Is Angry Birds a battery hog? Which Android apps are capable of eating up significant amounts of data in just 24 hours?
Verizon Wireless wants to answers these and other mobile-app-related questions. Judging from its efforts, the company is doing a good job—but it could do better.
Let’s start with Verizon’s top 20 must-have Android and iOS apps that offer "best in class" experiences. The list is updated at least four times a year, according to Verizon. The wireless carrier’s picks are solid if unsurprising: CNN, Dropbox, eBay, Evernote, Flipboard, Instagram and TripAdvisor made the cut along with a few lesser-knowns, such as 8tracks and Endomondo Sports Tracker.
The list is helpful, but I wish Verizon provided some reasons why these apps made the list. For instance, here’s the description offered for Dropbox: "Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere."
Verizon also ranked dozens of Android apps based on security (for example, does the app read private information without permisson?); battery consumption (does the app suck battery power when it’s open but not in use?); and data usage (how much data does the app send and receive when running but not in use?). An app with a perfect overall rating receives five red circles.
Most of the apps received the top rating, including Angry Birds, Camera ZOOM FX, Instagram, Netflix and Pandora.
Apps that received the lowest rating of 2.5 circles include Hill Climb Racing and Asphalt 7:Heat, both of which were penalized for battery consumption and data usage. This is good to know, but I wish Verizon offered reasons for the low rating in its description of the app. Instead, you get promotional copy from the Google Play Store.
If you really want to know the 411 on Asphalt 7:Heat and its Android ilk, Verizon Wireless maintains a High Risk Android-app watch list. I learned that Asphalt 7:Heat "keeps the device from going to sleep mode. As a result, a device left untouched with the app running will drain the battery about 2.4 times faster than normal."
Jail Escape appears to be the worst offender, which is not surprising given its title: "When running, this app keeps the device from going to sleep mode. As a result, a device left untouched with the app running will drain the battery about 2.8 times faster than normal.” Verizon Wireless goes on to say that Jail Escape "uses a large amount of data while running in the background. A device left untouched with the app running could use as much as 17MB in a 24 hour period, or more than half a gigabyte in 30 day period."
Minor gripes aside, I applaud Verizon Wireless for serving as a resource to the app-using public—something AT&T, Sprint and other competitors don’t seem terribly interested in.