UT Researchers Develop New Tool to Improve Cellphone Battery Life

Tyler Goodwyn

“GreenWeb,” a new system developed by UT engineers, improves cell phone battery life by making apps and websites more efficient.

Vijay Reddi, UT electrical and computer engineering assistant professor, and Yuhao Zhu, electrical and computer engineering graduate student, worked together to develop this system, which modifies the programming code of websites and applications to allow people to use their phones for longer periods of time.

Website and application developers can use “GreenWeb” to edit their programming codes while they are being written. The team also designed “GreenWeb” to be able to look at existing websites and application codes and make them more energy efficient.

Programming code can be in written various ways. “GreenWeb” assesses what the developer is trying to write or has already written, and supplies specific lines of code that use less power.

“It’s no longer about fancy features on internet browsers, it’s about how much power [apps and websites] save while you’re browsing the internet,” Reddi said.

Zhu said that when the project started in 2011 most developers were focused on cellular performance. He said that the team knew power consumption would become a large issue with cellphones.

“Many cell phone users will actually delete apps that take up too much battery,” Zhu said.

Reddi said that a large amount of coding language focuses on more efficient battery usage.

“The ultimate goal is how do we make the web as a whole more aware of energy use — the language itself that developers use needs to be more aware of battery use,” Reddi said.

The framework for “GreenWeb” is available at WattWiseWeb.org. Reddi said that improving battery consumption depends on the efforts of internet browsers and applications working with developers.

The team tested their system by inputting “GreenWeb” into Google Chrome. Afterwards, the Android operating system experienced 30 to 66 percent battery increase. Zhu said that cellphone users spend almost two-thirds of their time browsing the web, so even 20 to 40 percent battery life improvement would be noticeable.

Zhu said that Apple users can still benefit from “GreenWeb” too. “GreenWeb” works by modifying code within internet browsers, meaning it works regardless of whichever operating system the cell phone uses. This capability allows developers who write code on any operating system to collaborate and work towards improving battery life.

“It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Reddi said. “We’re starting to understand how we make the web energy efficient, but there is still a huge amount of work to be done and it requires the whole community to embrace it.”