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Posted on May 1st, 2013 by Barry Collins

Google Now draining iPhone battery

Photo 01-05-2013 09 58 54

Google Now was added to the Google Search app for iPhone and iPad earlier this week, and already appears to have infuriated many users with excessive battery drain.

Google Now provides a series of cards that deliver location-based data, such as how long it will take you to get home from your current location, local restaurant reviews, and how far you’ve walked this week. This obviously requires the app to make use of the iPhone’s GPS chip, and users of the app may have noticed that the GPS notification icon is now almost permanently displayed in the status bar at the top of the home screen.

GPS is one of the more battery-intensive tasks on a phone. Anyone who’s used a satnav app, such as TomTom, will attest how quickly the battery drains when the GPS is in constant use.

The impact on battery life is far from minimal if my experience, and that of many others, is anything to go by

Google Now’s Location services are turned on by default. Indeed, if you delve into the Google Now settings, Google offers an explanation of how the Location Services work:

“Note: You may notice the Location Services icon in your status bar after you start using Google Now. It appears because Google Search sometimes reports your location even when you’re not actively using the app. Google Now uses these reports to give you traffic alerts and other updates. Along with Location Services, Google Now uses Location Reporting to get precise location information. Since Location Reporting has been optimised to use GPS as infrequently as possible, there should be minimal impact on your battery life.”

The impact on battery life is far from minimal, if my experience, and that of many others, is anything to go by. On a two-hour journey to work this morning, my iPhone 4S battery dropped from 100% to only 65% by the time I reached work, whereas normally it would have between 80% to 85% remaining. It’s also much warmer than normal.

Users on the MacRumours forums are also reporting excessive drain.  ”Just installed it and my iPhone 4 got nice and warm. The location services were on full time, even when I stopped the app! I had to delete it to get the GPS to stop.”

The battery only appears to drain heavily when I’m on the move, likely because Google is using the Wi-Fi connection to determine the iPhone’s location when I’m at home or in the office. We’ve asked Google for an explanation, but have yet to hear back.

It is possible to turn Location Reporting off  – click the Google Now settings cog, tap Settings in the top left of the screen, select Privacy and slide Location Reporting to off — and this does appear to stop the GPS icon appearing permanently in the status bar, while still allowing location-based services such as traffic updates to work as normal. I’ll report back on whether this improves battery life in a day or two.

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Posted in: Hardware, Newsdesk

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10 Responses to “ Google Now draining iPhone battery ”

  1. Graham Says:
    May 1st, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Given that Google Now seems to be fairly useless anyway I’d just turn it off and save the battery for something more useful.

     
  2. N123654 Says:
    May 1st, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    It works fine on android.

     
  3. jay Says:
    May 2nd, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Google Now is not designed for low spec phones. Shoving it into an Iphone is asking got trouble. Maybe the new Iphone6 with large capacity battery will be able yo handle it.

     
  4. Ben Says:
    May 2nd, 2013 at 10:10 am

    I noticed a couple of weeks ago that my Galaxy S3 was suddenly eating it’s battery. A quick delve into the battery menu showed that Google+ was the culprit – 40-50% of usage by itself. Killing it off has restored usage to normal.

     
  5. Graham Says:
    May 2nd, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    @jay – that’s a lovely bit of trolling, shame this blog isn’t getting the volume of comments to make it worthwhile.

    Having turned Google Now on my SGS3 back on, it’s currently telling me that it’s sunny outside (which I know) and that it would take me 145 minutes to get home, if I caught a bus (which I won’t as it’ll only take me about 40 if I catch the Metro, which Now seems completely unaware of).

    I think I’ll turn it off again…

     
  6. Marc Says:
    May 2nd, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    If only mobile operators could get an API together to allow apps to track location from their end (they’re doing it anyway) so for services that don’t need GPS level accuracy it wouldn’t take any additional battery at all, they’d get updates from the mobile operator.

     
  7. KMUK77 Says:
    May 7th, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    We found an interesting, yet worrying trait this weekend when travelling with Google Maps open on an iPad without wifi.

    Usually, we find a route & then use it as a check whilst en route.
    This weekend in Portugal, the iPad kept mysteriously updating our location on the map.

    How does it do this?

     
  8. Bruce Says:
    May 7th, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Google Now uses quite a bit of battery on my S3, too, so not surprised it noticable after installation on an iPhone. Get better battery stats on your android phone and you’ll see just how much the location stuff uses…even without access to GPS. If Android didn’t have it, and it was installed afterwards, there’d be similar complaints……

     
  9. Bruce Says:
    May 7th, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Also, Ben. If you’re having that issue with G+, check to see if mediascanner is also using your battery….if this is the case, you’ve got duff media files on your SD card…… (G+ is scanning for new pics and makes the issue more obvious…..)

     
  10. Ben Says:
    May 9th, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Thanks Bruce. It doesn’t look like it was mediascanner but worth checking.

     

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