|Does your favourite app seem to be taking longer to load than it used
to? That may be due to ever-richer graphics and overloaded cellphone
networks, which take their toll on smartphone apps and increase the time
they take to boot and retrieve information from the network on, say,
train times or the weather. A way to make them boot faster, developed at
the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, could mean your app might
one day be ready and waiting for you the moment before you need it.
The team have borrowed a trick from computer science to achieve speedier
loading. Called predictive caching, it involves guessing which software
routines are most likely to be needed for the next stage of a
computerised process, so that the right app is primed to run when called
on, without booting from scratch. The system uses the phone's location
and motion sensors to learn when the user typically runs the app.
Imagine that, as you walk to a railway station each day, you normally
get to a certain street corner and open a train times app to see if the
trains are running to schedule. The software checks the time you usually
do this, senses that you are walking and preloads the app, with the
current train info retrieved by the time you arrive at the corner on
which you normally request it.
In tests, the software cut 6 seconds from the average 20-second boot-up
time for apps on Windows phones - although it gobbled 2% of the battery
per day while doing so.