Using your own phone for ingogo - what to expect

Using your phone as a mobile dispatcher, turn-by-turn guidance system, fare calculator and WiFi network - in addition to making and receiving calls - is a different use case to what most would consider normal. 

In addition to the tax benefits of being able to claim your phone, mobile data, calls and the cost of any repairs e.t.c. as a business expense (we can help provide you meet the "log book" requirement), you'll notice a few things you may not have paid attention to before.

While lithium-ion battery technology has come a long way in recent years, modern mobile phones (particularly high-performance phones with large screens) are designed to get through the majority of the day on a single charge - provided you use it to make and receive calls, check emails and spend some time on social.

So for some, it's natural to expect similar battery performance when using navigation based apps like Google Maps, Waze and ingogo - or when streaming video content in Facebook or Netflix.

The internet is full of "advice" in forums regarding battery saving, how charging damages your phone and so on.  Most of this advice is great.  If your objective is to maximise your battery life between charges, or to extend the life of your phone by just a bit.  However, when you're using your phone as a tool to generate income, that advice doesn't necessarily apply.

So, while you're welcome to research all of this on your own, we've compiled the following to let you know what to expect when running ingogo (and any other taxi or rideshare app for that matter) on your phone.

 

1. Using GPS (and turn by turn navigation) will consume your battery faster than usual

The ingogo app uses Location Services to dispatch nearby jobs to you directly, to filter out scheduled jobs that you can't make on time and to navigate you to the pickup and destination locations.

The GPS receiver in your phone is enabled when you turn on Location Services.  In most phones, this listens to cell towers and GPS satellites and sometimes WiFi networks to pinpoint your location.

If you're in a poor signal area (without a clear view of the sky), your phone will start consuming more power, searching through all the different satellites looking for a signal.  A 2016 study by computer engineering professors in the UK and Saudi Arabia found that when there was good GPS signal strength a battery depletes by 13%, while a weak signal could cause the battery to drop 38%.

Another factor in power consumption is your speed.  Moving slowly results in fewer changes to the GPS satellites your phone is connected to, while moving at speed results in additional power consumption due to the additional searching for the closest satellite or cell tower.

However, although the GPS receiver can be blamed for some power consumption - it's the combination of high-power activities that occur when navigating that makes the biggest difference.  Apps like Google Maps (and ingogo) not only track your GPS location, they perform complex animations, download cellular data and keep the display enabled so you can get where you need to be.

So while advice that suggests that you turn off apps that track your location will save your battery is correct, I guess the authors didn't have taxi apps in mind.

If you're really running low on battery, but don't want to miss out on job offers - you can run ingogo in the background provided you're not in a job.

But there's an easy solution!  Keep your phone charged using a car charger that matches your manufacturer's specifications.  Keep in mind that all car chargers aren't the same, and you may need a high powered charger if you're constantly using your phone.

The Verge - Why GPS-dependent apps deplete your smartphone battery
Studying the energy consumption in mobile devices

 

2. Using Personal Hotspot (WiFi) will consume your battery faster than usual

For those who aren't familiar with Personal Hotspot, it's a feature of your phone that allows it to share it's cellular data connection with other devices over WiFi.  ingogo uses Personal Hotspot to create a WiFi network on your phone, which the Verifone vx690 payment terminal connects to.

When you enable Personal Hotspot, the WiFi hardware in your phone is turned on - just like when you connect to your WiFi network at home - but instead of connecting to a WiFi network, it's creating one for other devices to connect to. 

Many modern phones already enable the WiFi hardware to improve location accuracy, so strictly speaking enabling Personal Hotspot on it's own isn't a big consumer of power.  However, there's not much point enabling it if there isn't a device connecting to it.  And that results in power consumption.

How much power depends on the amount and frequency of data transmitted across it.  Communication with the Verifone vx690 has been optimised so that it consumes as little power as possible, while still responding quickly when you need it at the conclusion of a journey.

ingogo has opted for WiFi connectivity through to your phone for a really good reason.  By distributing the connectivity of our drivers across all the telecommunications providers we're able to maintain good coverage across the country, with very few black spots.

 

3. You'll need to charge your phone often, or keep it on charge

Due to the power requirements of dispatch and navigation, you'll need to charge your phone more often than usual if you're not a frequent user of Google Maps, Waze or similar navigation apps.

An average ingogo driver should expect 4-5 hours of continued use between charges, with a 30 minute charge (taking the battery back to 80%) usually sufficient to get through a shift.  That's one extra "top up" charge per day.

Most lithium-ion batteries in phones are designed to retain 80% of their original capacity over approximately 500 recharge cycles. 

Apple have detailed information on iPhone Battery and Performance and Lithium-ion batteries, including the impact of heat during use and while charging.

 

4. Your phone will get warm when in use

You may notice a difference in the temperature of your phone while it's in use.  Your phone will heat up when it's performing CPU intensive tasks like continually updating your location and when navigating in turn-by-turn mode. 

It's also normal for your phone to heat up while charging.

ingogo is no different in this case to other navigation based apps like Google Maps.  Any app that requires the display to be turned on, and performs graphically intense activities (games, videos) will result in the phone heating up. 

Using these features in hot conditions or in direct sunlight for an extended period of time can result in the phone's thermal protection sensors to begin regulating its internal temperature.

There's a few things you can do to prevent overheating, particularly in summer when the ambient temperature can be on the upper limit of what many phones are designed for:

  1. Certain cases prevent phones from dissipating heat as they're designed to.  You may need to select a case that allows the phone to cool down.

  2. Position your phone in an area where there is good airflow, particularly when charging.

  3. Don't leave your phone in direct sunlight, or in the car.  Temperatures can easily exceed the manufacturer's maximum threshold (varies by manufacturer but generally between -10 and 45 deg celsius).