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App Smart

Limit your battery angst with battery life apps

Battery Life Pro All-in-One.

Battery Life Pro All-in-One.

As you jet off on a winter vacation or a holiday-season trip to see family, chances are that you’ll face a 21st-century problem: mobile device battery angst. It’s a never-ending itch at the back of your thoughts. Though we all love to use our smartphones to stave off boredom or to navigate a new city, every moment of use eats precious battery time. And, particularly during a journey, you never know when you will find power next. Thanks to my job, I experience more battery angst than most people, so I have tried some battery life apps. You may, too. But unlike with other types of apps, you need to be wary.

Battery Life Pro All-in-One

Apple’s tight control of iOS means battery apps on the App Store, even popular ones like Battery Life Pro All-in-One (free on iTunes), cannot automatically control an iPhone or iPad’s real-time battery consumption.

Continue reading below

This is because of Apple’s own systems for protecting battery life and app security. That said, there are some supposed best practices you can follow to keep your iDevices battery-healthy. And there are ways you can manually adjust your phone.

Battery Doctor Pro

Battery Doctor Pro is one of the best-designed battery advice apps ($1 on iTunes). Its main page has a graph showing current battery charge and a grid of icons that activate sub-menus.

The “status” sub-menu lists estimates of how much talk time your battery offers at that moment, how much video playback, and so on. The “inspection” sub-menu offers a list of actions to help extend battery life — like disabling Wi-Fi. Some of these actions are accompanied with tips on how to carry them out. These are the really useful parts of the app, which teach you about your phone.

Another useful feature is the “maintain” sub-menu, which guides you through a process said to increase the performance of lithium batteries. This involves letting the battery run down to less than 20 percent charge, then charging it to 100 percent and letting it remain on charge for a while.

Battery Doctor Pro has a long list of other options, like a selection of themes — monitoring the device, keeping track of charges — but really­ these are just useless frills. For example, it may be interesting to use the “monitor” to see what code your phone is running, but it will not be of immediate use in extending battery life.

Easy Battery Saver

This free application is another good battery app.

Its best feature is its main dashboard, which reports on current battery status and allows one-tap access to turn off or adjust Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, mobile ­data, and screen brightness.

Like 2X Battery, this app has different power-saving modes that try to minimize power-gulping activities like getting access to wireless networks.

The app also shows graphically which apps seem to be using the most power. This data may prompt you to turn off an especially power-hungry app that you may have forgotten is running, like a live wallpaper app.

The problem with these apps is that the next time you pick up your Android device, you might find you have turned off the very function you need.

For example, you may have selected low screen brightness to save battery life, but suddenly find that you need to read the screen in a brightly lighted room.

Thus you may have to jump in and out of your battery saver apps to adjust their settings.

My advice would be to concentrate on free versions of these different apps on iOS or Android.

Try them for a while to see if they help, or at least teach you good habits.

But do not panic about battery apps; you bought your phone to use it, after all.

Hiawatha Bray is not writing today.
Kit Eaton writes on technology for
The New York Times.
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