Why Your Android Phone Eats Up Power Faster Than You Can Say “Android”

June 6, 2011
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Okay, I admit, I may have exaggerated the headline a bit, but the question is a perfectly valid one: What sucks the most power out of your Android phone? In a recent technology conference, Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha provided a contentious answer: It’s the apps that you run on your phone.

Speaking in a webcast for the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2011 Technology Conference (skip to the 4th and 25th minute marks), Jha claims that many poorly written apps on the Android Market eat away between 30 and 40 percent of your phone’s battery.

In fact, according to Jha, 70 percent of the time, Motorola handsets are returned not because of hardware issues but because of performance issues, which Jha believes to be caused by applications.

Motorola’s chief said that Android’s being open is both good and problematic. Although not mentioning statistics or specific applications, Jha was referring to so many untested, power-eating applications on the Android Market.

Almost anyone can publish apps on the Android Market. As an open service, the Android Market leaves it to the developers to test the apps that they publish and distribute through the Android Market. There are developer tools and documents to help programmers make sure that the apps are the best that they can be.

Apparently, not many app developers take power efficiency seriously. Several tech critics have complained that a lot of Android apps are developed primarily on the basis of the “Wow” factor, but with little regard for whether the apps suck out the juice out of one’s Android phone. Thousands of “wowed” customers install such apps, and then gripe that their phones lose power faster than ever.

Jha said that a messiah is on the way: MOTOBLUR. Currently, MOTOBLUR is present on about 10 million Motorola handsets as a hub for social networking, but Jha has bigger plans for the application. For example, one of Jha’s visions is to let MOTOBLUR gather statistics about application use and how the numbers affect such things as power consumption. The data can be useful in pinpointing the memory-, bandwidth-, and power-hogging apps.

With such info, MOTOBLUR can forewarn the phone user about how much power an app will consume so that the user can decide appropriately. MOTOBLUR’s additional capabilities are expected to further differentiate Motorola from the already suffused crowd in the Android space.

My humble and naive suggestion to Motorola at this point is this: yes, develop a power-hog identification application, BUT contribute it to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Whether or not such a move will make Motorola stand out further–or blur it further (pun intended)–is up to the Android community. It’s the self-regulating Android community that holds power, really, and is the final judge.

What say you, dear judges, about Motorola’s strategic move to leverage MOTOBLUR in the way Jha envisioned?

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