Friday, June 15, 2012

Free Carat app finds 'energy bugs,' 'energy hogs' on Android and iOS devices

A new and free iOS and Android app, Carat, aims to help improve the bane of smartphones: battery life.

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Carat does so by taking measurements about device usage, sending it back to UC Berkeley's AMP Lab, where it is analyzed and sent back to end users in the form of "advice" about how to improve their battery life.  That advice could include action about specific apps that are "energy hogs" or contain "energy bugs."

AMP Lab is not out to make money, nor to steal your information.  Instead, Carat was built by a team of scientists from the UC Berkeley electrical engineering and computer science department’s AMP Lab (Algorithms, Machines, and People Laboratory). In a blog post, AMP Lab said,

"Using data from our beta deployments, we have already identified thousands of energy bugs manifesting in the wild. Carat not only detects such misbehavior, but assists diagnosis by correlating with device features like the operating system version and what resources are available (e.g., WiFi or GPS).

"Some of these bugs caused afflicted users to see battery life that was shorter by hours, even compared to other users of the same app (but where the bug did not trigger). Users were told what misbehavior Carat found on their devices and how to fix it, such as by restarting the app or upgrading the OS."

"Energy bugs" are apps that are using a lot more power from your specific device than other devices that Carat has measured them running on. Theoretically, they are using more power than on other devices because they are possibly malfunctioning; it that so Carat would recommend that you restart or re-download them.

"Energy hogs" are apps that just normally use of lot of power or run in the background, such as streaming music apps.

Some of the conclusions already made from AMP Labs beta deployments include:
  • In an initial test with just 100 users, Carat found 35 apps with "energy bugs."
  • Since then, Carat has found thousands of other energy bugs on devices in the wild
  • Skype, Yelp, and Pandora are some of the most popular energy hogs. They require more power than most apps and could be among those that are best to temporarily kill.
AMP Lab says that Carat uses almost no energy, and that the longer you use it, the better your recommendations will be. In addition, any "energy bugs" found by the app are shared with the app developers.

Carat can be found free in both the App Store and Google Play.

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