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We Need More Energy-Efficient Smartphone Apps

Debba Boles

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Smartphone apps are like battery vampires. They suck the charge right out of your battery. The more data the app downloads, the more battery life it drains. A group of researchers at ATT Labs is trying to rectify that. They have discovered that it isn’t the Smartphone at fault. It’s the apps that are sucking all the juice. Pandora is one of the biggest culprits, so it’s not surprising that the first two apps ATT is testing are Pandora and Facebook.

Android users suffer more than iPhone users with battery draining apps. According to data released by Nielsen, “although iPhone users engage in as much or more data-intensive activities (downloading apps, streaming music or video), as Android users, Android phones gobble up more monthly data. Each month, Androids are consuming 90MB more data than iPhone users. ” The research shows that it isn’t the OS that matters however; it is the apps.

The problem is in how the data is downloaded. It is the scatter-burst transmission of small packets rather than bundling the packets into a single transmission that causes the app to be a battery drain. The solution of bundling the packets into a single transmission would result in approximately 40% energy savings.

App developers need to focus on energy efficient apps. According to an article released by ATT Research, “they have developed a tool that helps app developers figure out when their apps really need full power connections (download speeds of around 7.1 Mbits/sec) or when the app can get by on a proposed “intermediate state" which consumes half the power and transmits less data at a slower speed, typically by sharing a low-speed channel, (often 16 kbps). ”

Until they come up with more energy efficient apps, what can you do to save battery life? I use Advanced App Killer and periodically kill all the apps running in the background. I bought a Droid X extended battery and am very pleased with the results. I am a pretty heavy user and can usually get 1 ½ to 2 days out of my battery before charging. Hopefully before I upgrade to another Smartphone next year the app developers will be smarter in battery usage.

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