Is your smartphone suffering from a case of battery fatigue? Do you find yourself hunting for electrical outlets in unfamiliar places?
The problem may not be with the phone, but with the apps you’re using, according to a new study from Alcatel-Lucent that evaluates the efficiency of mobile applications.
Facebook Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, BlackBerry Messenger, Viber and Nimbuzz rank among the worst offenders when it comes to battery drain. These apps, by their nature, are constantly rousing the phone to send or receive a message.
In an attempt to provide users with instant gratification, some apps constantly contact the mobile networks, instructing it to alert the phone whenever an incoming message arrives. This repeatedly wakes the device from its dormant state — serving as a silent battery-killer. To counteract this problem, some apps hold a radio channel open to the device so it can continue sending and receiving messages over a period of time. This also drains the battery.
“It’s the sort of thing people do not necessarily know,” said Josee Loudiadis, Alcatel-Lucent’s director of network intelligence.
Alcatel-Lucent used its mobile network analytics technology to measure app usage by more than 15 million subscribers on mobile networks in North America, Asia and the Middle East. A study to be released April 30 seeks to identify which of the leading mobile applications most tax network resources, consume the most data and deplete battery life fastest.
The applications that put the most demand on mobile networks are, not surprisingly, the most popular: Google Search, Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and YouTube. These account for the greatest data volume and require the most signal capacity (that is, the need to open a radio channel for each device to attach to a network to send or receive information).
Network operators know their data consumption is about to skyrocket whenever consumers download iTunes, launch video streaming service Netflix or post photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram. These are all well-known bandwidth hogs. But other, less obvious apps, such as Internet radio service Pandora and photo pinning site Pinterest, also devour resources.
Among data-intensive video apps, YouTube depleted battery life fastest, as users jump from one video to the next, watching multiple videos in sequence.
Another factor Alcatel-Lucent weighted in determining an app’s efficiency is “chattiness” — a measure of how often it connects to the mobile network to send or receive data. The chattier the app, the more it drains the battery.
Among social media apps, BlackBerry Messenger is the chattiest, sending out a radio signal 343 times for every megabyte of data — compared with Windows Live Messenger, which makes five times fewer connections to the network. Google is almost twice as chatty as Yahoo during searches and Internet browsing, the study found.
The most efficient applications are among the first to appear on mobile devices: Mail apps including Gmail, Yahoo Mail and AOL mail. Developers have refined these apps in a way that reduces the demand on networks (and devices), downloading mail when a user opens the app instead of sending continuous notifications when each new message arrives.