posted by Thom Holwerda on Tue 20th Mar 2012 21:01 UTC
IconBecause I've been spending days browsing through XDA, reading CM changelogs, and flashing nightly builds, I'm still in an Android state of mind, so excuse me for more talk on the subject. An interesting study has been performed which found that advertisements in Android applications are a huge battery drain - they account for up to 75% of an application's battery usage.

I'm the kind of person who buys his applications. I hate in-application advertising, and I would rather pay a few euros to get them off my screen. It leads to a cleaner application, it supports the developers, and since I only keep the bare essential applications on my phone, this doesn't have to be an expensive endeavour.

With this study in hand, though, there might be yet another reason to consider spending those few euros on applications: advertisements are a huge battery drain. Due to the fact they require a network connection (up to 10 seconds) and some additional i/o, up to 65-75% of applications' energy use can come from mobile advertisements.

The quite detailed and technical article goes on to propose a solution to this problem which, as they found, could cut energy use by 20-65%. The article covers both Windows Mobile (the old one) and Android, and was conducted by Abhinav Pathak and Y. Charlie Hu, of the Purdue University, Indiana, and by Ming Zhang of Microsoft Research.

This neatly coincides with an unintended side-effect I discovered of an Android ad blocker I installed to remove ads from web pages. For some reason, I've never been able to get a 3G connection in my own hometown - which is weird, because like the rest of the country, it's properly covered. It's not the hardware - my sister-in-law had the same 3GS, bought in the same month, no less, as I did, also T-Mobile, and she did have a consistent 3G connection. The moment I leave town, all is well. As such, with just a bare 1G connection, I'm well within my right to remove ads from web pages to speed up page loading.

However, as it turns out, this ad blocker also blocks ads inside applications, and the one application I haven't upgraded to the pay version - ROM Manager - was suddenly free of ads, even though I hadn't paid for it. Of course, the extended functionality of the application didn't magically become available, but still.

This led me to an interesting moral dilemma. Is it okay to block ads in mobile applications (which have no functional restrictions compared to the for-pay versions), knowing how much battery they consume? Is it akin to piracy? Or is the fact that they're a massive battery drain a legitimate reason to block them?

It's an interesting dilemma for sure. I personally believe that if it affects battery life as heavily as it does according to the study, then yes, I'm allowed to block them from doing so. It is, after all, my device, my juice, my electricity. On the other hand, you know what you're downloading (i.e., application with ads), so it's kind of like ordering a pizza with ansjovis, only to complain it has ansjovis on it.

What are your thoughts?

e p (1)    55 Comment(s)

Technology White Papers

See More