New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

Google Employee Claims Google Now App Does Not Cause Significant Battery Impact

googlesearch.pngAfter Google Now was added to the Google Search app last week, many users began complaining that the app was draining battery by constantly accessing the iPhone’s Location Services.

According to a Google employee who posted on the Macworld forum (via The Next Web), Google Now does not excessively drain battery, despite the fact that the app often causes the Location Services icon to remain active.
Hi there,
I’m with Google and wanted to address this issue:
Reports that Google Now on iOS drains battery life are incorrect. We understand people’s concern about seeing the Location Services icon stay on when they use Google Now. Many apps that keep the icon on actually do drain the phone’s battery because they require very accurate location. (For example, some apps have to run your GPS all the time during navigation to keep you from missing your turn.) This update to the Google Search app is built very differently: it uses cell towers and wifi hot spots for much lower battery impact.
The employee, who was confirmed to be working for Google by The Next Web, goes on to say that Google Now was tested for several months on iOS without reports of significant battery impact. In the Google Search app description, Google clarifies that the app does not access the iPhone’s GPS, using cell towers and Wi-Fi hotspots as the employee claims.

Google Now, which is Google’s version of a virtual assistant, continually accesses user data to provide information like local weather updates and traffic conditions, which is what may be causing issues for some users.

Not all Google Now users appear to be experiencing battery problems, with some MacRumors forum members reporting no excessive battery drainage while others report rapid battery loss.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

21 months ago

How about the "many users" quit complaining and stop using the app? Instant fix.


That fixes nothing.
Rating: 20 Votes
21 months ago
I just hate the location icon constantly being in the status bar, that is the reason I turned it off.
Rating: 17 Votes
21 months ago
I believe what Google says. Mainly because the complaints I saw popped up mere minutes after the app launched.

Those aren't battery complaints. Those are "I see an arrow" complaints. Real battery assessment takes days.

I've had many other apps that use geofencing (like Apple's own Reminders) without seeing a huge impact on battery. I'm sure this Google Now service works the same way.
Rating: 17 Votes
21 months ago
Ive had the app for a week, and haven't had any battery issues.
Rating: 13 Votes
21 months ago
…is actually longer.

And it's growing new hair on my head!
Rating: 13 Votes
21 months ago

Google should have no excuse to fix this


Fix what? Have been trying this out for a few days with no noticeable impact on my battery.
Rating: 13 Votes
21 months ago
How about the "many users" quit complaining and stop using the app? Instant fix.
Rating: 12 Votes
21 months ago
Based on the description from the Google Engineer the app uses Core Location's "Significant Location Change Notification." This is a very battery efficient API to Core Location that triggers a location event whenever your phone sees a new cell phone tower or new wifi hotspot. It does not use GPS, which is what most apps use to track location in the background causing a significant loss in battery.

The location icon is enabled when generating significant change location notifications because according to Apple Engineers at WWDC, "Knowing your device hasn't significantly changed locations is still tracking the device's location, and the purpose of that icon is to tell users when an app knows about their location". So even though it doesn't follow you with the GPS, a user should see the indicator because the app "knows" where they are—or rather, where they aren't.

So it's not continually tracking your location and draining your battery, it only triggers an event if the phone automatically connects to a new tower. Thus, no extra battery loss. The only way I could see a battery hit is if you were in a low signal area that was constantly changing towers.

According to the API reference it will generate a notification every 500 meters or so, with at least 5 mins between each notification

https://developer.apple.com/library/ios/documentation/CoreLocation/Reference/CLLocationManager_Class/CLLocationManager/CLLocationManager.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40007125-CH3-SW43
Rating: 10 Votes
21 months ago
Turned on Google Now. Left home, listening to tunes. Went from full charge to half charge in 3 hours. Turned off Google Now. Still playing tunes. Went from half charge to quarter charge in 5 hours. I don't know what Google calls "significant battery impact" but I know what I call "significant battery impact".
Rating: 6 Votes
21 months ago

I wasn't aware this was a problem until I saw this article.
I did noticed last night the Location Services icon showing on the top bar in my iPad. When I checked to see what was accessing it, it was the Google app, which was not even open or running. It's probably a background process it has.

Continued access to Location Services could definitely cause battery drainage. So as a quick fix I disabled Location Services for Google.

Take note I haven't seen this behavior until I upgraded to the latest Google app.

Does anyone else noticed something like this?

Or you could simply go into the options within the Google app settings and disable the background location setting there (so the app can still use location when needed, but won't do it "continuously" in the background).
Rating: 6 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]