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Why is Google Services Draining So Much Battery on Android?

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Google Services shows up on Android’s Battery statistics screen as one of the many things draining your battery. It can sometimes drain an excessive amount of battery power, but you can solve this problem.

“Google Play Services” used to appear on Android’s battery screen as its own entry, and it was a big battery hog for some people. Google Play Services is now just one part of the Google Services app.

Check What’s Draining Your Battery

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Android shows which apps and system services are using the most battery power — just open the Settings app and tap Battery to view this information. The information here is usually self-explanatory. For example, you’ll probably find “Screen” near the top — this is the amount of battery power used by your device’s display and its backlight. You can reduce the screen’s battery usage by turning down your display brightness or turning on your screen less.

Individual apps will also appear here, so you can see exactly which apps are using battery power. Apps you actively use will probably appear near the top. Read our guide to saving battery power on Android for more information.

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What is Google Services Doing?

The “Google Services” entry in the list here is a bit more confusing. This entry includes all of Google’s services. You can see exactly what Google Services includes by tapping it. Here’s what it shows on an Android 4.4.4 device:

  • Google Account Manager: Little information is available on exactly what this service does, but it seems to handle syncing for Google account data, including email and other related things.
  • Google Services Framework: Google Services Framework handles a variety of other communications with Google, including cloud messaging.
  • Google Contacts Sync: Google Contacts Sync syncs your Android contacts back and forth with your Google account’s contacts — you can find these in Gmail or at google.com/contacts. The sync is two-way, so you can modify a contact on your Android device or on the web and your changes will appear in both places.
  • Google Backup Transport: This service allows Android apps to back up their data onto Google’s servers. When you perform a factory reset on an Android device or set up a new one, your app’s data can be restored.
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Make Google Services Use Less Battery

Previously separate entries have been merged under the “Google Services” umbrella on the Battery screen, so it’s now more difficult to know exactly which of these services is draining your battery. But we do have some idea of the problem.

There’s a reason the Google Services screen contains just one button to help you fix battery usage — a “Location” button. When apps want your location, they ask Google Play Services and it wakes up your GPS hardware, calculating your precise location. The GPS radio uses quite a bit of battery power, and all that GPS usage will be pinned on Google Play Services — not the app that requested your GPS location.

To reduce battery usage associated with location services, navigate to Settings > Location and changing the Mode to “Battery saving.” This will prevent Google Play Services from turning on your device’s GPS hardware when apps request your location. You can also entirely disable location tracking features from here if you’re desperate to save battery power. If you need precise location tracking in the future, go back to this screen and enable high-accuracy mode.

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Many different apps use Google Play Services to update your location. The Google Search app — which includes Google Now — frequently queries Google Play Services to get your location so it can display the weather and other location-specific information. Disabling Google Now entirely can save battery power by putting a stop to these location checks.

Open the Google app from your app drawer to access Google Now, tap the menu button at the bottom of the screen, tap Settings, and disable Google Now if you don’t want to use it. You can always re-enable it later. If Google Services stops being a battery hog after you disable Google Now, you’ve found your culprit.

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If Google Services is still draining your battery after you tweak your location settings, something else is going on. One other culprit could be syncing. Try heading to Settings > Data usage, tapping the menu button, and unchecking Auto-sync Data. Android will stop automatically syncing data in the background. For example, you won’t be notified of new emails in your Gmail account. You’ll have to open the Gmail app and perform a manual sync to update the data. If this stops the battery drain, you have an issue with syncing.

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Google Services shouldn’t be the main drain on your battery. It may use quite a bit of your battery if you leave your phone in your pocket and never use it, but you shouldn’t notice it using a lot of battery power in normal use. If it’s still draining your battery, there’s a problem — possibly a bug with Android.

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You may be able to fix the problem by performing a factory reset of your Android device. Visit Settings > Backup & reset > Factory data reset to do this. All the data on your Android phone will be erased, but most of that data should be stored online so you can easily get back up and running again. This is the nuclear option, but we’ve seen reports that it helped people when their devices were stuck in a bad state.

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Do you have any other tips for preventing Google Services from draining your battery? Leave a comment and share any other tricks that worked for you!

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 08/2/14