Yesterday, New Scientist reported that only about one-fifth of the typical free app’s power is spent on delivering app content, and the rest is spent on delivering the advertising that’s incorporated into most free versions of apps. From the report:
For example, in Angry Birds only 20 per cent is used to display and run the game, while 45 per cent is spent finding and uploading the user’s location with GPS then downloading location-appropriate ads over a 3G connection.
The report goes on to say additional battery life is consumed keeping the 3G connection open an additional 10 seconds during each ad refresh. If you’re wondering why you should care, it’s all about battery life. In the example given above, if it weren’t for the requirement to deliver ads the free Angry Birds app would use 80% less power and therefore be less of a drain on your Fire’s (or other Android device’s) battery.
If you’re thinking, “So what? My Fire’s battery is rechargeable,” think again. First, there’s the increased cost you’re paying for electricity each time you recharge. But secondly, and much more critically, each recharge shortens the life of your Fire’s Lithium Ion (Li) Polymer rechargeable battery—thereby shortening the life of your Fire device, since its battery is not replaceable.
Lithium Ion rechargeables of all kinds generally last for 400-600 recharges, though there are some steps you can take to prolong the life of your Li Ion rechargeable, as reported on the Battery University site.
The $1-$3 you may be “saving” by selecting the free version of an app instead of paying for the ad-free version isn’t such a good deal if you’re paying that $1-$3 many times over in additional electricity costs, especially if it’s going to force your Fire into early retirement.
So next time you’re browsing the app store, if an ad-free version of the app you’re eyeing is available consider downloading the free version for a test drive only and, if you find ads in the app, go back to get the ad-free versions of any you like. Uninstalling the free version on your Fire is easy: just long-tap (touch and hold your touch) on the app’s icon, and tap “Remove From Device” from the pop-up menu. The ad-free version of Angry Birds is just 99 cents, and that’s a real bargain.
Another tip: Amazon’s Free App of the Day offerings are not ad-supported, but full-featured versions of apps that you’d have to pay for on any other day, so you can grab Free Apps of the Day as often as you like without worrying about any extra battery drain.