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Apps That Suck Your Battery Dry

30 May 2021 Developer News
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On this website, we try to spend most of our time talking about good apps. When we say "good apps," we mean apps that make your phone more fun to use, make your life easier to manage or generally contribute to the world being a better place in their own small way. We like to keep things positive. That being said, there are times when we have to draw attention to the other side of the coin. This is one of those times.

It's a little frustrating that we've entered the 2020s, and yet it's still difficult to go 24 hours without needing to charge your phone. That's down to the limitations of batteries. Phone handsets have improved significantly during the past decade, but batteries have failed to keep up with the pace of change. That being said, there are still things that we can do to prolong the life of a battery and go longer between charges. Most of those things involve limiting your use of certain apps.

App developers consider many things when they're building their apps, and impact on battery life isn't always as high up that list of things as it should be. Some of the most common apps in the world are battery killers, and in all honesty, demand far more out of a battery than they have any right to. It should be possible for these apps to go about their jobs without being quite such a drain on resources - so we're calling them out today in the hope that somebody is paying attention!

The big surprise you’ll notice as we run through these battery suckers is that gaming apps aren’t among them. That’s because gaming apps tend to be very efficient because they want you to play longer and spend more money. It’s something that game app developers have learned from online slots websites. There’s been a big migration from online slots websites to mobile slots during the past few years - a change that’s reflected in the design of newer online slots websites such as Rose Slots NZ - so the people who make slots have had to find ways to make their products fit on a phone without limiting playtime. The sheer amount of money that's made by these online slots sites has made other gaming app developers sit up and take notice of how they did it. Perhaps it's time some of the worst offenders did the same.


Nothing comes close to Fitbit in terms of rinsing your battery. Whenever you open Fitbit, you also open fourteen background functions that arguably don't need to be opened. Fitbit demands access to your microphone, your WiFi connection, your location, and your camera. Those are the top four most battery-draining functions on your phone, and Fitbit draws on all of them. When Fitbit is active, it uses up to 92% of your phone's available processing power. We're not disputing the fact that Fitbit performs a useful function, but one of the many reasons that people install Fitbit is that they want to trim down a little. Perhaps Fitbit ought to think about returning the favour by trimming down its bloated app.


Phone owners who live outside the United States of America don’t have to deal with the Verizon app, and they should be glad of it. Verizon is a network provider. There’s absolutely no reason why it should have a high-demand app. The primary reason most people use it is to pay their bill once a month. In return for providing that function, Verizon demands 92% of a phone’s processing power the whole time it’s open - the same eye-watering amount as Fitbit. The issue is so well-known that Verizon even publishes its own guidance on managing it. We can't help but feel that it would be easier to fix the problem and build a less demanding app.


Uber needs access to your location, so there's always going to be a battery issue with it. It also needs to use a lot of cellular data to track you and your driver on the map. Most of us probably understand that Uber is going to be a high-demand app, but does it really need to use 87% of a phone's available processing power to do it? Why does it want access to your camera and your microphone? There's no reason for it to need them, but it accesses them anyway, and so your battery takes a beating. If you're going on a long journey, your phone might be totally dead by the time you get to your destination. How are you supposed to give a five-star rating then?


We’re willing to give Skype a pass. If you think Skype isn’t going to demand a lot from your battery, you’re living in a dream world. Live video streaming and broadcasting is a high-intensity process, and having your camera and microphone on the whole time will have consequences. The surprise here isn’t that Skype is on the list - it’s that Skype and Uber use the exact same percentage of your phone’s available processing power.


Facebook will ask for around 82% of your phone’s activity when it’s opened. That’s why you burn through your battery so quickly when you spend hours of your day endlessly doom-scrolling through the world’s most popular social media app, and why it’s such a good idea to find more productive things to do with your time. Facebook famously wants access to just about everything your phone can offer it in terms of information. It would probably ask to store your fingerprint if it could. If anything, we’re surprised it’s only using 82% of our power.


We’re rounding off our list with another strange entry. Why in the world should Airbnb require the same amount of battery commitment from your phone as Facebook does? It’s a single-function app, and yet it’s as demanding as a social media app that tries to do everything. There are hundreds of accommodation booking apps in the world, and none of them even come close to Airbnb in terms of putting stress on a phone’s battery. What is it that the app does that demands so much charge? We have no idea, but we suspect the job could be done better.

If you're looking for Instagram, Tinder, or Twitter, they're all under the 80% mark. Even WhatsApp doesn't ask for more than 77%, and nor does Snapchat. That's a mark of how bloated and excessive these apps are. Now we've identified them, and we'd like to see something done about correcting the issue!

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