Jun 3rd, 2011

Oh, boy. In a conversation where the topic steered on over to poor battery life in phones, Sanjay Jha says apps in the Android market who aren’t written properly are to blame. He claims that 30%-40% of a users’ quick battery drain is due to third-party applications from the Android market, suggesting users need to cut down on apps or closely consider what they’re installing.

He says Blur can, in the future, warn users about specific applications which can have a large impact on battery drain. As I don’t know the ins and outs of Blur, I can’t say for certain that Blur and other custom user interfaces cause battery life and, in some cases, poor device performance. But I do know that people see vast improvements in both these areas when using custom ROMs that strip out all of the fluff that users feel shouldn’t be there.

It reminds me of the Carrier IQ debacle with Sprint’s Samsung (and possibly other OEMs) phones. ROM developers of the Samsung Epic 4G discovered Carrier IQ’s presence in the phone, but they didn’t want to believe that all they collected were metrics in order to gather and report trends for carriers. No, they sat much deeper within the underlying operating system with code that can read your SMS and MMS messages, browsing sessions, battery change notifications, every XML file and every stroke on the device’s physical keyboard.

It records which applications you use, which type they are, and how long you use them. And even every touch on the device’s touch screen is recorded. The only positive note to take out of all of that is that Carrier IQ doesn’t actually store any of this information in its log files, meaning they aren’t technically collecting the data.

Privacy concerns aside (this is about battery life, after all) k0nane – the famed developer of Android Creative Syndicate who uncovered this stuff – found that removing it actually improved battery life and system performance greatly. Being a user of a Samsung Epic 4G myself using a ROM with CIQ disabled, I can say that this is absolutely true.

Who’s to say whatever Motorola is injecting into BLUR isn’t to blame for poor battery life? Or HTC for Sense? And Samsung for TouchWiz? I don’t think it’s right to blame third party applications for poor battery life and system performance without much proof or any scientific evidence. Whether or not it’s true I can’t say, but I definitely won’t believe that carrier and OEM customizations have absolutely nothing to do with it. [Engadget]

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