Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Background Data and Battery Usage of Facebook’s iOS App

I’ve been seeing reports over the past month or so that Facebook’s iOS app uses an extraordinary amount of resources when it’s in the background. This is especially true when Background App Refresh is switched off for the app, according to Matt Galligan:

It accounted for 15% of all battery drain.

Despite having background app refresh disabled, because the app isn’t “sleeping” properly when I hit the home button, it continues to drain.

That extraneous background usage, despite not providing any value to me at all, is keeping the app alive 2x longer than my actual usage.

Varying reports peg this as an abuse of VOIP backgrounding, audio backgrounding, or content-available push notifications — or perhaps all three — as a fallback when Background App Refresh is off.

Make no mistake: this is user-hostile. Facebook is actively creating channels to continue refreshing their app in the background when the user has explicitly stated that they do not want it to. Ironically, the best way to reduce the battery and data consumption of the Facebook app in the background is to switch Background App Refresh back on. Better still, remove the Facebook app from your phone, and perhaps replace it with Paper (US store only).