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Ads in Free Apps Found to Swallow Up to 75% of Your Power

By - Source: Purdue University | B 30 comments

Few things in life are free and even if something appears to be free, it is merely a matter of perception.

On the Internet, you may pay for the consumption of content by viewing ads. Free smartphone apps also include ad viewing most of the time. However, apps also require you to pay with battery power as researchers from Purdue University have found that ads are responsible for the lion's share of an app's thirst for power.

When evaluating the power usage of ads in six popular apps including Angry Birds, Facebook and Android Browser, they found substantial power usage of the ads. For example, the ad module in Angry Birds consumes about 75 percent of the entire power, meaning the actual game consumed only 25 percent. The high power consumption is caused by ad modules that track the user's geographical location, send information about the user to advertisers and download ads. The researchers will be providing details about their findings in a paper that is scheduled to be published during the EuroSys 2012 conference, which takes place from April 10 to 13 in Bern, Switzerland.

Other factors that cause energy drain include inefficient programs and software glitches called "energy bugs," said Charlie Hu, a Purdue University professor of electrical and computer engineering. "The past assumption has been that, whenever you see usage you have power consumption, and when there is no usage there is no power consumption," Hu said. "This does not hold true for smartphones."

The scientist said that that simple data network usage results in an additional "tail" after the usage. "The ad module in Angry Birds obviously uses 3G for network uploading and downloading, while the game itself did not, which is why we blame the ad module for the tail," he explained.

In their paper the researchers also provide a method to "improve energy efficiency with a technique that has been shown to reduce the energy consumption of four apps by 20 percent to 65 percent." while they did not provide details yet, the researchers said that they aim to develop an "energy debugger that automatically pinpoints flaws in software and fixes them without the intervention of a human software developer."

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Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    math1337 , April 7, 2012 12:57 PM
    So... put your phone in airplane mode before using apps with ads.
  • 19 Hide
    house70 , April 7, 2012 2:25 PM
    zybchAnd this is why android still sucks so much. Its just such an unfinished platform its amazing it can run for more than 1/2 an hour at a time without crashing.

    Trollalalalalala......
Other Comments
  • 6 Hide
    victorintelr , April 7, 2012 12:33 PM
    So, showing ads consume more power than all the physic calculations and drawing the hardware has to do....... so angry birds without the ads is actually power efficient. We will see shortly in Google Play apps that say: want the app without ads and actually save battery? pay for it!
  • Display all 30 comments.
  • 23 Hide
    math1337 , April 7, 2012 12:57 PM
    So... put your phone in airplane mode before using apps with ads.
  • 6 Hide
    TunaSoda , April 7, 2012 1:15 PM
    What ads? ;) 
  • 19 Hide
    house70 , April 7, 2012 2:25 PM
    zybchAnd this is why android still sucks so much. Its just such an unfinished platform its amazing it can run for more than 1/2 an hour at a time without crashing.

    Trollalalalalala......
  • 1 Hide
    house70 , April 7, 2012 2:27 PM
    victorintelrSo, showing ads consume more power than all the physic calculations and drawing the hardware has to do....... so angry birds without the ads is actually power efficient. We will see shortly in Google Play apps that say: want the app without ads and actually save battery? pay for it!

    It is not showing them that drains power, is the network activity that does it; activating the radios (3G, Wi-Fi) to pull the ads is the culprit.
  • 3 Hide
    TunaSoda , April 7, 2012 2:53 PM
    house70It is not showing them that drains power, is the network activity that does it; activating the radios (3G, Wi-Fi) to pull the ads is the culprit.

    AKA: Showing you the ads...
  • 3 Hide
    Silly Boots , April 7, 2012 3:18 PM
    So ads make up 75% of an application's power usage. In the end that is honestly probably about 2-5% of my total battery drain, as my screen, and cell standby take up about 90% of the battery usage. And then of course the OS uses a little...
  • -3 Hide
    redeye , April 7, 2012 3:34 PM
    just buy the game... (i only use the pay-for version... which means, i guess, i don't buy alot of apps. I knew there was a reason that I only buy/ use the paid apps... (originally it was cause i did not want to see ads...)
  • -1 Hide
    captaincharisma , April 7, 2012 3:40 PM
    or just don't waste money on the game and turn the data off when playing a game. simple as that
  • 8 Hide
    Pailin , April 7, 2012 3:49 PM
    I can believe it...

    when I have a bunch of tabs open I sometimes find some of the adds using up to 75% CPU power on my Q6600 @ 3.3GHz


    thats just plain stupid and too hard to find Which add / pages are sucking the power -.-

    also wish browsers would give a feature to show which pages are producing sound !!!!
  • 1 Hide
    e-z , April 7, 2012 4:06 PM
    Those that are saying to just turn data off/go offline. It doesn't work. If the game can't connect to download the ads, it won't let you play.
  • 2 Hide
    jaquith , April 7, 2012 4:07 PM
    I can believe it whenever I use a GPS App e.g. GPS Drive it sucks the bttery dry in no time flat, but just turn-off Location Services (iPhone) or Use GPS Satellite (Android).

    If you really want to kill your fiends phones keep locating them constantly while yours is plugged-in.
  • 0 Hide
    madooo12 , April 7, 2012 5:32 PM
    hamptonernestMy co-worker's mom makes $74 hourly on the internet. She has been fired from work for 8 months but last month her pay was $17538 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on >>>>>>>LazyCash14.com

    and you get hundreds on trolling here

    is you're co worker a troll too?
  • 1 Hide
    madooo12 , April 7, 2012 5:32 PM
    pearsondaphnemy classmate's ex-wife brought home $12259 the previous week. she been making cash on the computer and bought a $368600 home. All she did was get lucky and put into work the information given on this site >>> http://smrls.tk/6a

    so you still know you're classmate's ex-wife
  • 3 Hide
    nukemaster , April 7, 2012 5:44 PM
    madooo12so you still know you're classmate's ex-wife

    He is the reason they are an EX :) 
  • 0 Hide
    mcd023 , April 7, 2012 7:00 PM
    I was listening to a guy talking about how and why he chose different ad services and he said that google ads would actually send usage each time an ad showed up, rather than on start up or once a week (his preference). I wonder about Microsofts ads.

    Also, all of the tests were done on android I beleive.
  • 1 Hide
    jonathanrhunter , April 7, 2012 7:12 PM
    The same people crying about poor battery life probably have their phone on WiFi, 3G, and BT all day long. What's a little more drain for ads. = )
  • 2 Hide
    thorkle , April 7, 2012 8:06 PM
    AdFree for android anyone? and AdBlock for windows? how do more people not use these...?
  • 0 Hide
    house70 , April 7, 2012 11:15 PM
    TunaSodaAKA: Showing you the ads...

    by showing the ads I meant actually displaying them on the screen for you to see; the major power hog is what happens behind the scenes.
    And no, I am not defending the process, I think having an ad-supported app should come with a detailed description of this kind of things, so the user can decide whether to pay a one time price for an ad-free version or get the so-called free version. I usually go for the former...
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