2014-08-20

Co.Exist

This App Tells You Which Battery-Sucking Apps To Delete From Your Phone

Save your battery, while you still can!

How do we identify and discard energy-inefficient apps? According to two Stanford computer scientists, the solution lies in another app. Adam Oliner and Jacob Leverich designed a program called Normal to tell you which other apps you ought to kill.

It’s a telling problem that iOS message boards are plagued by constant complaints of mysteriously drained batteries. But instead of trying to figure out whether your phone is haunted by a poltergeist, Normal uses crowd-sourced user data to show how many minutes of battery life you’d save by exterminating other apps. Normal, as in “is my phone normal?” is the cold, calculating, cannibal of apps. It spares no one. Other than itself, of course.

“The key difference between the way Normal works and other battery apps work is that it aggregates data from a large number of devices, and is able not just to tell you what’s eating up your battery, but whether that use is normal,” Oliner says.

Installing the app means that the program can run some simple diagnostics on your phone, then add your energy information to the database. Example: It’s not a great idea to have Google Maps operating on background over the course of the day, but there’s probably something funky with your device if Maps drains your battery from 50% to 8% in a matter of minutes. Normal looks at what other people’s devices report as “normal,” then tabulates your energy use against theirs.

Oliner and Leverich say that Normal can be deployed far beyond the world of mobile apps. Their nascent company, Kuro Labs, aims to apply the tech to all sorts of devices, or even data centers. The data centers wouldn’t run on crowdsourced data, exactly, but instead identify and prioritize various energy-suckers within the building or compound. (This kind of technology is what Oliner and Leverich specialized in at Stanford.)

But the only problem with an app-killing app is that Normal can’t actually run diagnostics on itself, nor tell you how much of your battery it's using up. You’d need another app to do that, Oliner explains. Not that there’s a need, he argues. “It’s incredibly low power. It’s basically negligible.”

Without an endless mirrored hallway of app-analyzing apps, guess we’ll have to take his word for it.

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