Tackle Battery Drain due to Ad-serving within Apps – A Developer’s Perspective


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One of the fringe effects of advancements in processing power and efficient mobile technology is the adverse it has on battery charge. While high resource eating games, apps, cameras and live streaming were thought of a probable cause, an interesting new insight has now emerged that places the blame on the way apps are designed that may be the biggest culprit of draining battery juice.

A joint study undertaken by Purdue University and Microsoft in March 2013 has shed astonishing light on a new source of battery drainage – app ad-serving. This approach potentially has the capability to wipe out two thirds of the battery juice at time of app usage. Ad-serving is the process of allowing ad networks to connect with the apps and gather valuable in-app usage information.

The problem

The study pointed out that 75% of the power consumed by apps happened during the in-app ad-serving process. Right from popular games such as Fruit Ninja to business apps such as New York Times have this process embedded into the programming.  While this helps companies to gather in-app usage data and capture user preference to provide better business decision making, actual smartphone users are bearing the brunt of rapid battery discharges that necessitates them to reach for the charger after a very short duration of time.

According to Mr. Abhinav Pathak, the Purdue computer scientist who led the survey, the study’s basic premise was not to prove the effect of ad-serving on apps. This point nevertheless has opened a new avenue for developers to look into when they undertake app development projects in the future.

At the heart of the problem is the incorrect implementation of the iAd (in iOS operating systems) and AdMob (on Android OS). In the current scenario, these SDKs help pick up demographic profile of the app user – gender, age, user location – and send them to the servers, which in turn return back relevant ads for the particular profile segment. This to and fro consumes most of the power of the device.

The developer’s solution

Such disorganized data collection in the background by these SDKs put a strain on power resources of the firmware. Unfortunately it will be quite some time before these SDKs fix the inherent problem. Till then the onus will be on developers to enhance the app usage experience by reducing battery drain. Some of the suggested measures are as below –

  1. Opt for static advertising measures instead of incorporating ad-serving SDKs within the development process
  2. Users need to be alerted in case the app is left idle for a prolonged duration. This way, users can kill the apps running the background and close the ad-serving process
  3. Another tweak would be to design apps in such a way that they are well usable even in dim lighting conditions. This is a good way for users to reduce brightness and conserve precious battery juice
  4. Opt for an SDK that can selectively disable or opt out of services such as GPS Tracker.


Satinder Panesar
Entrepreneur & founder of GWT systems pvt ltd. Satinder's pragmatic approach helped the company not only to survive the worst IT crises but also managed to increase the clientÈle. Satinder is currently working with green companies, around the world, and is promoting Green computing.


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