Google blames developers for lousy Android battery life
It's your fault for using it
Creating a multitasking mobile isn't so easy after all, Google's top execs are discovering. Co-founder Larry Page was pressed with concerns about Android's iffy power management yesterday, and according to reports, all he could offer was a bigger battery. Eric Schmidt blamed third party software developers for using the phone's radio capabilities.
Well, duh. That's why the radio's there.
Google's realisation that there's more to a modern mobile handset than snazzy 60fps graphics transitions gives the market a welcome dose of realism. Symbian and Apple, each with its own very clear engineering approach to power management, come up smelling of roses.
Symbian had the advantage of starting from a sound basis, you might recall from our Psion retrospective. When Symbian OS was being devised, between 1994 and 1996, aggressive power management was a top priority.
"Every microamp was sacred," is how David Tupman described the hardware team's philosophy - Psion was still designing its own chips at the time. But the biggest help the hardware team had was an OS that drew very little power. The first Epoc machines used a quarter of the power draw of Microsoft's mobile OS.
It's an advantage that Symbian and Nokia, despite their missteps in recent years, have never really thrown away. If you want a smartphone with maximum power management, there's the modest (and barely promoted) Nokia E52 - eking out 6 hours of 3G talk time (and a month's standby) in a sub-100g package.
Apple has taken a different approach, basically disallowing all third party multitasking. The first iPhone only permitted multitasking for its own music player and in a very limited way, its email package. After two years, it added server-side push notifications, giving background applications the minimal information needed to respond. Still some way short of full multitasking.
This summer sees iPhone OS 4.0 released, with enhanced multitasking in seven areas, but it's closer to the notifications system of OS 3.0 than the pre-emptive multitasking a computer science course would define. An application developer foolish enough to write an application that polls constantly will get little joy. Version 4 does allow most of the use cases - receiving VoIP calls, for example - most people have asked for. But not at the expense of battery life.
In the long run, Page and Schmidt are right - you can't really improve power management easily if it isn't great to begin with, except by adding hardware. If and when Nokia and the Symbian licensees sort out the user interface problems (and there's not much sign of that yet), they'll continue to have a pretty unique advantage. ®
My Android is just fine, and better than my iPhone was..
Were the iPhone any better, then yes. But it isn't. So no.
I would like to see a third figure quoted for mobile phones alongside standby and talk-time: screen drain. Most of the time I use my phone it's not for talking but the big ol' screen is drawing power nonetheless. These days that's fairly critical.
Moore's Law doesn't apply to batteries
It just doesn't.
Symbian isn't the power-phobe it's being claimed to be!!
I too had an N95, charging nightly has been part and parcel of having a mobile in my pocket for years now. The Desire's battery isn't bad to be honest, I get a couple of days out of it - so about the same as my Nokia N95 back in the day, and the Desire is a much better experience too.
The OS has a big part to play, I agree, but at the same time hardware is also a major factor - once you add gps, 3g, 5-8mp camera's, bright high res screens, the OS allowing multitasking isn't going to harm the battery life that much more unless you install and run some major cpu hogging software, or something that constantly enables gps.
The Android SDK actually handles multitasking quite well... in theory your applications arn't really a single process that runs in the background constantly like your article implies, it's been designed so you never really need to close an application and nothing is allowed to just sit in the background and rape the resources without reason...you basically get 3 types of processes on the phone:
1 - Purely screen based reactionary apps - so you leave the application screen and nothing happens in the background.
2 - Reactive applications - so you register for notifications, Android slaps your application awake, says you get a second guaranteed run, then it can force close you whenever it things your are being a resource whore
3 - Background service - rare times when you need to keep alive, like a sat nav app, media player etc... but for the privilege of being allowed to run without interruption as long as you want, you are forced to add yourself to the notification bit to tell the user you are being annoying and want to stay alive... so then the user can then choose to kill you.
I've not had alot of time with the SDK to be honest, but it beats the crap out of the Symbian SDK which I played with... signing apps in that yearly was a joke, and the battery life on many Symbian phones was just as big a joke as any android or iphone offering.
I think Google are fairly spot on really... they're going to keep improving their power management, but if people insist on always-connected applications and prettier/better UI experiences, then the solution is going to have to be hardware based, so that's bigger batteries, and improvements in power consumption of components... my Desire's screen uses up next to nothing (4%) of the battery power on my phone compared to more than double that on my Hero last month... that's one generation and the screen is bigger, higher resolution, brighter, and less resource heavy... the only trade off is inability to see anything on it in direct sunlight.. which is actually not that upsetting in the UK. :)
FYI - the iPhone's battery life changed with every update for me, and not always for the better... one time it would die before it would charge at night... apple claimed it was a hardware issue with the battery, then I was making it up, a month later a new update arrives, battery life goes back to some sort of normality....
So in conclusion... I've no idea what my point was, I just felt like sharing, it's 11.37pm, and I'm about to go bed slightly drunk... night all! :)
In spite of the toilet incident, I'd just say your battery is reaching end-of-life and should be swapped out with a new one. I do this with my phone (not an iPhone) on a yearly (or there-abouts) basis...unless you're using an iPhone with which you can not remove/replace the battery....oh wait. :P