Project Volta to Increase Android L Battery Performance
At the recently concluded Google I/O, the new Android L was showcased and it has received unanimous admiration. Even though Apple has won this year’s developer conferences by creating a new seamlessly interconnected universe; Google has a few surprises in the battery efficiency arena with its own Project Volta.
Battery technology has lagged in competition to almost all other elements of the phone designs. Within a short span of time, we have gone from HD to 2K phone screens. We have 4K video recording, better processors, better RAM, even the OS’s are competitive and getting better with each release. The loser in this entire race has been the battery. Even though, the phone manufacturers have compensated by making bigger batteries but almost all of them give only about a day’s worth of backup in their respective phones.
Google is working on the lines of its previous Project Butter initiative during the release of Android 4.1. Project Butter was directed towards making fundamental changes in Android to make it more efficient, smooth and lag free. There was also the Project Svelte, which was directed towards running the Android 4.4 on low-end devices, thereby making KitKat a truly inclusive Android operating system.
With Project Volta, Google introduces a slew of measures to find enhancements to the Android system to increase battery efficiency. Google hopes to fix fundamental flaws in its software architecture to address the battery issue.
Google invented a tool called the Battery historian for the developers to access what apps were using battery at a specific period. Using this, developers got to play around with the various variables which could help to make the best use of the precious juice in the battery.
Android is also completely incorporating the Android Runtime or ART and switching over from Dalvic runtime in a bet to improve efficiency and speeds. ART is available for testing on the Android 4.4, if some of you want to let your inner nerd flow. The difference between the two is that Dalvic compiles code every time an app starts and thereby waking the processor and in turn sucking in some juice every time. On the other hand, ART compiles and optimizes the codes well in advance thereby requiring less power to run apps.
Project Volta also introduces a new Job Scheduler API. With this, developers could program certain apps to work only when corresponding conditions are met. So instead of individual apps arbitrarily asking for processor access, multiple functions can be batched together and done at once for minimum use of battery life so that you can spend that extra juice for watching “dogs and babies” videos on YouTube.
Apart from this Android also inducted the battery saver mode which has been seen on manufacturers like Samsung and HTC. When the phone reaches the predetermined low battery level, the processor is slowed down, screen is dimmed, animations are reduced and the radio usage is decreased. This option is to maximize the last few moments of the battery before finding the sanctuary of a plug point.
These efforts seem to be showing some results as Ars Technica did an extensive test and found the Android L to be 36% more battery efficient, and that’s quite impressive.
There have been some efforts by the markets to address the battery issue. The Oppo Find 7 is a good example. With its fast charging VOOC charger, the Find 7 boasts of charging 0-75% battery in 30 minutes. Apart from this the market is also flooded with power-banks but they become just one more extra piece of equipment to charge and carry around. What is needed is a back-to-drawing-board study of the battery and maybe Google should make it a priority at the Google X (its semi-secret research facility) now.
With the amount of dependency we have on our smartphones and the information they hold on us, battery technology should be a priority research. The company that delivers the best battery improvement will surely emerge a winner in this over-saturated market. It’s about time that Smartphones got some Smart Batteries.