Google Now doesn’t tax your battery, says Google, but users beg to differ

By , May 2, 2013

Google Search 3.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 002)Google Search 3.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 004)

As we told you yesterday, a growing number of users report problems with the Google Now feature depleting their iPhone’s battery fast due to its reliance on iOS location capabilities. On Monday, the Internet giant finally brought Google Now capabilities to iDevices via an update to its native Search iOS app.

Responding to the battery life concerns, Google on Thursday issued a statement denying any problems with the app draining your iPhone’s battery…

Lifehacker has Google’s statement, dismissing reports on the matter as “incorrect”:

Reports that Google Now 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 a navigation app has to run your GPS all the time to keep you from missing your turn. Google Now is built very differently: it uses cell towers and wifi hot spots for much lower battery impact.

We extensively tested Google Now on iOS for months and didn’t see reports of significant battery impact — we would encourage you to try it in the Google Search app for a few days and we don’t expect you to see significant impact on your battery.

If you are seeing a problem, please do tell us (just tap feedback in the app settings). We take user feedback very seriously.

Jim Dalrymple of The Loop exposes Google’s non-denial for what it really is:

Funny, because a lot of people said that once they deleted the app, the battery returned to normal functionality.

If you ask me, the bigger concern here is that Google tracks my location through the Search app pretty much the whole day. Worse, the app opts-in location tracking rather than make it opt-out by default.

Anyhow, you can disable Location Reporting in Google Now and reclaim your battery life by going to settings (the gear icon) and disabling Location Reporting under Privacy.

Google Now (turn of location)

You’ll lose functionality in location-based cards like traffic and weather, but Google should stop tracking your location 24/7. If that doesn’t help, open the iOS Settings app and deny location services to the Search app in Privacy > Location Services.

Should the problem persist, deleting the app from your device will do.

According to iTunes release notes and a thread on Google’s support forums, in order to provide up-to-the-minute information, the app enables iOS Location Services to receive “passive updates from nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi hot spots.”

The software also “stays asleep” unless your device moves a long distance and pauses location updates when it senses that your iPhone’s battery is running low.

However, Google Now also taps Location Reporting to get accurate location readings. Location Reporting has been optimized to use GPS as infrequently as possible so “there should be minimal impact on your battery life.”

However, if a growing thread on Google’s support forums, many people seem to be affected by the battery drain problem. Truth be told, any program that relies on frequent location polling is bound to tax the iPhone’s battery, that’s just a fact of life.

If I wanted to be cynical, I’d probably note that’s one of the reasons why many Android handsets have massive batteries.

How’s your battery life been after the update to Google Now?

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  • itsme

    It keeps my GPS on constantly even when the app is not running, I confirmed this in Settings/Privacy/Location Services – Google always has the purple flag next to it which is draining my battery. I turned off Google Now and battery life is fine.

    • pegger1

      You didn’t read the above article did you?

      • http://twitter.com/Jackzzz99 Jack Wong

        Please tell me about it.

      • chepeloni

        i read the article. and i was experiencing the same thing as the OP. i deleted the app, not only because of this reason, but didn’t find anything amazing worth enough to keep it on my iphone. chrome is enough for me.

  • Javier Martinez

    Or you could just not use the app?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001809600195 Nada Tosnas

    WHATEVER Google. You have now been deleted :-)

  • http://twitter.com/untitledcatalog Shervin

    Google+ is the one that really burns up your phone. I downloaded Google+ to compare it’s “Hangout” video calling to FaceTime. This is the first time ever that I noticed the phone is getting really hot and battery getting really low! So it might be that in certain instances, These two Google Apps won’t use so much batter and while using some other “taxing” functions, they just eat it up. By the way FaceTime was way superior in quality all around: video & audio!

    • Sahil

      Try playing clash of clans.. The phone burns and ur u wouldn’t know when did ur battery drain out

  • http://twitter.com/pharaohdactyl Stephan

    I had a strange experience with it. I turned off Location Reporting, but it still SLAMMED my battery life in the first day. Normally I get through a workday with at least 70% or more battery left. Yesterday I was at 40% by 1pm! I left it in standby and by 2pm it was down to 29%. Needless to say, I turned off Google Now completely and left it that way.

  • Guest

    Seems like a case of bad coding/optimisation (spellcheck plz). Shouldnt drain the battery like described in the comments

    • http://twitter.com/x_rus_x Vitaliy Anonymous

      optimization (every browser has a spell checker…maybe except IE)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000505454514 Kevin Paterson

      That’s the correct spelling if you’re not American.

  • Manuel Angel

    I say bs on this. I didn’t know anything about this but updated my Google Search app, and I notice that my phones battery has been dying really quickly as of late. Then I read the article and deleted the app; the battery life is good again. Hmmm.

  • dpacemaker

    My phone hasn’t been affected at all. I still have location on, and it has yet to hurt my battery life. I’m still getting a little over 2hrs of talk time and my normal app and safari usage and only needing to charge every other day. It may be tweaks people have installed, they might not mesh well with Google Now. That’s just my experience.

  • Winski

    Just do yourself a huge favor…. DON’T INSTALL IT….. We got enough wasting our time… One more is too much…

  • iOops

    Why is this app only affecting iOS, and not Android devices? Malingering would be my first though on the situation – people are watching their battery life closely now that they read these articles and noticing an issue, but the issue was always there, and not really caused by the app in question.

    My iDevice(s) and sDevice(s) do not experience any issues with this app.

    • http://www.trajano.net/ Archimedes Trajano

      because on Android devices we have larger batteries and root apps like greenify to compensate.

  • http://twitter.com/blairgeiger Blair

    not sure if this means anything, but I also noticed my location services indicator has been constantly on since I started using google now. and today I noticed even though the app wasn’t open, the indicator light under it stayed on forever (I have ActiveDock). However, I didn’t notice a change in battery life. Mine is still going pretty strong after 1.5 years of use

  • Dmaez

    I know my battery seem to drain fairly fast when I ha it installed however when I uninstalled it went back to normal. Though I am not ruling out it could have been something else just my feedback

  • Gorgonphone

    google now suucks and is all hype like those annoying cha heads..