The smartest smartphone is only as good as it has energy. And whilst we have seen some development to improve battery life, most devices are still at the “one day of most peoples’ use” point. So what can we do to help that doesn’t involve changing how we use our handset or buying accessories?
One of the solutions that I’ve used is GreenPower, available either as a free or Premium (£1.90) app from the Google Play Store. The free version allows you to enable and disable mobile data and WiFi. GreenPower also has the ability to control the AutoSync settings and to force the device to synchronize when the Internet connection is enabled. The basic set up has the Internet connection on when the screen is on and off when the screen is off. When the screen is off, the app can periodically enable the Internet connection to synchronize your accounts or you can elect to keep the Internet connection off if you prefer.
The premium version adds Bluetooth control, including the ability to turn it on during calls and off afterwards, specific app control and a Night Mode in addition to the standard Day Mode.
Setting up the application is easy. There are a lot of functions available even in the free version but I’m pleased to write that the developer, Gaël Pouzerate, has written the application to work well right out of the box. The key thing to change are how often you want the device to go online when it is not in use.
The application is intelligently written and has some great features, including how it will check to see if there is internet activity before shutting the connection down. This means if you send an email and then immediately lock the handset, your email will be sent before the connection is closed. If you use GreenPower to manage the WiFi radio, you can tell the device to turn the WiFi radio off after a given period of time if it does not find a known WiFi hotspot.
The only issue I have found with the default configuration is associated with how free WiFi hotspots work. If your device recognizes a WiFi hotspot but you have to click a button on a website to sign in, when the WiFi radio is shut down, the hot spot forgets about your device. This means that when you use the device again, you need to re-sign in again. This is not GreenPower’s fault but something to bear in mind if you use free hotspots a lot – Gaël has added an option to keep your WiFi on if the device is already connected to a hotspot.
Another issue I have come across, which again is not GreenPower’s fault, is how long it takes for the device to pair up to a wireless hands free or car kit when Bluetooth is activated. Sometimes, this is too long and the call is sent to voicemail before the user can answer it.
My final observations with a power saving application such as GreenPower is that it will not work for everybody. For the user constantly checking their device to see if there are any messages, causing GreenPower to cycle on and off the radios, this will not save battery and may even hurt battery life. Conversely, for somebody who spends a lot of time driving, having the Internet connection shut down when moving helps save a lot of battery, especially if the ‘phone is paired up to a Bluetooth hands free kit and it is fast enough to connect up to handle an incoming call.