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Let Power Saving Mode keep your battery from draining too quickly

Jack Wallen shows you how you can use Power Saving Mode to help conserve your battery life. He also recommends a widget for re-enabling services.

Our mobile life must be reliable. When we're out in the field or with a client, the last thing we need is to have our devices run out of power. Fortunately, since we don't always have access to a USB or electrical connection, there are other ways to manage battery usage. Let me introduce you to the Android Power Save Mode.

Power Saving Mode monitors your battery and, upon reaching a percentage, will shut off certain features to keep the battery from draining too quickly. Now, there's one caveat to this: Once the power saver shuts off features, it doesn't turn them back on once the battery has leveled back up. This is an intentional feature, but many people consider it a design flaw. Theoretically, you should be able to set minimums for both "on" and "off," but as it stands, the Android Power Save Mode only allows you to set a minimum for the "off" mode -- so, when your battery reaches a configured state, the features turn off.

Why is this desirable? Well, not everyone is keen on watching their battery drain. When you're knee-deep in work, your eyes tend to be on the work and not on your battery status. Because of this, it's handy to have the Power Saving Mode auto-initiate these changes to help save you from losing your work.

The lack of an "on" minimum can be fixed with the addition of a simple icon or widget, and we'll cover that later. First, let's take a look at how to manage the built-in Power Saving Mode.

Getting to the settings

To get to the Power Save Mode settings, open up the Settings window and tap Power saving mode. In this new pane (Figure A), you'll see that Power Saving Mode is disabled by default. Figure A

Power saving mode settings on a Verizon-branded Galaxy Tab.
To enable the Power Saving Mode feature, tap the check box for Use Power saving mode. Once you've done this, you can configure the level at which you want the savings to kick in. Simply tap the entry for Power saving mode on to reveal a new window (Figure B). Figure B

Fifty percent might be a bit high for this feature, but it does give you plenty of time to get to a location for recharging.

Set the percentage you want to use, and then select the options you want to be turned off when Power Saving Mode kicks in. You can turn off:

  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • GPS
  • Sync

You can also set the brightness to be adjusted when Power Saving Mode kicks in. If you enable this feature, tap on the Brightness percentage entry, and then select from either 10, 30, 50, 70, or 100 percent. Remember, this is how much the brightness is lowered.

Finally, scroll all the way down to the bottom to see the Timeout setting. This is the delay (in seconds) before the screen automatically turns off. The range is fifteen seconds all the way up to thirty minutes. Adjust this according to what percentage kicks Power Saving Mode in and how close you are to a charging location.

You're all set with Power Saving Mode. Now comes the issue that most people have faced -- turning everything back on when you have a full charge. As I mentioned, this can be easily overcome with a widget. With older versions (and some remaining versions) of Android, you could add on/off toggle buttons for these services (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc). In light of those features being removed, you can download a widget from the Google Play Store. One of my favorites is Power Widget. This little widget will set you back $1.99 (USD), but its flexibility is well worth the cost. This particular widget has quite a few of settings (Figure C) that you won't find in many other widgets with the same purpose. Figure C

This is the trial version of the app (Power Widget iite). Tap the Unlock Power Widget to purchase the full version.

With a handy widget on your homescreen, you can then re-enable all of the services that are disabled through Power Saving Mode.

It's not a perfect solution, but it's one that works well. Hopefully, in future releases, the developers of Android will make the necessary changes to the Power Saving Mode for automatic re-enabling of the services. Until then, a simple widget will help you re-enable the services and turn a frustrating Power Saving Mode feature into something that's actually helpful.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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