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Free Android apps chew through battery

11 April 2012 1,454 views No Comment

The majority of people playing Angry Birds on Android downloaded the “free” version rather than paying $0.99 for the sans advertising experience. Is that a good deal? According to researchers at Purdue University, not so much. Using a tool they created called Energy Profiler, researchers found that free apps like Angry Birds and Free Chat eat up a lot of battery tracking users and serving up advertising.

“It turns out that both apps only used a quarter of their total consumed energy on gameplay,” says Scientific American, quoting the Purdue study. “The other three quarters went to advertising. Things like user tracking, uploading user info and downloading ads.”

In a similar vein, the researchers also found that performing a Google search in Android’s default browser resulted in the device’s 3G high power mode being activated for up to 7 seconds — the search itself happened almost instantaneously, but the phone remained activate for a good bit longer.

Interestingly, Purdue’s Energy Profiler only runs on Android and Windows Mobile 6.5 (?!?), so they didn’t test Apple’s ever-popular iPhone.

Which raises the question, “Are free iPhone apps battery hogs, too?” I suspect, but don’t know, the answer is a qualified, “yes.” That is, a much larger percentage of iOS device users pay for apps rather download the “free,” ad addled versions.

Further, if I were a researcher, designing a tool for the largest possible audience with the most need is probably where I’d put my effort…

What’s your take?

via Scientific American, image @ Joystiq

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