Project Volta is already improving battery life in Android L


Android L Developer Preview DSC06020

One of the big new features in Android L is “Project Volta,” an initiative to improve battery life. This project is similar to “Project Butter” which made Android feel much smoother. We’re hoping Volta has a similar impact, and if early tests are any indication it seems to be making a big difference.

Under tightly controlled conditions many users have reported a 36% increase in battery life. These results don’t even use the new Battery Saver mode, which turns on when 15% of battery remains. Not all of the results were positive. Some users reported drastically worse battery life, but most of those results were due to apps like WhatsApp not being optimized for Android L.

Project Volta uses several new features to get this improved battery life. It has a new API that schedules minor tasks better, a “battery historian” for tracking what is using battery, and ART, the new runtime. Right now Android L is just a developer preview, but so far it seems Google has made some really great changes. Battery life is always an issue with smartphones. If Project Volta can do what it says we will be enjoying more time away from walls.

[via Ars TechnicaXDA Developers]

Joe Fedewa
Ever since I flipped open my first phone I've been obsessed with the devices. I've dabbled in other platforms, but Android is where I feel most at home.

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  1. When the G2 gets “L” the battery life will be ridiculous!

    1. On verizon, i might have to wait 2 yrs for that.

      1. Yeah… Also it is LG so we may never see it officially… But I am sure it will come to us somehow!

    2. my G2 battery life is amaing. this is true. i have yet to switch over to ART however i wont yet since it isnt compatable with xposed. once it is, im switching !

      1. The version of ART in Kit Kat is much different than the version of ART found in Android L. Rovo has said that he will try his best to get xposed to an acceptable level of performance on Android L ART, but he has said xposed will never run on kit kat art.

        1. It sucks that it won’t be possible to make Xposed fully compatible with ART version L.

  2. I get far better battery life on CM11 on my Nexus 5. L preview battery life is good, but nowhere near as good as CM11.

  3. Most of my battery usage is from the screen, so I can’t see how OS optmisations can help much. The 36% must be from users who are mostly in standby.

    (also – wasn’t this leaked as Project Roadrunner some time back? I wonder if that was the original codename).

    1. They have rewritten how the screen is drawn and everything to with the new build so it could very well give better screen on battery life.

      1. That’d be impressive, I hope you’re right.

        1. Me too ;)

      2. Proof or it’s bs.

    2. The 36% increase is from a rundown test on L compared to 4.4.4, not 36% of users.

    3. A lot of what you are seeing in the current version of Android on your battery stats is in accurate as well. If you leave the device on but idle the battery drops between 1% and 4% per hour. This is do to wake locks from apps updating data and not properly returning the device to sleep. Android L fixes a bunch of these issues. Also if you use your phone for voice calls it can drain the battery fast, this could also be fixed with software updates.

      If you combine this with the nee way the screen is drawn, (providing 60fps etc) it should improve battery drastically. This may require all of the apps to be properly updated to run correctly on ART, but when its all said and done 24+ hours of battery life should be a real goal for most phones after the update.

    4. The biggest drainer of battery is the processor…. not the display. The display just has the biggest % of battery drain.

      If you look closely at the numbers you’ll see that 50% of your battery was drained by 5 hours of screen on time….. but if you look at the next biggest culprit it’ll say 25% of your battery was used by (for example) Android system. If you look at your android system battery usage details it;ll say “CPU total: 30 minutes.” That means it took your processor only 30 minutes to drain what it took your screen 2.5 hours to drain.

      That’s why you see the battery drains faster during “heavy usage” vs “moderate usage” regardless of the screen on time. You could probably watch 9 hours of movies straight on wifi, but if you gamed nonstop you’d only be able to pull in about 3 hours. Screen on time is just a nice peak into how long you may have been using your phone.

  4. I didn’t notice a huge improvement in battery usage while using L. But it is really hard to tell what could be affecting your battery usage when most of your apps really aren’t running properly and are not optimized to run with L. Under controlled conditions, sure, but in daily use, it becomes a bit hazy. I would to love to use L as my DD, but there are far too many issues as it stands tight now, looking forward to the final release.

    1. Actually the 36% came from a test conducted by arstechnica. They ran a script that opened a webpage every 15 seconds. On the same device running 4.4.4 and L. The difference in time was 36%, android 4.4.4 lasted 345 minutes and Android L lasted 471 minutes.

      Here’s the break down

  5. Think of what this will do for wearables. Glass and Android Wear devices will see drastically improved battery life too. For example, this should make the LG G Watch last 2 full days or more.

  6. I’m one of the lucky bastards that get horrible battery life on my Nexus 5 …
    I usually have to charge my phone 2-3 times per day now, as opposed to still having 10-20% left when going to bed.
    Except, for some reason, this weekend. Then it suddenly managed 36 hours and still had 30% left when I put it on the charger.
    If only I could find out why … :p

    1. Yeah that’s awful! I get really good battery on my N5 with Android L. usually have 30% left after about 13-14 hours with 2-2.5 hours of screen on time. My be a rogue app that’s causing your drain.

      1. Rouge app is absolutely a possibility, but battery stats tell me that most of the power is drained by “Miscellaneous”, so that’s helpful … :p
        Guess I’ll have to root at try a better battery stat app.
        I’m also testing if location services or Wi-Fi might be a reason, as those 36 hours happened at home, but the extreme drain seems like it is much worse at work.
        Hard to be sure though, as I haven’t done any controlled testing until now.

        1. I was getting 2-3 days on a charge with 4.4.2. With 4.4.3 and 4.4.4 that dropped to 1-2 days. I found WiFi was the culprit. I put back the radio from 4.4.2 (while keeping the 4.4.4 firmware) and battery life went back to 2-3 days. That was until the Play Services update last week… now Play Services is cutting a few hours off my battery life. I haven’t tried L and don’t intend to until it’s officially released.

          Edit: By the way, does the L preview include new radios, or are they the same as 4.4.4?

    2. Me too! Are you on L? I’m not – FULLY stock.
      I have no idea!

      1. Yes, I’m on L.
        That being said; I have noticed comparable tendencies when I ran stock also.
        Just nowhere near this extreme.
        I might be fooled by memory and the fact that I usually always have my phone on the charger at home, but it seems like it might be much worse at work than at home.
        Also: I used WakeLockDetector with root before I flashed L and found a couple of rouge apps that caused a big drain.

        1. I don’t have a nexus 5, but for my S4 I was getting a huge battery drain after an update. Battery pull for 30 seconds helped a lot.

          I don’t know if the nexus 5 has a removable battery but it’s worth a shot.

          1. It has, if I get my toolkit :p
            Doubt that it would help much in my case, but you did remind me that resetting the battery stats might be worth trying.

    3. I have had occasional problems with my N5, usually solved when I force close Maps (even when GPS is off).

  7. Android OS and Android System uses more battery life than my screen.. :/

    1. Something is wrong then. Screen has always been the biggest draw, easily doubling the next biggest.

    2. Does your device sync multiple accounts all day? Constant data synchronization usually causes the CPU to work extremely hard especially under poor coverage conditions.

    3. My note 3 was doing that when I had a micro SD card in it. A few people suggested it was due to improper formatting, but I just took it out since I didn’t really need it.

  8. That’s exactly why I like to use stock apps. The only issue is that they lack convenient features. Like, I’d love to use HTC Stock messenger, it just works and doesn’t crash, but it doesn’t have any type of Quick Reply. =.[

  9. What is with those hideous triangle, square and circle navigation icons? Hope it is customizable. I don’t like it. This is Android, not Playstation.

    1. From what I heard they are place holders for new ones.

    2. I thought that same exact thing, lol!

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