Earlier in the week, Google finally released the eagerly anticipated Google Now feature for iPhone and iPad to take on Siri, Apple’s personal assistant feature.
The Google Now feature has received positive reviews so far, however there have been concerns raised about the impact it can have on battery life as many users have noticed the Location Services icon in the status bar after they updated to the latest version of Google Search app.
The concern was that Google Now was frequently using GPS, which could have a major impact on iPhone’s battery life.
However, Google has clarified in the support article that they’ve implemented the feature in such a way that there is minimal impact on battery life.
The support article first explains why Google Now uses Location Services:
You may notice the Location Services icon in your status bar after you start using Google Now. It appears because Google Search sometimes reports your location even when you’re not actively using the app. Google Now uses these reports to give you traffic alerts and other updates. Along with Location Services, Google Now uses Location Reporting to get precise location information.
The note then goes on to clarify that it shouldn’t have an impact on battery life:
Since Location Reporting has been optimized to use GPS as infrequently as possible, there should be minimal impact on your battery life.
Krisztina from Google has provided clarifications on why this should have minimal impact on battery life in the comments. It is quite possible that the drain in battery life that you’re observing is due to some other app:
Many apps that keep the icon on actually do drain the phone’s battery because they require very accurate location. (For example, some apps have to run your GPS all the time during navigation to keep you from missing your turn.) This update to the Google Search app is built very differently: it uses cell towers and wifi hot spots for much lower battery impact.
We extensively tested Google Now on iOS for months and didn’t see reports of significant battery impact — we would encourage you to try it in the Google Search app for a few days and we don’t expect you to see significant impact on your battery.
If you’ve still noticed an impact on battery life after installing Google Search 3.0.0 then you can disable location reporting for Google Now in the Search app and location services in iOS. However, it would mean that certain kinds of information such as commute traffic, may be limited or won’t show up at all.
If you’re seeing a problem, then tap on the gear icon on the Home screen of the Google Search app, then tap on the Feedback to report the issue so Google can investigate it.
Alternatively, you can disable Location Reporting in Google Search app by following these steps.
- In the Google Search app on the Home screen, tap the gear icon .
- Tap Google Now.
- Tap Privacy.
- Turn the Location Reporting setting to OFF.
You can disable Location Services by following these simple steps:
- Tap the Settings icon on the Home screen.
- Go to Privacy.
- Go to Location Services.
- Turn the Location Services setting at the top to OFF.
- Scroll down to the item for Google, and set it OFF.
Note disabling Location Services for Google in iOS will also impact the quality of Google search results.
Let us know what you think of the Google Now feature in the comments. Is it having a major impact on battery life?