If there is one thing that frustrates all Android owners, and all smartphone owners for that matter, it’s battery drain. It seems like we are always having to top off the charge on our mobiles or risk having them go dark during a busy work day. It’s such a common complaint, that the search for a longer-lasting smartphone battery has become something of a holy grail for the tech community, with developers around the world searching for ways to extend a mobile phone’s battery life. But while some manufacturers and tech developers are busy searching for an everlasting battery, others have concentrated on finding new ways to squeeze extra juice out of our existing smartphone power packs. US-based Purdue University claims to have done just that, developing a new software tool that reduces battery drain on Android smartphones by as much as 16%, simply by curbing the behavior of those popular but pesky apps.
HUSH is a free software tool developed by a team of researchers at Purdue University, who claim that it reduces smartphone battery drain caused by errant apps. After analyzing some 2000 Galaxy S3 and S4 smartphones, the team determined that Android apps account for as much as 45% of battery drain, 29% of which occurs when the mobile’s screen is off and the handset is supposedly in sleep mode. As professor and research team member Charlie Hu put it, “Apps wake the phone up periodically during screen-off to do useful things, but then afterward, they should let the phone go back to sleep. They are not letting the phone go back to sleep because of software bugs, and, specifically, due to the incorrect use of Android power control application programming interfaces called wakelocks.” So Hu and the team turned their attention to these so-called background apps, with an eye towards stopping them from sapping battery life when they are not in use.
How Does HUSH Work?
While Samsung and other manufacturers are busy trying to develop longer lasting batteries, Purdue’s research team took a different approach to the problem. They went directly to the heart of the matter, the power sapping apps themselves. Essentially, Purdue’s new software tool acts as an intuitive monitor for all of the apps installed on the user’s Android phone. When the device is in sleep mode, HUSH puts a stop to any unnecessary background apps and processes that may put too much of a drain on the handset’s battery. To accomplish this effectively, HUSH identifies and targets rarely used applications and programs. HUSH manages this by intelligently monitoring the user’s activities and ranking each app according to how frequently it is used. Programs that are rarely accessed are flagged by Purdue’s new software, and when the smartphone goes into sleep mode HUSH prevents them from running any background operations that may put too much of a drain on the device’s battery. The end result is a 15% to 16% extension of battery life on Android phones running the HUSH software tool. Admittedly, this is a far cry from the research team’s ultimate goal, which is to double the battery life of smartphones. Still, it is a step in the right direction. Currently, HUSH can only be implemented from with the Android framework itself, but the Purdue research team is working on a suitable app version which they intend to offer to the public for free.
Battery life remains one of the most common concerns for smartphone owners, and the search for a long lasting power supply continues in earnest. Many avenues are being explored, from completely redesigning existing lithium batteries to developing a unique hydrogen powered energy cell for Apple’s iPhone. But until a new and presumably inexhaustible power source does arrive on the scene, the answer to longer battery life for smartphones seems to lie in the programming itself; and with HUSH the team at Purdue seems to have put their collective finger on the nub of the problem. After all, it’s the apps that we all love so much that are the real culprits when it comes to draining our device’s batteries. If we can exert better control over them, we can enjoy longer battery life, at least until that holy grail is finally discovered.