Track Time

Combating Data and Battery Drain in the Age of the Smartphone

Myranda Mondry | August 13, 2018
the ups and downs of gps in the workplace
“We know everything, but we’re not a lick smarter! We just know. You don’t know something? Wait two seconds, you will know … The time between knowing and not knowing is so brief — knowing feels exactly like not knowing … There was a time, if you didn’t know where Tom Petty was from, you just didn’t know!”In just one anecdote, comedian Pete Holmes perfectly summarizes what it’s like to live in the age of the smartphone. Gone are the days of wondering where Tom Petty was born. The answer to virtually any question is available anytime, anywhere — at your fingertips. The age of the smartphone is an age defined by instant gratification and unlimited information.… But not necessarily unlimited data plans.  

The ups and downs of GPS in the workplace

In July 2018, TSheets surveyed 1,585 employees throughout the U.S. to ask them about their experience with GPS tracking in the workplace.* When it comes to using GPS-enabled apps, users reported a variety of positive and negative experiences. addressing data and battery use concernsAlmost half of employees (45 percent) who use GPS tracking apps for work sometimes experience battery drain. And 38 percent sometimes experience data drain. Another 14 percent and 20 percent report never experiencing either, respectively.Despite the occasional rise in data usage and dip in battery life, 38 percent of employees always feel safer with GPS tracking, perhaps knowing they can be located in the event of an emergency. As for more lucrative benefits, over half of employees (56 percent) always feel they’re being paid exactly what they’re owed when GPS tracking can prove when and where they’re working. When TSheets conducted a similar GPS survey two years ago, employees were most concerned with the effects an employer-required app would have on data and battery drain. But those workplace apps (like TSheets) may not be the apps most responsible for draining those valuable juices. 

How GPS-enabled apps affect your smartphone’s data and battery life

It’s true. Apps that perform regular background updates, track your phone’s location, or pull data points consistently can be the culprit when it comes to your data overages or dwindling battery power. But when it comes to the data and battery usage of your smartphone, it’s not quite so black and white. Things like the age of your smartphone, your Wi-Fi connection, how often you use the app, and the app’s specific settings can impact the amount of data and battery power your phone consumes.  And while you might be tempted to blame that GPS-enabled app your boss insisted you install, more commonly used apps like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are more likely the cause of the drain. According to Wirefly, regular Facebook browsing uses up to 1.5MB of data each minute. That number jumps to 2.6MB per minute if you’re watching videos on Facebook while you scroll. Just 15 minutes of casual Facebook scrolling adds up to about 30MB of data — and the average Facebook user spends about 50 minutes each day doing just that. 

How does TSheets stack up? We put it to the test.

The majority (95 percent) of TSheets mobile app users use less than 30MB of data each month.**The average user only uses about 5MB of data each month through the TSheets app — and that’s with GPS tracking turned on.** To put that into perspective, an entire month of using TSheets is equal to just two minutes of scrolling through Facebook videos. But that's not all we know.In December 2017, TSheets Mobile Team Lead, Drake Gebhart, hopped in the car and drove over 2,000 miles across the country — and he tracked his time (and location) with TSheets every step of the way. That’s over 34 hours of GPS location tracking through TSheets. And yet, TSheets consistently used less battery power than Drake’s other commonly used apps like Messages, Mail, and Maps. tsheets gps data use But you don’t have to take our word for it. If you’ve got an iPhone or Android, your smartphone can tell you exactly how much data and battery power your apps are using (driving cross country not required). how to see data use by app iphone android At TSheets, we’re always working on mobile app improvements intended to keep your batteries healthy, your employees happy, and your data usage low. If you’re thinking about implementing a GPS-enabled app in your workplace, we’ve got some tips to help you ease employee concerns about data and battery drain. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out our new features page to stay up to date on the latest and greatest features and improvements to TSheets.  
*In July 2018, TSheets commissioned an independent survey of 1,585 U.S. employees about their experience with GPS tracking in the workplace.
**Based on TSheets customer mobile data usage collected from Feb. 1 – April 30, 2018.
A little about Myranda Mondry

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