Covert App Communications on Android Lead to Faster Battery Drains

16 December 2015

Auckland: Most of the apps today require the use of data to perform their tasks, but according to MIT, a Cambridge based Research University, more than half of the communications are being established providing no benefits to the user. Keeping aside the questions like why are such communications being established, it’s also been said that such communications reduce the battery life of the device and also exposes the device to privacy risks.

The researchers also wrote that, according to their analysis, 63% of the external communications which are happening over popular Android applications actually have no effect on the app functionality.

Also, the researchers probed 500 popular Android applications from Google Play Store. Most of the free applications use data for advertising when they are operating, but there shouldn’t be a significant amount of background traffic.

The researchers also disabled the communication of apps and found that it didn’t affect the experience on most of the apps. This made them describe such communications as ‘covert’.

Battery Life’s Getting Affected Heavily

It’s been found that the background communications are affecting the battery life heavily. Research says that, most widely used applications that are causing battery drain are Twitter and Facebook. It also says that, Twitter collects the information about the videos followed by users while the apps use Facebook’s social graph services to transmit data about the usage of apps.

Communication Must Be Intimated!

According to Julia Rubin, one among the MIT research contributors said that, there might be a very good reason for this covert communication but the thing is we don’t know the reason. He says that, nobody is expecting the covert communication to be completely eliminated; all that the users need is the communication to be intimated.

Google is the Biggest Culprit

It’s found in the research that Google has been the biggest culprit in covert communications as 76.4% of Google apps were found to have covert communications. As it’s considered that the primary business of Google is based on advertising, it might be surprising that the company is receiving lots of communications in the background. Major players using the background communications are Gameloft, Google, Millennial Media, InMobi, Mobileleads, Mopub, Facebook, Tapjoy and Flury.

As the device’s battery is being greatly affected by covert communications, Google in its latest operating system has focused mainly on improving the battery life and has introduced a feature called ‘Doze’.  This new feature on Android Marshmallow reduces the battery consumption by deferring the background CPU and network activity for apps when the device stays unused for long time.

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