There's no such thing as free -- especially with smartphone apps, according to a new study.
"Ads in 'free' apps drain your phone's battery faster, cause it to run slower, and use more data," said William Halfond, co-corresponding author of the study, which will be presented at the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE) in Italy in May. Halfond collaborated with researchers at USC, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and Queen's University in Canada.
When compared to apps without ads, the researchers found that:
"In absolute terms, this is very low, but in the crowded and competitive world of apps it's a huge difference," Halfond said. "It can make the difference between your app getting downloaded or going unnoticed."
Halfond hopes app developers will take note of this study. "Right now, they're kind of clueless," he said.
Halfond's co-corresponding author on the study is Meiyappan Nagappan of RIT. To complete the research, they worked with Stuart Mcilroy of Queen's University and Jiaping Gui of USC.
The team compared 21 top apps from the past year -- culled from a list of 10,750 that had been in the top 400 of each of Google Play's 30 categories from January to August of last year -- then measured their effect on phones using analysis tools loaded onto a Samsung Galaxy SII smartphone.
Next, Halfond said he hopes to create models that will allow app developers to predict how well their products will be received by the public -- both with and without ads.
"Apps are the future of software," he said. "The thought that we'll all be continuing to consume software on desktops is passé."
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