In-App Ads Drain Up To 75% Of Your Phone’s Battery

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iPhone
Free apps aren't so free after all
Photo: Apple

Free apps that display in-app advertising are sucking the life out of your cellphone’s battery. A team led by Abhinav Pathak, a computer boffin at Purdue University, Indiana, found that around “65%-75% of energy in free apps is spent in third-party advertising modules.”

Translation: Free apps like Angry Birds and Facebook may actually cost you more than paid apps in the end.

The researchers studied (PDF) Android and “Windows Mobile,” although the same problems would apply in some degree to iOS. The problems come when the apps switch on power-draining devices like GPS, the camera or SD card readers. Pathak and his team found that Angry Birds, for example, spends just 20 of the energy it uses on the game itself. The rest goes on tracking the user’s location and serving location-targeted ads.

Now, the iPhone gets pretty great battery life for a smartphone, but even so, location services and ad-streaming will have some impact on battery life. So here’s a suggestion: Instead of cheaping out and whining that a $2 app is “expensive,” why not just pay for it? Because the alternative seems to be that you’ll be paying for it anyway, in terms of wasted electricity and annoyingly short battery life: Some of these apps can drain your battery in just 90 minutes.

[Via New Scientist]