Study Says Ad-Enabled Android Apps Drastically Affect Battery Life


Many of us don’t care for ads because they tend to get in the way, but a new study suggests you should be worried about your battery life more than anything. A research team from Purdue University and Microsoft shows that apps with ads are probably responsible for about 70% of those apps’ battery usage.

The increased usage seems to be due to an ad’s necessity to gather user metrics, geographical location and downloading the ad itself. They found this behavior in Angry Birds free edition, FreeChess and the New York Times app.

But these issues aren’t isolated to apps with ads, the team says. The browser, for instance, uses 15% of the battery life it consumed for tracking the same information ads do. The solution? Simply code better.

They suggest ad providers code their backend and front-end better, and developers also need to find better ways to do behind-the-scenes work. The study was possible thanks to a tool called EProf which allows developers to see how much energy in each thread in any given app is consuming. They plan to open source the tool sometime soon. Find more information about the EProf tool here. [via New Scientist, thanks Han!]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. The problem is, ad “providers” don’t care.   As long as they’re generating revenue from apps, they could care less what performance hits consumers take.  it’s no different than any other spammer coding Flash or dynamic full screen ads on websites that you have to click through.  They don’t care.     It’s up to google to set rules, or code Android better to force down how much power a simple ad takes up.

    1. They may not care if no other advertisement agencies take measures to increase efficiency, but if one or two begin focusing on efficiency, competition will force others to as well assuming developers are educated on their differences.

      1. I agree. The consumer isn’t the person the ad companies are “selling” to. It’s the developers. Even if there are a handful of apps that do the same thing, the one that’s stable and uses less battery is going to be the most popular. So, ad providers WILL care eventually, since they need the developers. Without the developers, nobody will see their ad. Without the ad, the developers won’t make much money. So if advertisers code their ad better, everyone wins.

  2. Android developers are terrible coders in general. This won’t go away anytime soon

    1. This is one of the most ignorant statements that I’ve read in my entire life. Have you ever checked out any custom ROMs? The entire OS is built by “Android developers.” Some are better than others, but that’s the beauty in open sourced operating systems.

      I’m running Ice Cream Sandwich on my Sensation right now, and it’s more stable than it was with the stock Gingerbread ROM that was loaded from factory.

      Android developers, in general, are better developers than the manufacturers developers.

      1. I don’t know that they’re actually better developers… They just have the consumers’ interests in mind more than the manufacturers. 

      2. Most roms have major problems. Apps always have stupid and annoying problems. Tablet apps still barely exist, and the ones that do, most of them are just phone apps scaled up. Terrible use of space and real estate.

        But keep sucking their dicks so you can get a rom of semi working ICS that Google is supposed to support  you with 

        1. lol ICS on my phone is more stable than when it shipped. Honestly, you kinda suck at trolling dude.

  3. There needs to be an app that blocks all ads from running in any app.  Does this not exist?

    1.  yes if you root your device.

    2. Yes, but it is ad supported.

    3. On one hand, intentionally modifying your device to deny a developer ad revenue is no better than pirating a paid app.  On the other hand, if advertisers pay per click, and you never click anyway, why does it matter if the add actually displays?

      1. 95% of my apps are paid for because I get enough ads EVERYWHERE else that I don’t want them on my handset. If a dev doesn’t respect their users enough to offer a version without ads for a few dollars then … screw them. 

        Android users are always getting a hard time for not wanting to pay for mobile apps .. well, that’s just not the case in every situation. I’m not giving a ToDo app a bunch of unneeded access just so I can save 0.99 cents.

  4. Is that gingerbread… Photoshopped onto a galaxy nexus?? Travesty!!

    1. A rooted Gnex is able to run other roms and most are able to be themed. It’s person choice .. not a travesty. ;)

  5. I have found the best way is to pay the $1 or 2 and not have adds. I was pleased when Words With Friends came out the a paid Android version. Why do we have such a “give it to me free, and make it easy as well?”

  6. In other news, the Sun is estimated to be hot! Adds drain battery? Well no $#!+

  7. I usually pay for apps that remove the ads in paid versions. Compared to iOS spending for apps is still much lower on Android. And I actually prefer to support devs who develop on Android personally than having them to wait for the slow revenue stream of ad payments.

  8. “A research team from Purdue University and Microsoft”

    I stopped reading right there. A study by Microsoft found something wrong with Android, eh? You don’t say…

    1. Microsoft likes to badmouth their competitors when their products don’t do well. I remember nokia doing something similar a while back. What is the mobile OS market share for win phone 7 at right now? Last time I remember hearing about it, it was somewhere around 1% and slowly losing ground. They are having trouble looking good, so they try to make everyone else look bad.

      1. And yet the facts remain. They’re right, and any developer should understand this (even a greenhorn like me). Whether they care enough to optimize is another story.

        1. Indeed, though it wouldn’t surprise me if It was blown out of proportion a little bit. Bad code bad battery, good code good battery. With the right combo of kernel and OS I got an Evo to last 48 hours with a OEM battery. That was very good code O.o

          1. That’s an understatement! I have 5 family members with EVOs and they don’t get 48 hours with extended batteries. 

          2. How much screen on/awake time? 

          3. A good bit, but I don’t know the exact amount as I don’t have the evo anymore. I have the Evo 3D which is a huge letdown. I was using CM7 with a Savaged Zen BFS kernel. I also manage my radios well and don’t turn the brightness up unless I am outdoors. I miss my Evo.

  9. Holy smokes. Android OS should be at 2%. No wonder that phone has no battery life. Adfree is the rooted app I use to block ads. The ROM I’m using now also has ad blocker cooked it. It’s nice never seeing ads, and letting them burn through your battery.

  10. Research shows rooting your Android phone and installing AdFree makes you “DGAF”!

    1. ad free actually consumes more battery than those adds i did a test on a nexus s 4g and a galaxy nexus and it drained it more

      1. Hah. Wrong.

        All apps like AdAway (open source) and AdFree do is download updated lists of known ad server addresses from various sources every couple days, and merges them into a giant /etc/hosts text file that blacklists them at the OS network level.

        It’s impossible for it to use more battery doing this than downloading and displaying the ads. :)

    2. DGAF?

  11. RIGHT ON, Jason H.

  12. “… 
    responsible for about 70% of those apps’ battery usage.” lots of people will probably think this means 70% of your phone’s battery usage, but lets be clear, what this means plain and simple is , (for example) if an app uses 1% of your phone’s battery usage then 70% of that 1% will be from ads within that app, and the other 30% of that 1% of that app’s battery usage (not total phone’s battery usage) is from the functional part of the app. In conclusion, your app still has only used 1% of battery life…. and other things which are running such as the things displayed in the picture in this article on the phone continue to use up the majority of battery life.

  13. Honestly, who cares. Take a look at your battery use. The average app uses what? Maybe 3-4% of your battery usage? I always hear about “New processors twice as good on power”. Again, don’t care. When someone tells me they have doubled the power efficiency of my display, then I will care. The display uses up to 20-40% of the battery. Deal with this……then everything else.

  14. tbh, I kinda thought that was a no s**t kinda thing. If you download anything… it burns battery. Turn that downloading into 10+ ads, battery life depletion. 

  15. this is why i run adblock. 

    1.  adblock FTW

  16. As long as I can get my hands on free apps I’m cool with the battery drainage

    1.  santorum

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