Apps cause big-time battery drain (Part 2)

In part 1 we discussed an effort by Apple to monitor its iPhone users' usage and battery charge habits. The company's attempt to better individualize battery functionality includes the filing of a recent U.S. patent which promises the creation of a power management program tailored to both monitoring individual battery usage and making modifications based on the analytics it amasses. But because that patent application was filed March 20, 2014 it will likely be a while before the technology is put into effect. In the meantime, iPhone users must monitor their own smartphone use to ensure that excess battery drain won't put them in need of an iPhone battery replacement. To help encourage battery use tracking, we've put together a list of some apps that are notoriously battery-sucking. Prolonging your battery a life may be a simple matter of either adjusting the settings or limiting the use of these programs.

1. Facebook: The social media giant's app is extremely popular, and in fact many people do the majority of their Facebooking through their iPhones. The app functions almost exactly as it would on the computer, providing chat capabilities, to-the-second updates and full viewing capabilities. But the sophistication and breadth of the app means it is also a huge energy sucker, as one stealthy blogger at hagga_blog found. The blogger one day noticed that his iPhone 4s – which hadn't given him battery concerns in the past – was plummeting to a 10 percent charge by the end of his workday. This abnormality irked him, since he didn't get what would be causing the sudden decrease. But he found the answer when running Instruments, which is the iPhone equivalent of Activity Monitor on a computer. Instruments informed him that Facebook was eating up the vast majority of his CPU.

The blogger dug deeper into the problem for answers. By running a monitor of Facebook's minute-by-minute activity, he was able to uncover the answer. The problem is that the app would perform tasks even when ostensibly inactive. Despite the blogger pushing the Home screen away from the app, he noticed that even during these periods Facebook would wake itself up and perform a task for 10 seconds, the maximum time allowed by Apple. But unlike other apps, Facebook would continue this process even when not in use: waking itself up every couple minutes to complete 10 seconds of work, going back to sleep, and then starting the process again. The accumulation of time the app spend active even when apparently sleeping led to it commandeering the blogger's memory capacity. To fix the problem, the blogger decided to fully quit out of the app after every use, and soon discovered his battery issue was gone.

2. Google Maps: Mitch Bartlett, a blogger at PhoneTipz, found himself in a similar predicadent to the battery-drained Facebooker when he noticed that his Android's battery wasn't working as well as it used to. Like the other blogger, he did a little investigation into his phone's memory usage, and discovered that Google Maps was chewing away at the majority of his battery life. So what is it about Maps that is so consuming? As Bartlett found, it was the app's Latitude Service, whose function was to share your location information with friends. The feature proved detrimental to battery life, slurping up charge like a milkshake}. But Barlett's discovery was made in 2012, and fortunately for other Google Maps users, Latitude Service has since been removed from Maps, according to Google. However, as Barlett points out, any app that has location tracking services enabled will experience a decrease in battery life, and Maps still has that service. To maximize battery life, use location tracking sparingly, and keep it shut off otherwise.

3. Angry Birds: Ah, Angry Birds. A game of such simple fun that it transcends generations. Corporate execs and preteens alike are bound to be seen playing the game at any idle moment, and its popularity as an app is without precedent. So it should come as no surprise that the makers of the game sought to monetize their success, and they did so with third party ads during gameplay. Unfortunately for users, the presence of these ads leads to a particular consequence – you guessed it: battery drain, according to TGDaily. A study carried out by Purdue University found that a mere 20 percent of the app's energy consumption could be traced to gameplay itself, whereas half was a result of the location services relied on to generate user-targeted ads. Like the Facebook app, Angry Birds also took advantage of the post-use 10 seconds allowed by Apple to carry out functionality relying on the user's 3G, a process that taxed battery life even more. 

Marcelina Hardy

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