After this year’s South By Southwest festival, Alexia Tsotsis wrote that the breakout star was Mophie, the case that extends the battery life of smartphones.One of the reasons Mophie was a break out star was because Highlight, an always-on location based application was killing the battery life of everyone’s phone. (Highlight was supposed to be the breakout star since everyone was using it to see where everyone else was hanging out.)
This is a problem with location based apps. To really make them shine, they should operate in the background, constantly updating your location. To do that, they would have to constantly ping network connections, killing your battery and leading you to turn them off.
Skyhook Wireless, a company that specialises in location, says it has a solution to this battery problem.
CEO Ted Morgan didn’t want to tell us too many details about how Skyhook is doing it, but he said, “In general we take advantage of what the phone is doing itself.”
He added that Skyhook’s system grabs your location data for 5-10 miles around you, then stores it on your phone. “As long as you stay in that area, we don’t have to go to a server,” says Morgan. “It’s all on the device without network or server, which saves a ton of battery life.”
Unfortunately, this feature can only be used on Android apps using Skyhook’s location services. Apple blocks this stuff on the iPhone, says Morgan.
Still, this is great for Android developers. Morgan talked about apps that can configure your phone for different modes of use depending on where you are. So, if you walk into work, the ringer can automatically silence. When you get home, it can turn on.
You can only do nifty automated tasks like that with location services on in the background. But no wants it if the battery is getting killed.
And, obviously, the real goldmine from a service like this is that we might FINALLY realise one of the longest talked about mobile advertising dreams of all time: The mythical Starbucks advertisement popping up on our phone when we’re walking down the street.
If the battery can hold up, we might be able to save a buck on our coffee.