Scientists have developed a tool that they say can noticeably improve battery life on mobile phones. Called HUSH, the code monitors background app activities and turns them off when they are not needed.
The research was a collaboration between Purdue University, Intel and Mobile Enerlytics, and involved the study of 2,000 Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4 smartphones on 191 mobile operators in 61 countries.
HUSH was developed for Android phones, but it is not yet an app; at the moment, it is simply a piece of coding for the operating system, which can be downloaded on Github. In tests, though, the researchers said their proposed method can save 15.7% of phone battery – about a sixth of daily use.
Other programs like this are available, noticeably apps such as Doze. But study co-author Y. Charlie Hu, a Purdue professor of electrical and computer engineering, said in a statement that the research is the "first large-scale study of smartphone energy drain ‘in the wild,’ or in everyday use by consumers."
In the study the researchers said that, on a typical day, apps drain about 28.9% of battery power while a phone’s screen is off. "Apps wake the phone up periodically during screen-off to do useful things, but then afterward, they should let the phone go back to sleep," said Hu in the statement. "They are not letting the phone go back to sleep because of software bugs and, specifically, due to the incorrect use of Android power control application programming interfaces called wakelocks."
HUSH works by identifying background app activities that are not useful to a particular user, such as Facebook updates for those who rarely check them, and supresses them while the screen is off, reducing battery drain. The researchers are also looking at ways to reduce energy drain from regular communication needs; phones typically send a signal to a Wi-Fi beacon every 200 milliseconds, or talk to a cellular base station every 1.28 seconds to check for calls and data.
Hu said that the ultimate goal was to double the battery life for smartphones. If you want to make use of HUSH at the moment, though, you’ll have to get to grips with a bit of basic coding, but the researchers said they are working to release an app version soon.