either Wi-Fi or Off.
  3. With Wi-Fi selected, background refresh will only occur when connected to Wi-Fi. With Off selected, it will be disabled entirely.

Limiting Background App Refresh prevents apps from constantly refreshing content and accessing the microphone in the background unnecessarily. This can reduce cases of apps taking over your device’s audio when not in use.

However, some apps may not function properly without Background App Refresh, so keep this in mind. You can selectively enable it for certain apps if needed. Overall, this setting gives you greater control over background activities.

Clear App Cache and Data

Clearing an app’s cache and data can reset the app’s audio settings and permissions. This is an effective troubleshooting step if a particular app is taking over your device’s audio against your preferences.

To clear an app’s cache and data on Android:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps.
  2. Select the problematic app.
  3. Tap Storage.
  4. Tap Clear Cache to clear the app’s cache.
  5. Tap Clear Data to clear the app’s data and cache. This resets the app to its default state.

According to Android Police, clearing an app’s data resets its settings and permissions. So this should revoke any unauthorized audio access granted to the app. However, you will lose preferences and login details, so you’ll have to reconfigure the app afterwards.

This method works on both Android and Samsung devices. Just be aware it clears storage for only one app at a time. To clear cache for all apps, you would need to factory reset the device instead.

Update Apps

One solution is to update your apps to the latest versions. App developers frequently release updates that fix bugs and improve performance. An outdated app may have issues properly handling audio focus or background audio, especially after major operating system updates.

Open the App Store on iOS or Play Store on Android and go to the Updates section. Install any available updates. You can also enable automatic updates in your device settings. This will keep your apps updated in the background without any effort.

Check release notes for recent app updates and look for any mentions of fixes related to audio. For example, a Reddit user reported audio problems after updating to Android 14 that were resolved after updating apps.

If issues persist in a particular app after updating, you may need to uninstall and reinstall that app to completely clear out any problematic cached data.

Factory Reset Device

If you’ve tried all the other troubleshooting steps and your device is still experiencing audio issues, a factory reset may be the last resort to fix the problem. A factory reset will wipe your device and restore it to the original software, settings and apps that came with it when first purchased [1]. This should eliminate any corrupted files or settings causing audio conflicts. However, you’ll lose all your data and customizations in the process.

Before factory resetting, be sure to backup any important data, photos or files you want to keep. You’ll have to reinstall apps and reconfigure settings after the reset as well. It’s a good idea to try less drastic troubleshooting first, but if you can’t resolve the audio problems through other means, a factory reset may fix the issue by fully reverting your device to its original state [2].


Apps taking over device audio when it should be silent can be extremely disruptive and annoying. To recap, there are several ways to prevent this audio hijacking:

  • Identify the main culprit apps that cause audio interruptions and disable unnecessary audio permissions for them.
  • Use your device’s Do Not Disturb mode to mute notifications and media sounds.
  • Limit background app refresh and clear app caches to reduce resource strain.
  • Keep your apps updated for the latest optimizations.
  • As a last resort, reset your device to factory settings to wipe out problematic apps and settings.

Following these tips should give you much greater control over your device’s audio. Restrict permissions for chatty apps, leverage Do Not Disturb when you need to focus, and keep your device optimized. With some trial and error, you can pinpoint the main offenders hijacking your audio and selectively restrict them. Stay persistent, and you can take back control of your device’s sounds.

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