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Carat promises to polish your smartphone's battery life

UC Berkeley's AMPlab comes up with an innovative, cloud-based app to help those troubled with iOS and Android battery life.

The Carat battery life app uses a cloud network of phones to suggest techniques for better battery life.
UC Berkeley/AMPlab

Tired of the same old battery life drain game? A team of engineers from UC Berkeley's Algorithms, Machines, and People Laboratory has developed an app called Carat that "provides a great deal of information about how energy is being used on your phone," according to the official description.

So how does Carat work? The app runs in the background and monitors the energy consumption of various apps and processes on your smartphone, then sends that information to a data analytics Spark application running on Amazon Web Services. Usual suspects include data-hungry apps, an outdated operating system, Wi-Fi, and GPS.

Carat's cloud solution analyzes several days of usage information and sends you personalized advice on how to improve battery life. UC Berkeley/AMPlab

"These measurements are sent to our servers, which throw them into a big statistical stew and try to infer how devices are using energy and under what circumstances," says the Carat Web site. "The results of these analyses are then sent back to the app, which can give you feedback and actionable advice about how to improve your battery life."

In a brief test, Crave found the app to be useful right off the bat, as it recommended we upgrade our outdated operating system on a jailbroken iPhone 4 (running iOS 5.0.1) to the latest version, which could give an estimated battery boost of 47 minutes and 20 seconds. One must run the app for two days before more useful recommendations start popping up. We'll report more findings in a few days.

Skeptics worrying about privacy should know that Carat sends information about your currently running apps, battery life remaining, memory/CPU utilization, device ID, battery state, phone model and operating system version to UC Berkeley. The app also detects when you move around. Despite the seemingly intrusive data collection, Carat's developers note that they collect the data anonymously to improve the app's usefulness, and they don't use it to personally identify users.