Google updated its Google Search app earlier this week to introduce Google Now to iOS. The feature brings Android’s awesome digital assistant to your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, allowing you to get information like the weather, sports scores, and travel assistance all in one place.
But many users have found that it also has a significantly negative affect on battery life. Because many of Google Now’s “cards” rely on location data, the service constantly gets updates on its whereabouts from nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots, and this means it’s eating away at your battery all the time.
You may have noticed that after activating Google Now, the little location icon remains in the status bar on your iOS device. That’s not just there to look pretty — it means that your device is continually searching for its location, as Google notes in the app’s release information:
To provide up-to-the-minute information, Google Now turns on Location Services. Even though the icon stays on, the app has minimal battery impact:
• The app doesn’t turn on the GPS. Instead, it receives passive updates from nearby cell towers and WIFI hot spots.
• If your battery is running low, the app pauses location updates.
• The app stays asleep unless your device moves a long distance.
Although Google may have designed Google Now to have “minimal battery impact,” that’s not the case for a lot of users. The app’s App Store reviews are littered with complaints from those who have found Google Now to be killing their battery, and the same is being echoed on Twitter.
It’s thought that the issue may be due to a bug. Google’s Field Trip app reportedly has the same problem, even after a recent bug fix, leading some to believe that Google may have a problem properly managing the location features on iOS.
The company states in its release notes for Google Now that users who see an impact on battery life should report it by taking advantage of the feedback feature within the app’s settings, so we encourage you to do that if you’re experiencing this issue.
Hopefully the excessive battery drain be fixed sooner rather than later, then, but you don’t need to stop using Google Now completely until that time comes.
Instead, you can turn off location reporting from within the Privacy section of the app’s settings — just hit the little cog in the top right corner. This will disable the features that rely on location information, such as live traffic reporting, but it won’t kill Google Now completely.
Having used Google Now extensively on Android, I’m already familiar with how much it can impact battery life, so I expected the same on iOS. On my Nexus 4, I often turn Google Now off from time to time to conserve battery life.