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Determining the power consumption of a smartphone application

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000215890D
Publication Date: 2012-Mar-14
Document File: 3 page(s) / 32K

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Portable computing devices, such as smart phones, tablet computers, navigation devices and laptop computers, may be capable of running software (sometimes called “applications” or “apps” for short).  Applications pertain to almost any conceivable function, organization of information, recreation or process.  In general, applications include sets of machine-executable instructions, and a processor in the portable computing device carries out the instructions.  A user can obtain an application from many sources, such as by downloading the application over a network.

Many of these portable computing devices include a power supply, such as a battery.  To aid with portability, the power supply can supply power to the electronic components of the device without the device being connected by an electrical wire to a wall outlet or other source of power.  The power supply for a portable electronic device is limited, however, and generally must be replenished in some fashion from time to time.  For a typical user of a smart phone, for example, replenishing the power supply may mean recharging the device’s rechargeable battery.  If the battery runs low, the device might no longer be able to fully function, and might not function at all.  To be competitive in the market, it is desirable for a portable computing device to be able to operate on battery for the longest period of time possible.  It is also desirable to make replenishing the power supply a less frequent occurrence, and to reduce waste of power.  For reasons such as these, it is important to monitor power consumption. 

Applications consume power.  Applications also consume resources of a portable computing device, such as processor time and memory (and may deprive other software running on the portable computing device from using these resources).  But it is power that seems to be where the demands of some applications are quickly observed by a user.  When some applications are running, the device’s battery may seem to drain significantly faster than usual.  If the application is running without the user’s knowledge, the power can drain without the user becoming aware.  In some cases, the user becomes aware of the power drain, in an unpleasant fashion, by discovering that the device has no power and cannot function.

Several factors affect the power consumption of the portable computing device, but applications are an important factor. Some applications are “well-behaved” in that they conserve or prudently use resources and power, or may deactivate in case of an extended period of non-use, or may advise a user of power demands being made by the application.  Not all applications are well-behaved, however.  

There have been several attempts to educate users about the impact of an application on the device in general and on the device’s power supply in particular.  In spite of education, however, users find that power supplies get drained and resources get...