The anti-virus company AVG Technologies has released its latest report on which Android applications are the most likely to chew through your phone’s data storage, battery life, and data plan. The combined data set is quite interesting, particularly since some of the worst offenders aren’t necessarily applications you’d think of.
AVG collected data on users in the United States, Australia, and the UK and found it was statistically significant enough to draw conclusions from. Data-plan traffic only included transfers over cellular networks, and the storage evaluation included data that the app downloaded after install — not just the listed size in the Google Play store.
First, the high-level overview:
This table doesn’t include games, which are broken out in their own separate category. The Candy Crush games are particular offenders, in terms of performance impact and battery drain. But there are some notable oddities — the New Words With Friends, for example, chew through far more data traffic than a game like Clash of Clans.
The fact that Solitaire shows up on this list might seem curious, but I think we can explain it. Several years ago, a group of researchers from Purdue University and Microsoft built a fine-grained energy profiling tool and used it to evaluate multiple free applications. What they found is that 65 to 75 percent of the energy expenditure of free apps was spent loading third-party advertising modules — mostly due to data transfers. Solitaire may not put much load on the battery, but its high data use suggests the application is continuously transferring advertising data.Categorical discussions
The AVG report also documents the top applications that impact performance, drain battery life, and consume device storage. The report then breaks these into two separate categories — applications that run on startup and those that the user runs manually. Ironically, some of the worst battery life offenders are OEM-created applications — Beaming Service for Samsung Mobile, Samsung’s Security Policy Updates (aka Samsung KNOX), and Samsung WatchON are all top offenders in the battery life department.
Samsung’s new Security Policy Update software comes in for particular criticism in the report — apparently some users have been reporting a 30 to 40 percent battery life hit, thanks to a security requirement that the company added with Android 4.4.2.
Meanwhile, applications like Netflix, which you’d expect to suck down enormous amounts of bandwidth, weigh in at #10 on the overall list, while the Daily Mail Online, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify take the top five spots. It’s not clear if AVG normalized its list to account for bandwidth consumption per hour, or if it strictly went with total bandwidth consumed. But it’s still noteworthy that a video streaming app slips in well behind Spotify’s radio service.
The last section of the report deals with optimizing your device’s bandwidth usage, storage consumption, and battery life. If you’re well-versed in managing these areas on a per-app basis, there’s not much new information, but it’s a convenient document to hand someone who needs some pointers.Optimizing software is key to extending battery life
If device manufacturers like Samsung want to continue winning new customers or encouraging old ones to upgrade, they’re going to have to start paying attention to every aspect of the device experience. With Moore’s law scaling nearly moribund, and lithium-ion chemistry improving at a snail’s pace, future gains will be eked out from software just as much as hardware.
No single company can monitor the entire Android or iOS ecosystems to ensure that every application follows best practices. But companies can at least make certain that their own applications are best-in-class when it comes to data use and battery conservation. Samsung happens to be the vendor caught out in this report, but the issue isn’t unique to it. Google has made improving battery life under Android a major focus of late, but many companies have had problems with applications or devices burning more power than they should, thanks to improperly implemented drivers or poor software.
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