If you are experiencing battery drain issues on your Android phone, and every bit of troubleshooting you've done has led you nowhere, the culprit could wind up being Google Play Services. Why? Because this particular service is responsible for much more than just updating applications. In fact, Google Play Services is crucial to your Android device's syncing, updating for both apps and accounts. Because of this, it spends a great deal of time churning away in the background. So when it goes sideways, it can quickly drain your battery.
There are three ways in which Google Play Services can drain your battery. Let's examine these issues.
I've seen this problem on a number of occasions. For whatever reason (e.g., an app cannot reach a server or an account has been disabled), Google Play Services runs into an issue and cannot sync an app. Google Play Service will continue attempting to sync that problematic account.
When you find a sync error (go to Settings | Accounts and check individual accounts for error notifications), your best bet is to tap the account and then check to see which service is having an issue with the account (Figure A).
Sync error on a Verizon-branded Nexus 6 Google account.
You can turn the service off and then back on (Figure B). Sometimes that will resolve the issue. If not, you may have to remove and add the account again.
Disable and enable a service within a Google account to resolve the syncing issue.
Too many accounts
How many Google accounts do you have on your device? Typically, most users have only one. However, I have run into users with multiple Google accounts on their devices. This means Google Play Services has to download/sync multiple data streams for multiple accounts. That's a lot of data to sync. Add to that (accounts such as IMAP, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and you can see why this issue could easily eat away at your battery.
If you absolutely must have multiple accounts on your device, you might consider having some of them sync only when connected to Wi-Fi.
Bad third-party apps
There are instances where a third-party app is misusing Google Play Services. This could be in the form of an app that takes advantage of the service's syncing ability — even to the extent of using it for nefarious reasons.
To find out if this is the case, boot your Android device into safe mode. If the battery drain is not an issue, then you can be sure it's a third-party app. Boot back into regular mode and uninstall the most recently installed apps. The problem should go away.
Battery drain on Android is becoming less and less of an issue, but sometimes the ghost in the machine has its way and your battery life will suffer. If you can't pinpoint the problem, look to Google Play Services and see if one of these tips resolves the issue.
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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 jackwallen.com.