There’s no such thing as a free lunch, as the saying goes, and it seems there’s technically no such thing as a free app either. According to research carried out by Computer Science boffin Abhinav Pathak at Purdue University in Indiana, USA, the hidden cost of so-called freebie apps is a massive drain on your battery life.
The report published in New Scientist magazine states that whilst 10-30% of the power used by standard apps goes to drive functionality, the rest is used on running the advertising which, of course, plays a big part of all ‘free’ apps.
POWER OF ADVERTISING
Taking Angry Birds as his case example, while you may think your favourite mobile game is pretty flawless and the ads merely a tedious distraction, according to Pathak only 20% of power is used in playing the game whilst a whopping 45% is burnt up pinpointing your location and targeting you with location-tailored ads, plus a further 28% of power (something called ‘tail energy’) used up keeping the 3G connection open for 10 seconds after the ads have been downloaded.
Pathak explains that the reason for this excessive power drain comes from developers simply dropping in third-party coding written by advertising companies to help them generate their loot – generic coding used across countless apps which sucks the life out of your battery in the same manner the ad companies would suck the cash from your bank account.
So, the bottom line is: if you do find your constant companion in communication is consistently low on juice, you can either wait for advertisers to write better code or you need to ditch the advertising drain completely and upgrade your apps to the paid-for equivalent, because there really is no such thing as a free app.