Facebook Fixes iOS Battery Drain Issues, Here’s What Was Wrong

Our smartphones can do a lot of great things. They can connect us to all of the world’s information at the tap of a finger. They can capture our memories with the snap of a tiny, built-in camera. Despite all this, however, they still can’t really last more than a day of solid use.

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Facebook is trying to make its app a little less hard on our batteries, having recently released a software update that should fix many of the battery issues users are experiencing.

The company described the issues in a Facebook post by Facebook Engineering Manager Ari Grant, who said that the company had made a number of key changes to fix those issues. The first issue that the team found was what is called a “CPU Spin.”

“A CPU spin is like a child in a car asking, ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?’ with the question not resulting in any progress to reaching the destination,” said Grant in the Facebook post. “This repeated processing causes our app to use more battery than intended. The version released today has some improvements that should start making this better.”

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The second issue that Facebook found involved how the app handles audio. Basically, the team found that if a user leaves the Facebook app halfway through watching a video, the audio session of that video remains open, basically acting as if it was continuing to silently play audio. Grant went on to say that while the app wasn’t really doing anything while open in the background, it was using battery simply by being open.

It’s also important to note that according to Grant the battery issues had nothing to do with the Location History feature in the app or anything related to location. What this means is that while users might be spending plenty of time on Facebook, the service isn’t tracking their every move just yet, especially is users haven’t opted in to location tracking.

The new fixes come a week after heavy complaints by users about the drain on battery life that an updated version of the Facebook had. One user in particular, Matt Galligan, who is the co-founder of a now-dead news aggregator called Circa, said that Facebook was the biggest offender of battery drain on his device.

The app was reportedly sucking up as much as 15 percent of his battery life, even when he disabled background app refresh, meaning that Facebook was not able to refresh when he wasn’t using the app. Safari, by comparison, used up 12 percent, with Messages taking up 6 percent.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways users can preserve battery life other than updating to version 42 of the Facebook iOS app. For example, users could switch on “Low Power Mode” from their Settings app. In fact, according to Apple, this new setting could help users get as much as three extra hours from their iPhone. Of course, it’s important to note that when Low Power Mode is on, things like the new Hey Siri feature, mail fetch, background app refresh, and automatic download will be turned off. Some visual effects will also not show.

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Another way to significantly decrease battery drain is to reduce the brightness of your phone’s display. Your iPhone’s display is a pretty intense part of the device, packing in a huge number of pixels, each of which requires power. You can quickly turn down your display brightness by heading to the Control Center, which is accessible by swiping up from the bottom of the display. You can also head to Settings and turn off Auto-Brightness, which turns the display brightness up or down based on how much ambient light is present in the room.

Another thing that you could do is turn on Auto-Lock, which will automatically lock your phone, and shut off the display, after a set amount of time. This again goes back to how much power a phone display uses up. To turn it on, and save your battery life, simply head to Settings, General, then tap Auto-Lock.

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