Tech savvy smartphone users already know that a 'free' app isn't really free; your personal information is pure gold to advertisers. There's also an energy penalty: the geolocation services that run to target ads can drain your battery much faster than the app itself.
A Microsoft Research study, reported on by BBC News today, audited how Android and Windows Phone apps use energy. The researchers found that In-app advertisements in free editions accounted for 65%-75% of the app's energy usage.
An active internet connection will always gobble up power, but buggy code was found to have been a major consideration. Microsoft's team tweaked some code to reduce energy consumption by 20%-65%, and believes that the problem can be solved by giving more prescriptive guidance to developers.
I'm wondering whether the same issues would occur on the iOS platform, because Apple can reject applications as the sole gatekeeper of its App Store. Does a developer have any incentive to improve an app's energy efficiency if the end user has accepted a device's poor battery life?
It may be time for device makers to clamp down on energy hogs, not only to improve the user experience, but in acknowledgement that residential energy use is increasing as households buy more gadgets.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com