(EndPlay Staff Reports) - A new study found that some popular smartphone apps may actually be energy suckers thanks to third-party advertisements.
The study , completed by Purdue University and Microsoft, looked at six popular apps including AngryBirds, Facebook and Android's browser. Using eprof, an energy profiler designed for smartphone apps, researchers discovered in some cases as much as 65-75 percent of energy in free apps was spent in advertisement modules.
To do the study they used Android OS phones running 3G. Their main effort was to measure the time that smartphones took to complete I/O functions like accessing 3G or wi-fi data.
What they found was that several apps had "tails." This is when devices are still operating in full-power mode after the app is completed, which they discovered in some cases may be as long as 10 seconds.
In the case of AngryBirds, a third-party mobile data aggregator named Flurry runs as a separate thread and consumes 45 percent of the energy that's used during gameplay. GPS location tracking used to determine the player's position uses 15 percent of the power and its 3G tail consumes 24 percent.
A popular free chess game on Android Market uses the third-party AdLibrary AdWhirl, which the study stated consumes 50 percent of the power used during gameplay.
PCMag.com reported that the study shows users who avoid paying for ad-free apps may pay in battery life what they save in cash.
Report author Abhinav Pathak told BBC News that app makers should consider energy optimization more when they develop apps.
He referred to Angry Birds, saying that only 20 percent of the energy consumption goes into playing the game while 45 percent is used to determine the players' locations so it can provide targeted advertising.
Chris McClelland, director of app developer Ecliptic Labs, told the BBC that the findings didn't surprise him. He said advertising needs to send location information to the server.
"That just takes up so much battery," he said. "It seeps up energy."
McClelland said this is part of letting users enjoy free, ad-supported games and apps, but agreed developers should pay more attention to energy consumption.