Facebook starting to fix iPhone battery drain issues with latest app update, explains why its happening


Facebook has taken to, shocker, Facebook to explain some of the issues causing significant iPhone battery drain when using its app. The app has received a lot of criticism in the community in recent weeks with users reporting incredibly high levels of background activity time for disproportionally low time with the app actually in use. This included when iPhone users had explicitly turned off Background App Refresh in Settings. Facebook says it has started to fix battery drains issues with the latest version of the app in the App Store, version 42.0.

Ari Grant says there are two main problems with the app as it stands. One of which is a CPU spin state where the app would be instructing the CPU to be constantly doing ‘something’, even if the activity was unnecessary. Hence, the app would be using battery unnecessarily as it was keeping the CPU working without achieving any task for the user.

The other issue is related to improper management of audio sessions. This explains the prolonged background audio sessions. According to the post, if you left the Facebook app whilst watching a video the app would continue audio playback of the paused video. This effectively meant the app was playing silence indefinitely, through the background audio session. Facebook claims the app isn’t doing anything nefarious whilst it is in the state.

The second issue is with how we manage audio sessions. If you leave the Facebook app after watching a video, the audio session sometimes stays open as if the app was playing audio silently. This is similar to when you close a music app and want to keep listening to the music while you do other things, except in this case it was unintentional and nothing kept playing. The app isn’t actually doing anything while awake in the background, but it does use more battery simply by being awake. Our fixes will solve this audio issue and remove background audio completely.

The update released today includes improvements for both of these problems. They are committed to continuing improving battery usage of their app, which will benefit the iPhone platform as a whole — the Facebook app is the #1 most popular app for the phone.

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  1. Bull****. I’m done – uninstalled the FB app on my iPhone. My life is better – lets all do the same.

    • I agree with you totally. Facebook is crazy. I don’t use it. Just speak to people instead of messaging them on Facebook!

      • Greg Golightly - 7 years ago

        that horse is so far out of the barn it no longer even remembers living in it. Your issue is not facebook, it is text communication. I dislike facebook, but for other reasons.
        I personally love the drop in phone conversations for simple things. So much less disruptive and much more nice to those around you in a public place.

    • beyondthetech - 7 years ago

      I’m going back to MySpace!

      • strawbis - 7 years ago

        I’m going back to IRC

  2. fromNY2LA (@onestopnyc) - 7 years ago

    It takes a lot of energy to track everything you do and use it for advertising…

  3. Jake Becker - 7 years ago

    Dude that drain is no joke, can confirm.

    • fistsoffrost123 - 7 years ago

      I find facebook’s “willingness” to fix the issue strange since I’m sure they designed the app to work this way in the first place. They don’t refer to these as bugs.

      It puts a bad taste in my mouth about the app. Since this came out I’ve uninstalled the app and use the web app less often than I used the previous app. Malicious coding like this is souring me from their service.

  4. Paul Andrew Dixon - 7 years ago

    Why would you design an App that is constantly making the CPU work for no reason what so every? Why release an App that keeps things playing in the background when you are not using the app and have background app refresh turned off?

    I would understand if this was their first app and they were still getting to grips with creating an app, but they have been around for quite some time…

    They even separated facebook messenger from the main app to reduce cpu and power usage because messenger refreshes more often… yet the messenger app is ok…

  5. Joel Rodríguez Guillén - 7 years ago

    All it took them was like a year or so.

    • What’s surprising to me is that Apple didn’t yank the app from the store, because disabling background app refresh doesn’t do a damn thing to stop the issue. If you open the app ONCE even for a few seconds and never open it again, your phone’s battery will be entirely drained in one day even while it’s sleeping.

      • Steven Fisher - 7 years ago

        Background app refresh and background audio playing are two entirely different APIs.

        Apple used to reject apps that left background playing open indefinitely. My guess is that they’ve relaxed this or didn’t catch it.

      • I didn’t mention audio and the issue has never had anything to do with audio, background or otherwise.

  6. This issue isn’t new – it’s been around longer than a year. Facebook is kid of the lowest-common-denominator kind of app – even its site. If there’s any engineering talent at Facebook, they must be working on server-based tech, database optimization, load balancing and the like, certainly nothing that is now or has ever been forward facing. The entire web platform and its mobile apps are jokes. A few years ago it would take 3 to 10 people to do all of it, now I’m sure they have hundreds of monkeys burning cycles and dollars with really nothing to show for it. But they have a billion pairs of eyeballs and advertises climbing over themselves to put their products in front of them.

    • Steven Fisher - 7 years ago

      I don’t; think that’s fair at all. Facebook definitely has iOS engineering. By all accounts, they’ve built something quite incredible.

      What they may lack is a taste for good code, or at least sufficient time to bring the app in line with taste. Because what they built probably didn’t have to be be built.

      • It’s a practically feature-less app and infuriatingly crippled compared to the features of accessing the site in a browser. On top of everything it’s buggy as all hell and has been since it was first released and despite receiving updates every 2 weeks.

        Engineering TALENT is missing on everything forward-facing Facebook does, *along with* design talent.

  7. thaboz - 7 years ago

    “Hence, the app would be using battery unnecessarily as it was keeping the CPU working without achieving any task for the user.”

    It does not exclude Facebook achieving tasks 😳

  8. jeamland - 7 years ago

    I completely uninstalled the Facebook app and just use Facebook from safari. All of the functionality (ok, 95%+, but messages works too) and none of this BS.

  9. Gregory Pedurand - 7 years ago

    I have Facebook in my iPhone but don’t background activity and my battery are good life

    • Michael Napier (@NapMan) - 7 years ago

      Me too. I’m not a “heavy” Facebook user but it always shows very little battery usage on my iPhone 6. I wonder why it would affect some people but not all if it’s an actual bug in the code.

      • Steven Fisher - 7 years ago

        Because you have to send it to the background while playing a video to invoke the bug.

  10. Is the Version 42 the newest Version in US? Because in Germany we have Version 45. But there is no Info what has been changed.

  11. seoschooldelhi - 7 years ago

    Nice post.Thanks for sharing

  12. tincan2012 - 7 years ago

    ‘Facebook’ is at risk of becoming the new ‘Flash’.

  13. Eddie Adams - 7 years ago

    If you want to keep Facebook on your iPhone but not the app just add a bookmark from safari to you home screen. That way you still have Facebook and it does not take a toll on your phone. Just something to keep in mind as an alternative.

  14. guacho8 - 7 years ago

    I was experiencing the background issue even when I had that option off in settings, after last nights update I can tell that it was fixed, the app is no longer updating in the background

  15. Brenda Tredway Oliver - 7 years ago

    Why does Apple always get the fixes first?


Avatar for Benjamin Mayo Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.