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Android apps’ covert communications may be killing your phone’s battery

Android Apps Battery Drain Causes

You recently decided to buy a phone with a bigger battery — so why does it still seem to drain more quickly than you expected? One answer might be that the apps you’ve installed are covertly communicating with their own back-end and other third-party servers on a constant basis even though such communications aren’t helping deliver a better user experience.

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Via ZDNet, a new paper paper published by MIT (PDF) has found that “63 percent of the external communication made by top popular free Android applications from Google Play has no effect on the user-observable application functionality.” This constant background chatter with servers also has negative implications for user privacy, not to mention that it sucks up both your phone’s battery life and your monthly data allotments.

Here’s the real kicker: The researchers found that when they disabled many of the channels that these apps used to communicate with remote servers, it had no effect on their usability. In fact, shutting off chatter between some apps and servers left their functionalities completely intact.

Given how Google has been working to give Android users the option to grant more granular permissions with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, it would make sense if it also looked into options for helping users limit the amount of background chatter that goes on, both for the sake of privacy and device performance.

Check out MIT’s full analysis of background chatter on Android apps here.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.