New study indicates that ads in apps cause 70% of battery drain

dgstorm

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Some researchers from Purdue University, working with Microsoft, took some time to perform a pretty ingenious study. They developed an energy profiling tool called EProf that not only allows them to determine the battery drain of a particular app, but also every thread the app spawns. After testing five Android apps, including Angry Birds, FreeChess, and the New York Times, they reached the conclusion that over 70% of an app's battery drain is caused by ads and not the app itself. They performed their testing on a Nexus One running Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Here's a quote from the TalkAndroid article with an example,

Lead researcher Abhinav Pathak measured energy usage for one level of Angry Birds and found that the game itself only accounted for about 30% of the total battery drain. The remaining 70% was divided between serving up advertising and uploading user data. The user data is only uploaded once, however the ads are displayed throughout the game, draining the battery continually.

According to their tests, the New York Times only spends about 15% of its battery usage for the app itself, and the rest was from ads. It's important to note, that the researchers were not trying to single out any particular app. They are simply trying to help identify the problems more effectively to add relevant data so that all companies can find more efficient ways to use battery power. In fact, they made their EProf tool an open source, so that developers and advertising companies can develop better ways to minimize battery drain.

It will be interesting to see how this data might be used to improve things in the future.

Source: TalkAndroid
 

Caren4u2

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Anyone know if there is an adblocker for nonrooted phones?

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Chizzele

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I'm not sure that blocking the ads would mean that the app your are using would stop trying to display them.. meaning it may not improve battery consumption.. i hope i'm wrong.. i barely use any apps that have ads anyway but its still ridicules that ads use more battery vs the app itself..
 

geoff5093

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Going through my phone and removing 30+ apps I rarely/never use has improved my battery life significantly
 

WildcatRudy

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What's interesting is that I have the HTC Thunderbolt, which had notoriously bad battery life. I did get an upgraded battery that fits inside the stock case (a few hundred maH higher than stock), but I also rooted and run an AOSP ROM that got rid of all of the HTC and Verizon bloatware. There have been days I've left my GPS and Bluetooth enabled, and haven't used the phone an abnormal amount, and my battery drain actually was not affected all that much, if at all. I would have thought running these two radios inside the HTC would have had a really bad adverse effect (especially on this phone), but I found the opposite to be true. My phone may have been a little more run down by the end of the night, but not by any large amount. Overclocking? You bet--it does drain a battery faster. But in day to day use, I occasionally underclock slightly to eek out a little more battery life, and the phone still works fine. (Still fun to crank it up, though. :D )

But I do notice that when I play one of the few games I have installed on my phone or run a handful of apps with ads, they do suck down the battery more quickly than they should. Some apps, too, are not affected by the ad blockers--I have a handful that still display ads despite having had a couple of different ad blockers in place. And it makes me wonder (as another member mentioned earlier in this thread) if the ad code in the apps trying to load to the ads is still a drain on the battery, as I'm sure it must retry at least once if it can't reach an ad server.
 

WildcatRudy

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BTW, keep in mind this study was conducted partly with Microsoft's help. Bias? Naaaaaaaaah... ;) Although, one source I read mentioned that they were hoping to release a tool for Windows Phone to track the same type of activity.

This is the actual study referred to: http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/people/mzh/eurosys-2012.pdf My eyes glazed over after the first few sentences, but it's all there in black and white and colorful little charts.
 

Caren4u2

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OK....so now I am cleaning house!

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JoeeDB

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Yes, ads will KILL your battery. I downloaded a certain app (forget which one) and a few days after I noticed my battery draining up to 50% (literally) while I was sleeping! I deleted a few apps and my battery life has gotten better. Not back to where it used to be, but still better than dying in literally 3-4 hours with minimal use.
 

tjk629

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I'm not surprised.
 

bazar6

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I think it'd definitely be interesting to try this app with a rooted & ad-blocked phone, or even one that just had the data turned off, because the app is still trying to reach out to an ad server whether data is off or ad-blockers are in place. That'll help you narrow down the problem even more.

This same study could be used to tell you how much data an app can use to display an ad. WeatherBug (even tho not a great app to show the data consumption against because I'm sure the app itself uses quite a bit) continues to rotate the ads at the bottom of the app every 30 seconds +/-. I know it's not the same topic, but those with limited plans gotta think of everything (I'm unlimited, but my gf isn't)
 

NoBloatware

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I'm not surprised.

Smartphone software's key functions are often:
1) display ads
2) spy on the user for "data mining"

What the app actually does is secondary for many devs. This is why I try to find apps that act responsibly. If it runs on boot for no good reason, doesn't stop running eventually after I'm done using it, or any other nonsense or battery waste then UNINSTALL.

As for adblockers, they stifle innovation. Great for the end user except cool apps and web sites that rely on ads get punished. Trust me, stuff is dying off because of adblock. Allow nonintrusive ads if you care to do a good thing.
 

NoBloatware

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WeatherBug...continues to rotate the ads at the bottom of the app every 30 seconds +/-. I know it's not the same topic, but those with limited plans gotta think of everything (I'm unlimited, but my gf isn't)

How much bull are you willing to consume? Luckily, there seem to be enough decent developers out there that you can still do a whole lot very efficiently on a smartphone without having to pay one cent for software. The problem is finding the devs and the apps that are decent. I'm not sure how good of a nanny Apple is on this front, but Google is cheap daycare (to use the metaphor).

Once again, let me say: blocking non-intrusive ads strangles benevolent software developers.
 

52brandon

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I'm not sure that blocking the ads would mean that the app your are using would stop trying to display them.. meaning it may not improve battery consumption.. i hope i'm wrong.. i barely use any apps that have ads anyway but its still ridicules that ads use more battery vs the app itself..
exactly my thoughts. Every adblocker I've used blocks the url from displaying, but the app still tries to do it...
 
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