Apps that zap: How to figure out which apps are draining your smartphone battery

Carat reveals cellphone energy hogs, energy bugs

DENVER - Smartphone apps inform, entertain, educate and make life a lot easier until your battery dies. So what can you do about this? 7NEWS went in search of solutions.

“I've always fought with battery life on my phones," said 7NEWS Traffic Reporter Jayson Luber.

It’s so bad that Luber carries extra batteries for his Android phone with him in his pocket.

“I do, I carry extra smartphone batteries. I actually have four of these things and I keep them charged up all the time," Luber said.

That might sound ridiculous, but a lot of us, like mom Jeri-Sue Dean, can relate.

"I'm a teacher and we're getting into 21st century learning and you have to keep up,” said Dean.

Dean uses her iPhone for news, weather, music, games and more. She said she often has to recharge mid-day.

There are some obvious culprits, according to tech expert Rick McCloskey with One World Labs.

McCloskey said apps that use GPS, programs that constantly update and free games that have scrolling advertisements are battery drains.

One way to figure out what apps are zapping your phone is a free program called Carat, developed by researchers at University of California, Berkeley.

Carat identifies energy hogs and energy bugs on your individual device.

"An energy hog is an app that, across most devices, seems to use more energy than a typical app,” said Adam Oliner, one of Carat’s creators. "An energy bug is an instance of an app running on a particular device that uses far more energy on that device than on most other devices."

Once Carat identifies these, it offers recommendations to help a user get more out of his or her battery life.

Luber, Dean and McCloskey put Carat to the test.

Carat identified Luber’s email, Facebook, and bible apps as energy hogs and recommended he "kill" these programs when not in use to save his battery.

McCloskey found out he had apps running in the background even when they weren’t in use, like Yahoo news and a music app.

Dean is still waiting on her results.

It normally takes about a week to generate your personal report, but it can take longer. Oliner said the key is to open the app daily in order for Carat to collect the data it needs.

How accurate is Carat? Oliner said Carat’s recommendations are given with a 95% confidence rate.

Once you identify what’s zapping your battery, the solution can be simple: If you don’t use it, lose it.

The same goes for GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Turn these off when you don’t need them.

For things like Email, Facebook and Twitter, check out your settings.

“Email is probably the easiest example.  You can go in there and it'll say: 'How often do you want me to check your email... every one minute, five minutes, 10 minutes, once and hour?' So, setting those types of settings will cut down on battery usage," said McCloskey.

McCloskey said a few changes can really help your battery-life. It’s a matter of prioritizing.

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