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Free apps ‘not really free’ as they come with ‘hidden costs’ for users

April02/ 2015

Washington, Apr 02: A recent study has revealed that “there’s no such thing as free, especially with smartphone apps,” as free applications come with ads that consume more energy and network data, leading to frustrated users.

According to a research conducted by William Halfond, and researchers at USC, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and Queen’s University, Canada, the ads in free apps consume more battery, cause your phone to run slower and also use more data, up to 100 per cent more in some cases.

The researchers compared 21 top apps from the last year and measured their effect on phones through analysis tools loaded onto a Samsung Galaxy SII smartphone. When compared to ads without apps, it was found that those with ads used an average of 16 percent more energy, but up to 33 percent more, that lowered the battery life of a smartphone from 2.5 to 2.1 hours on average or down to 1.7 hours at the high end of energy usage.

It was also disclosed that apps with ads slowed down the Central Processing Unit (CPU) by taking an average of 48 percent more CPU time, 22 percent more memory use and 56 percent greater CPU utilization (the amount of time the CPU was used).

All these factors led users to become frustrated with these apps and rate them lower, costing them an overall average of .003 stars on a five-star rating scale.

Halfond explained that “in the crowded and competitive world of apps,” the small figure could make a big difference between an app getting downloaded or going unnoticed. He added that apps were the “future of software” and so he was hoping to create models which would allow app developers to predict how their products- both with and without ads, would be received by the users.

The study is to be presented in May, at the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE), Italy.

Tags: #Apps, #FreeApps, #TechNews
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