And, I found some software that does neat stuff like this. I actually installed a bunch of location related software in the last few days and well... it's early. Some of the apps more or less don't work at all, and the rest are still a bit too hard to understand or use every day, or for less nerdy folks. But the future is clear and it'll be great soon enough. I have a half-dozen personal use cases for location based alarms.
A few days later I started noticing the N95s battery wouldn't last a whole day. Besides all the installing and playing , I have been doing a lot of testing for [a piece of client software] that I designed, so it was not surprising to burn down the battery. But then there was a weekend and it kept doing it.
Eventually, it occurred to me that it was one of those GPS items. I finally discovered how to turn off the always-on location awareness in the background, and it's fine. Yup, the GPS uses 3x as much power as usual.
Now, you could go ahead and take this to mean that it's not a good idea after all to run awareness software, or to run anything in the background (so the iPhone is right!), but I say these are totally surmountable instead, and addressing it head on is the only way to improve things. There are actually two problems, which both need (and probably already have) solutions:
- Awareness I installed them and am pretty aware of this technology, and it took me several days to figure out why my battery was dying. The problem is that there is no way to tell what is running in the background. The paradigm of always-on services is not different from current desktops, but the battery-powered, restricted processor and memory environment makes this more important on mobiles. The S60s running-apps list is something I have learned to rely on; I want to see a similar list of background processes, and a single way to turn them off, both for now, and forever.
- Power management Newer dedicated GPS devices can last almost 24 hours of on time. Sure, it has no radio and data processing, but they are using less exciting batteries, a large screen and can do this while running several "applications" at once (not to mention they get better reception than phones, and are spending a lot more power on DSP and other signal eeking). Running GPS-centric nav software will run down my phone in around 4 hours. Clearly there's a problem here of power management.
Now, the awareness products I was using went about twice as long, so there's something to be said for background process efficiency, but i suspect additional cheats would be easy. What about using tower ID (and maybe accelerometers) and only go turn on the GPS when the user is overtly moving? Then only poll the GPS for position only as needed. If nowhere near a location with an alarm, and moving slowly, check every minute or two. Faster and closer, check more often.
I can't wait to see even more stuff like this, and hope no one else gets scared off by all these challenges.