Software Development

Three free apps to get the most out of your battery life

Brandy Courtade highlights three free Android apps that, when used in conjunction with one another, help extend her smartphone battery life.

Battery life is important in a smartphone, seeing as it's the most portable computing device around and should be utilized as such. Road warriors, or traveling business power users, know better than anyone the importance of long battery life. There are several ways to extend battery life, but in this post, I'm going to focus on three apps that you can use in conjunction with each other to manage your smartphone's battery.

First, let's walk through the basics of Battery Indicator, a free app by Darshan Computing, LLC.

  1. Download Battery Indicator from Google Play.
  2. Read the permissions, then tap Accept and Download.
  3. Select Open.
  4. The app will inform you that certain task managers may try to kill it (this is a non-issue with Advanced Task Killer) and how to get individual percentage readings for phones that display in increments of 10 by default. Tap Okay.
  5. You will now be able to see the percentage of your battery, a View Battery Use button, and an Upgrade/Donate button (see Figure 1). Tap View Battery Use.
Figure 1

Screenshot of the Battery Indicator app.

You should now see each process that's running, and what percentage of the power it's using. On my Galaxy S II, the Voice calls process is using the most power at 46 percent.

Battery Indicator also shows battery health. Using my phone's statistics again, it reads like this: Good Health / 30 degrees Celsius / 3.966 volts. Monitoring temperature is an important factor as well (see Michael Kassner's post, "Five tips for extending lithiu9m-ion battery life"), so this is handy.

You can see how long you've been on battery power as well. If you identify that a particular app is using a significant amount of power that you don't need, you can potentially use Advanced Task Killer to close it. Here's how:

  1. Download and install Advanced Task Killer from Google Play.
  2. Tap Open.
  3. The app will warn you that it cannot kill certain apps in Android versions 2.2 and up. Tap Okay.
  4. To kill apps, select the checkboxes next to them and click KILL selected apps (as shown in Figure 2).
Figure 2

Screenshot of Advanced Task Killer app.

Some people question the efficacy of this task manager, but remember -- you can't kill certain apps (these appear in green). Instead, you have to manually kill them. It's mildly irritating when you can't close an app that also gives you no option to close it natively, but Advanced Task Killer works well with apps that aren't in green. As such, I still find this tool invaluable.

If you have a particular app you'd like to keep out of the "hit list," perform the following steps:

  1. Open Advanced Task Killer
  2. Long-press on the desired app
  3. From the menu that appears, tap Ignore

So, why would you bother to do that when you already have the option to select which apps you want to kill? Well, those who want the most efficient experience possible can create a widget version that allows you to kill all running apps with one touch (see Jack Wallen's post, "Save battery life on your Android phone with Advanced Task Killer"). However, if you need to keep an app or two open, it's nice to be able to add these to the Ignore list and kill all other apps so easily.

Conversely, you can use the long-press to kill an app instead of the checkbox. This is more convenient when you only need to close one app, especially since -- for most people's fingers -- that checkbox is a bit small on the average smartphone's 4.x-inch screen.

The last app I'd like to talk about requires nothing of you after setup. You may be familiar with AnTuTu's popular benchmarking app. Well, they also developed Battery Saver, which scales processes where applicable to make your phone more power efficient. This does not work with all devices, but it does with most. My experience with it has been quite positive, getting as much as an extra three hours of non-stop use out of a charge with the level three setting. The best part is that it doesn't appear to affect performance. In fact, I don't even notice that it's there.

Let's install and setup this useful tool.

  1. Download Battery Saver from Google Play.
  2. Read the permissions, and then tap Accept and Download.
  3. Tap Open.
  4. Once updates are verified, click OK.
  5. Tap the arrow in the center to enable.
  6. Tap the plus sign on the right for level 2, and again for level 3 (this is what I use)
Figure 3

Screenshot of Battery Saver app.

You don't have to do anything else but let it work its magic. If you still want more, you can tap "upgrade full" for extra levels. Battery Saver also shows your battery's discharge temperature. In your launch bar, tapping it will show the temperature in Farenheit (if you fully open the app, it's shown in Farenheit and Celsius). You can compare it against Battery Indicator's readings to determine the accuracy.

These three free apps, when used in conjunction with each other, make monitoring and managing your power use easy and efficient. Without a task manager to close apps, Batter Indicator's power statistics have little practical benefit. Advanced Task Killer solves this. In turn, Battery Indicator lets you know which apps will give you the most boost by being killed. And Battery Saver gives the added, passive boost that's especially beneficial when you need high-power apps open on the go, still hoping to get a decent cycle.

What measures have you taken to squeeze out more battery life? Have you found apps that you'd recommend? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.

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About

Brandy Courtade has spent her whole life tinkering with whatever gadgets and technologies she can get her hands on. She contributes to the IT news analysis site Infoboom and is also a Gadgets Examiner for Examiner.com.

10 comments
billet
billet

I have found Watchdog Lite the most useful. It just warns me if an app is using to much processor %. Then I can choose to kill if I don't think it should be. High processor use = high battery use. Since then I have had no big suprise dead battery in the afternoon days. ATK made no impact +ve or -ve on my phone so I uninstalled.

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

Google devs and informed users have known since the days of Android 2.0 that task killers like ATK do more harm than good.

mkborchert
mkborchert

Can't speak to all phones, but the Advanced Task Killer made my Android 3 phone crawl like a snail when changing apps, even thumbing across home screens. And even when the built in task manager showed it as not running. Like walking through water. Uninstalling it at the advice of a Verizon rep brought back instant speed.

ghanson59
ghanson59

I did not realize that The Weather Channel app was consuming 33%(!) of power. Well, it WAS consuming 33% of power...

anjali189
anjali189

Hi There, I want to tell you something about Advance task Killer. I've found my Droid to execute obviously quicker with Advanced Task Killer uninstalled. This was one of the first apps I put on my phone to help remain it running fast, but I have been very disappointed with the slow performance. I've gone via many reboots and systematic installing/uninstalling of apps until I hit upon the least likely offender, ATK. After eliminate it totally, I've noticed a major difference in respect to keyboard lag, UI refreshing, and possibly battery life. Now I'm interested if anybody also has observed this? Thanks...!

xamountofwords
xamountofwords

Thank you for your input. However, this doesn't appear to be a cut and dry issue. My experience with it has been positive and I have yet to see any damage. This may not be the case for all devices.

xamountofwords
xamountofwords

I did not experience this issue. There was no notable difference in speed for me. As I comment below, it would appear that results vary.

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

I've got a weather widget that I usually manually set to my zip code, because I don't travel much at all outside of the metro area. However, over the Easter weekend, I set it to geolocate, so it was dynamically updating my weather forecast based on where I was. I definitely noticed my battery went down faster than normal. Set it back to the static location after the trip and my battery life is back to what I expect.

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

I installed it early when I got my phone like you did, and for a couple of months was routinely killing tasks using a home screen shortcut, but when I started learning more about Android, I decided I'd test out what the devs were posting to their blogs and uninstalled it after I thought I had a good baseline for battery and OS performance. I never reinstalled it, if that tells you anything. My observation is that if you find that your performance takes a noticeable hit after installing a new app, then the problem is with the app and not the OS. I don't keep bad apps on my phone.

ed
ed

Haven't noticed it if it wasn't running in the background. When I use it, I have it kill itself, too, so there is one less item running.