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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries iOS devices
Google has added Google Now to its Google Search app for iOS. This provides local traffic information, weather data and more. Unfortunately, this also keeps GPS on permanently on an iOS device, depleting its battery.

After installing the new Google Search app, I had noticed that my iPhone's Location Services icon was on permanently. I quit all apps that could be using GPS or location services, but it was still visible. I restarted the phone, and it was still visible. It turns out that it was Google Now, and I resolved the issue by deleting the Google Search app.

You can also just turn off Google Now, in the Google Search app's settings. (See this screenshot by Dave Hamilton.) If you want to use Google Now, be aware that it will drain your battery, and remember to turn it off when you don't need it.

I assume Google will update the app soon to fix this, but in the meantime, it's a good idea to be aware of this issue.

Update, June 1: As you can see below in the comments, a Google representative claimed that Google Now has no effect on iOS device battery life. Interestingly, this person posted the exact same content on dozens, perhaps hundreds of websites that were claiming this was in issue. The Loop published an article with a screenshot for a recent update, whose notes discuss improving battery life. But The Loop's Jim Dalrymple, in an update to the post, says he might be wrong.
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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: redfood on May 01, '13 08:03:37AM

Another way to turn it off is to deny the app access to Location Services in the Privacy section of Settings.

I assume Google will update the app soon to fix this...
I wouldn't count on it. From Google's point of view, continually collecting location information and correlating it with searches is Now's purpose.



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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: elmimmo on May 01, '13 12:53:30PM

The setting's name is actually "Location Reporting". By setting it to OFF you will still allow Google to access your location but only while the app is running (and hence, keep using Google Now, albeit purportedly with less convenient cards as Google will know less about you).

Note that this is different from going to iOS's Settings app instead of Google's app settings, and there preventing Google from accessing your location at all.



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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: redfood on May 01, '13 01:55:33PM

By setting it to OFF you will still allow Google to access your location but only while the app is running
I wish this was true but when I set it to off and then quit and restart the google app I get a card that says "Location service is off."

(Unless what you are calling "Location Reporting" is a different setting that I don't know about that allows location services when an application is in the foreground but doesn't allow them when the application is in the background).



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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: redfood on May 01, '13 02:02:17PM

Oh- there is "Location Reporting" inside the privacy section inside the google app. That is great! I was talking about "Location Services" inside the iPhone Settings app.

Google "Location Reporting" is much better. This is the real tip!



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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: sharakan on May 13, '13 06:43:42AM

Odd, I'm not seeing any "Location Reporting" preference inside the Privacy section of the Google Search App's Settings screen. I'm all up to date on my iOS & Google App.

-Eric

P.S. Is it me or are the RSS links all broken? If I click on one (I'm using Google Reader), I get taken to a link that looks like:

http://maint.macworld.com/rsschange.html?i=1cb54cd32f7c1a9b84da674d6d48113a

And get a 404 error.



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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: sharakan on May 15, '13 07:53:48PM

Doh, I needed to enable Google Now first.



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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: Typhoon14 on May 01, '13 08:04:50AM

The location services icon does not necessarily mean an app is using GPS. It can simply be using "coarse" wifi / cell tower-based location, which is almost certainly what Google Now is using - if it was using your GPS constantly, it would completely drain your battery in just a few hours, which I had not heard of happening to anyone (on my phone, I have noticed no increase in battery drain over 24 hours since installing Google Now)

My assumption was this was intentional so that Google Now could provide you with location-based notifications like it does on Android, but as far as I can tell, the app isn't actually doing this (although there is no technical reason it can't), so it may be an oversight, or they may be planning to add background notifications in a future update.

UPDATE: Or, it could be being used simply to learn your movement patterns to provide more relevant cards (as it does on Android). This is a little creepy, but also a key element of what makes Google Now useful…

Edited on May 01, '13 08:06:38AM by Typhoon14



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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: snaab on May 01, '13 08:13:33AM

So do the alternative apps OSITO and Tempo create the same level of rapid battery drainage?



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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: astrosmash on May 01, '13 09:46:23AM

Here's the real tip: if you want to find out which app is currently tracking your location, go to Settings, Privacy, Location Services. You'll see which apps are currently tracking your location, which apps have recently tracked your location, and you'll be able to disable location tracking for specific apps, like Google.

Here's another tip: All companies are required by law to disclose how they collect and use your data. In the Google app, go to Settings, Privacy, and check out Location History and Location Reporting to see why Google is tracking your location all of the time. From there you can also see a summary of the location data Google has already collected from you. You'll probably find that they have been tracking your locations for much longer than Google Now has been around.



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Same as Google Latitude
Authored by: SeanAhern on May 01, '13 10:17:46AM

It would appear that Google has subsumed the background location reporting functionality from Google Latitude into its Google Search app. My battery life is identical now using Google Now as it was when I was using Google Latitude to constantly monitor and report my location.

This is NOT the same as a fine-grained GPS application polling the location. That will kill the battery in a rather short amount of time. The coarse-grained location tracking that Google Now is using still gives me slightly over a day of battery life.



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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: KiwiGraham on May 01, '13 07:28:55PM

When activating Google Now it mentions that it will use WiFi positioning but won't run the GPS constantly and to send a report to Google if you notice extra battery drain. So I'm not so concerned (yet) about that part of it coz they must believe it isn't a big issue.

What annoys me is that with Google Now activated it is always running in the background regardless of whether you kill the Google app and therefore the location services indicator in the top status bar always shows as active. I generally view that icon as meaning GPS is being used by some app that I've forgotten to close. ie. it's an indicator of potential battery drain. If it is always turned on because of Google Now I won't have that visual reminder.



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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: The Eck on May 01, '13 08:54:52PM

It's simple, really: Just say no to anything Google on your iOS devices.



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What about Microsoft Now?
Authored by: gabester on May 02, '13 01:56:02AM

1995 called and wants its platform wars back!

Edited on May 02, '13 01:57:01AM by gabester



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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: KriszrinaRS on May 02, '13 10:10:17AM

Hi there,
I'm with Google and wanted to address this issue:
Reports that Google Now on iOS 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, some apps have to run your GPS all the time during navigation to keep you from missing your turn.) This update to the Google Search app 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.

Best,
Krisztina



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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: neuralstatic on May 07, '13 01:01:08PM

can you get your apps like this and field trip to stop tracking me everywhere i go. i know this is kind of the idea sometimes. but with field trip, you guys have some kind of ios hack that never lets location services stop -- even after force quitting your apps. this is f'd up -- and it does affect users and batteries. please reconsider your 'do no evil' slogan.



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Prevent Google Now from depleting iOS batteries
Authored by: joelseph on May 07, '13 03:19:36PM
Reports that Google Now on iOS drains battery life are incorrect.
That's an interesting phrase. I respect your testing results, but if in the real world, your users have seen something different while using your app, I think it's not quite fair to simply label those reports as "incorrect."

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