Study: Free mobile apps consume over double the power

By on March 20, 2012, 6:30 PM

According to a study by (PDF) Purdue University and Microsoft, free mobile applications aren't without a catch after all: you're paying for them in battery life. Abhinav Pathak and two of his colleagues designed an energy profiling tool called eprof to analyze the power consumption of five of the top ten most popular Android apps: Angry Birds, MapQuest, Free Chess, the Android browser and the New York Times app.

The team found that only 10-30% of an app's power consumption is directly related to its purpose (such as chess algorithms being calculated in Free Chess), while the remaining 70-90% is consumed by other functionalities that use wireless I/O chips (Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS). Some 70% of the energy drain in Angry Birds is from downloading and displaying ads as well as uploading data such as location information.

While processing technology has matured, developers haven't focused enough on optimizing I/O energy. For example, many apps have an I/O "tail" as they leave their connections open for a breif period after sending or receiving information, wasting energy all the while. If we understand the data right, the "3G tail" in Angry Birds consumed about 52% of the app energy (24% when running, 28% in the process of closing).

Free Chess had a similar breakdown, the Android browser and NY Times app spent about 15% on user tracking, while an I/O-heavy app like MapQuest proved to be particularly wasteful between 3G and GPS tails. Eprof can also flesh out bugs. The researchers discovered a flaw in Facebook's app that prevented the CPU from entering sleep after the app was closed. The paper goes on to offer potential solutions.




User Comments: 14

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Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

So they found out that applications that are heavy on constant processing and/or video graphics consume more power...

Please... TELL ME MORE!

PS: There are apps that limit the connection of other apps, if you would like to stop getting ads and things like that there are others like Adfree.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Kibaruk said:

So they found out that applications that are heavy on constant processing and/or video graphics consume more power...

Please... TELL ME MORE!

Nope that's not what they found ... please READ AGAIN

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I did read, thats the PS for. Still they dont make a comparison with the paid version of apps, that would have been cool.

Guest said:

I think it's easy to understand that the paid versions would clearly use less power without having to see your location and download personalized ads or any ads for that matter. A comparison would be neat but I doubt it would tell us anything we couldn't logically predict.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Kibaruk said:

I did read, thats the PS for. Still they dont make a comparison with the paid version of apps, that would have been cool.

No, I think you <i>really</i> need to read again. Maybe even the source while you are at it.

Also, apps such as Adfree do NOT block ads, they merely hide them; apps still consume unnecessary resources in the background.

Guest said:

If the host is being blocked to prevent the ads from being dowloaded how can bandwidth still be wasted?

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

I use Gemini to stop some apps from starting up when I boot up my phone, or just ones I find running when I never asked them to. When you go to configure an app running when you turn on your phone, you can sometimes see multiple triggers that "wake up" the app.

I think in Android's case, it's too easy to get apps approved, and in turn, it's doing more harm than good. Google is Android's worst enemy IMO.

Guest said:

i thought am the only one that had noted that while on voyage or viber my battery lasts half way longer than while on normal GSM

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Guest said:

If the host is being blocked to prevent the ads from being dowloaded how can bandwidth still be wasted?

just because you cant see doesn't mean it's not happening. Hope the double negative isnt too confusing, lol

Guest said:

"Study sponsored by Microsoft Store Online"

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

trillionsin said:

Guest said:

If the host is being blocked to prevent the ads from being dowloaded how can bandwidth still be wasted?

just because you cant see doesn't mean it's not happening. Hope the double negative isnt too confusing, lol

Uhm, the app tries to send a data connection somewhere, your phone denies it... so according to you the data is still going on and away and back? Yes the power usage of the app processing the request does happen, the connection doesnt.

Guest said:

Don't make assumptions. Adfree works by blocking hosts in the system hosts file. Obviously not hiding ads but preventing them from being downloaded altogether.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

Kibaruk said:

trillionsin said:

Guest said:

If the host is being blocked to prevent the ads from being dowloaded how can bandwidth still be wasted?

just because you cant see doesn't mean it's not happening. Hope the double negative isnt too confusing, lol

Uhm, the app tries to send a data connection somewhere, your phone denies it... so according to you the data is still going on and away and back? Yes the power usage of the app processing the request does happen, the connection doesnt.

According to me..... I was stating a very general fact. Just because someone doesn't see something happen doesn't mean it's not happening. You take it however you want.

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Guest said:

If the host is being blocked to prevent the ads from being dowloaded how can bandwidth still be wasted?

All the android ad blockers do really, is prevent app hosts, and system hosts from downloading data after request.

But here's the thing: they don't block the initiation of the request itself. What I mean is, they don't actually prevent the application from requesting the host, they only nullify the request after the fact. Third-party code can't modify other third-party code. There's a reason why ad blockers that don't require root access can't block ads from apps and games, but can block ads from the stock browser.

Also, I'd like to point out I made a mistake; adfree does prevent data from being downloaded (it has been a while since I owned an Android, I admit). It is still futile, however, as whether it prevents ads from being downloaded or not, it still does nothing to reduce the resource consumption it takes an application to both gather information and then upload a request that will, inevitably, be nullified by adfree or any of the remaining true ad blockers.

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