A team of scientists from Purdue University and Microsoft will be revealing some vital information about some of the many popular apps around today and how they are affecting us in terms of energy. Almost 75% of the total energy which is used by apps such as Fchess and Angry Birds is in fact directed and used for advertising and marketing which is aimed at the app user. That is some of the information still to come forth by the joint team of scientists in their paper which is to be launched in Bern, Switzerland at the EuroSys 2012. So all in all, apps that claim to be free are actually charging you in terms of the extra battery life that they consume.
In the paper put out by Y. Charlie Hu, Abhinav Phatak and Ming Zhang from Microsoft, they note that free apps such as Angry Birds are in fact spending more energy on activities such as uploading user information, user tracking and downloading more ads. In fact the apps spend approximately 25% to 35% on actual game play and 65% to 75% on peripheral activities.
The researchers have developed a tool by the name of Eprof, whose function is calculating the energy being used in an app and finding out for what purpose it is being used. The tool currently works for both Android and Windows Mobile phone apps. As each app consists of many thousands of lines of code which then further differentiate into sub routines and threads, the Eprof tool will be used to calculate how much energy is going where, and in doing so, can help developers reduce their apps’ energy consumption by as much as 65%; rather than having to employ expensive hardware such as a power meter.
This is clearly great news for developers working in the app market who can now tweak their apps more efficiently and hopefully it will bring a new variety of more power efficient apps.
There have been as many as one million apps written to date since smartphones were introduced, with a large percentage of them written without any regard to energy use. After all, an app’s utility is always limited by the device’s battery life.
There are several ways that apps waste energy; for instance, through processes such as tailing and programming bugs. Let’s suppose the research team came across some advertising software which fails to disconnect its connection to the internet after its application had been closed. This means that another app would have to cut the internet connection; and due to the first app’s inefficiency this results in more energy wastage. Tailing is a similar phenomenon which occurs when the direct connection to a cellular network isn’t instantly cut off by an app. Nearly seven seconds of power can go to waste in every transaction. So when using apps such as interactive games over a 3G connection, the user can see major battery depletion.
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