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Google: Running background apps in Android drains battery, also sky is blue



Donning the tights of Captain Obvious, Google co-founder Larry Page at Google Zeitgeist in the UK answered a question about poor battery life on Android devices by noting if you aren’t getting through the day “there is something wrong.” Yes, because people ask questions like that when nothing is wrong.

In fairness, he does go a little more in-depth that that. From TechRadar UK:

“I have noticed there are a few people who have phones where there is software running in the background that just sort of exhausts the battery quickly. If you are not getting a day, there is something wrong.”

See? It’s not the operating system. It’s those pesky apps you run in the background that drains the battery. The problem with that statement, however, is that running apps in the background is one of the selling points of Android. It’s one of the things that “Droid Does.” Why would anyone involved with Android, let alone one of the top dogs at Google, publicly blame the problem on apps running in the background? That’s like Steve Jobs blaming the iPhone’s poor battery life on the multi-touch interface.

Eric Schmidt doesn’t exactly help matters by narrowing the problem to apps that “are not particularly smart” about transmitting and receiving data. Okay, fine, some developers need to do a better job with this. How are they going to address that? That question remains open. Not exactly a stunning rebuke of the iPhone OS 4.0 and Windows Phone 7 approaches to multi-tasking.

Via Mobiputing and Android Community



  1. Strodtbeck

    05/19/2010 at 9:12 am

    I have the solutions. . . really :D

    Don’t allow any apps! Problem solved!

  2. JoeBear

    05/19/2010 at 9:59 am

    So, multitasking is bad if you want to, like, actually use it as a mobile phone. Check. Oh, and some apps aren’t written very well. But we won’t disapprove them because we’d really rather let *you* do the checking for us. Like with the rest of our software. Check. And if Flash runs your battery down and makes your phone crash once it (ever) shows up on our phones, it’s not our fault either.

    Now please excuse me, I have one of our numerous usability tests to get to. /sarcasm.

    • Jengs99

      03/31/2012 at 10:58 am

      you are a dumbass /sarcasm

  3. acerbic

    05/19/2010 at 2:09 pm

    I have an Android phone and use a few well behaved background apps that don’t drain the battery too fast. I have tried a few that did drain the battery, so I uninstalled them. I also saw in the reviews of some apps and widgets that they drain the battery and never even installed them. All that was really such a traumatic experience that I desperately need St. Steve to protect me, so please ban Android completely. Think of the children!

  4. Charles Jannace III

    05/20/2010 at 4:29 am

    Problem solved with Advanced Task Killer available in the Market.

  5. Roberto

    05/20/2010 at 4:16 pm

    I’m not sure what the point of this is. If you use apps the battery runs down? Gee really? If I leave an app running in the background this is Google’s fault? Ah okay. I thought it was just me.

    • Souljacker

      06/23/2011 at 2:44 pm

       Not too bright, huh? The problem is the applications that launch themselves in the background without any interaction from the user. Amazon Mp3, news, Mapes, Slacker, Skype Mobile – all these are running in the background on my device as we speak and I have never used any one of these applications on my phone. Why are they running?

      This OS doesn’t give you more choice or control. It’s no different than the others.

  6. Steven

    05/31/2010 at 10:25 am

    Android isn’t the problem, its people not willing to use the on-phone tools to figure out if a developer made a bad process. Most apps that “run” in the background are simple services that generally just take up a little memory and rarely use the CPU. Memory doesn’t do a thing to the battery, CPU will, but like I said, the good apps use basic services. There is no need to run the entire app in the background, and Android does limit that to an extent. Still, the problem is a very minimal number of apps. Task killers aren’t good for the system, so don’t use them. Instead, use the battery usage and running services shortcuts found under Shortcuts>Settings>(battery usage)||(running services). Really it isn’t that hard. If you feel like your battery is running low to quickly, check the battery usage and see what it reports. Its surprisingly accurate and thorough. The actual biggest problems are network use and other radios being on excessively. Then there are a few ill-behaved apps, but they should show, and then you should be smart enough to uninstall them. Running services lets you see the services that are running. If one seems to be behaving badly, you can stop it (which is different than killing it). Just make sure you don’t stop a service that is working for a stock application or system process. That could really screw up your phone. These things aren’t hard, just take a little willingness to learn new things. That’s what makes Android lightyears better than iPhone OS. You can actually learn something, it isn’t dumbed down for you.

  7. Ramy_salama

    01/24/2011 at 1:54 am

    Well written article that manages to communicate a frustrated attitude but has no subject.
    Because android is open to developers of apps, they too should be held accountable for designing apps smartly and efficiently. It’s obvious but it needed to be said.

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