Facebook is aware the iOS app is draining battery life and they’re working on a fix

BY Evan Selleck

Published 15 Oct 2015

Facebook HQ logo

One of the features tied to iOS 9 is the ability to look at each app’s impact on an iOS device’s battery. Unfortunately for Facebook, that has led many to indicate a huge problem.

The issues with Facebook’s iOS app draining battery have been a widespread one, with several different pieces covering the issue. That includes from Circa’s co-founder Matt Galligan, which denounces the Facebook iOS app as being “ridiculous” as he notes that it has taken 15% of his battery life over the course of seven days, despite the fact that he’s had Background App Refresh disabled for the app:

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

Nick Heer also blogged about the situation as well, and even went a bit further than Galligan, stating that Facebook’s iOS app is actually “user hostile,” and states that one way to improve battery life with the iOS Facebook app is to actually turn Background App Refresh on, instead of disabling it as many people have been doing. Of course, the app is still draining significant amount of battery life, whether the app refresh setting is turned on or 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).”

Facebook iOS app battery drain

Heer’s recommendation to download Paper is a quick fix, while still providing access to Facebook’s News Feed and other features, even as he does point out that it is supposed to be available in the United States only. There is a workaround for that, though, if you are out of the U.S. and you want to try Paper, which you can find here.

Diving into the problem recently was Federico Viticci of MacStories. He stipulates in his own write-up that Facebook is actually running silent audio in the background, without needing to actually refresh with the app setting turned on. This is done by videos in the app auto playing, as many users probably do not have this feature turned off:

“Because, by default, videos on Facebook auto-play on both Wi-Fi and Cellular and few people ever bother to turn it off, that means there’s a high chance the Facebook app will always find a way to play a video, keep audio in the background, and consume energy to perform background tasks.”

To test this theory, TechCrunch ran some 24-hour period tests, one with the Facebook’s auto play videos option turned on, and another with the option turned off. The results showed that there wasn’t a huge difference in the percentage of battery life that the iOS app used up, with both results showing 7% after 24 hours. So while not conclusive, it does at least indicate that Facebook’s iOS app is indeed using up a sizable amount of battery no matter how often it is actually being used:

“With background app refresh and autoplay videos disabled the Facebook iOS app used 7 per cent of battery resource on his iPhone 6s over a 24 hour period. Having autoplay videos enabled appeared to make little difference — with the same 7 per cent drain over another 24 hour period. So not conclusive on whether autoplay videos is part of the problem. But, as regards background battery drain, still showing the Facebook app to be rather too thirsty vs how much it’s actually being used.”

Facebook did provide a statement to TechCrunch, stating that they are indeed aware of the battery drain issue and that a fix is planned:

“We have heard reports of some people experiencing battery issues with our iOS app. We’re looking into this and hope to have a fix in place soon.”

However, the social networking giant isn’t commenting on any of the theories as to why it’s happening.

There are different ways to conserve battery life with iOS 9, which might be good to catch up on if you plan on using the Facebook app before the company can release a fix. You can find those here.

This editor recently switched away from the aforementioned Paper app from Facebook and started using the “stock” Facebook app. After checking up on my battery usage over the last 24 hours and 4 days, I was shown that Facebook has used 3% of my battery in 24 hours (6 minutes on screen — 5 minutes in the background), and 4% in the last four days (23 minutes on screen — 35 minutes in the background). App Background Refresh is currently activated as well. One would consider that probably generally reasonable, but it also showcases that this editor doesn’t use Facebook all that much, either.

Have you noticed any significant battery drain while using the Facebook app?

[via Medium; pxlnv; TechCrunch; MacStories]