Why is Facebook killing iPhone battery life?

Facebook is one of the world's most popular smartphone apps so why, just why, is the Facebook app devouring iPhone battery life?

Why is Facebook killing iPhone battery life?

Why?

You see, if you use the Facebook app on your iPhone then you may be experiencing low battery life -- and if you disable Location Services (Settings>Privacy>Location Services) and Background App Refresh (Settings>General>Background App Refresh) on your device for the Facebook app you may see significant battery life gains.

From Overthought.org:

"I decided to run the app Instruments from Xcode, Apple's developer tool, in order to see what the problem was. Basically, Instruments acts as an Activity Monitor for your iPhone, allowing developers (or nerds like me) to see every process currently running and how much memory and processing power each app is using in real-time.

"During this testing, Facebook kept jumping up on the process list even though I wasn't using it. So I tried disabling Location Services and Background App Refresh for Facebook, and you'll never guess what happened: my battery percentage increased. It jumped from 12 percent to 17 percent. Crazy. I've never seen that happen before on an iPhone."

This claim isn’t unique.

German iOS developer Sebastian Düvel last year claimed the Facebook app flickers between active and inactive states all day, draining battery life as it did.

Overthought.org claims to have identified battery life impact through use of Facebook on multiple Apple devices.

Facebook's big plan

So why is this happening? I think it could be something to do with this: 

Facebook is known to be attempting to push forward plans to put its own calling services on top of every device. "Apps that can make or receive calls, like Skype, Viber, Tango, Whatsapp, and Facebook are able to check for incoming calls without notifying you," writes Overthought.

It is clear Facebook attaches huge importance to its attempt to become the world's biggest communication platform -- why else did it spend all that money on WhatsApp? Why else did it recently add free Wi-Fi calling to Facebook Messenger?

Facebook's previous attempt to put its own software at front and center of the mobile experience with Facebook Home, (which replaced the standard UI on those devices that ran it) failed, but its mobile ambition is undimmed.

Facebook first?

The company's evident agenda is to become the first thing you use when contacting anyone, regardless of platform or device. To achieve this the app needs to constantly monitor for new communications. Facebook hopes to replace the carrier's network for voice and texts, but needs users to be instantly informed of new messages coming in.

"I speculate they are abusing the fact that they have VOIP call features to run in the background more than they should. It would provide a better experience for people using Facebook, sure, but people would never know Facebook was the cause of their battery life issues, and would definitely blame the device or iOS itself," Overthought observes.

You could accuse Facebook of poor app design, but you'd be wrong: the evidence suggests Facebook doesn't care if your iPhone's short of juice, it cares only about replacing your network for voice and text calls. Device battery life is simply collateral damage in that campaign.

A reduction in iPhone performance on your device appears to be seen as a small price to pay in exchange for future business growth for Facebook's shareholders.

How do you feel about that?

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when fresh items are published here first on Computerworld.

FREE Computerworld Insider Guide: IT Certification Study Tips
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies