Users say the app records long periods of background activity, even when settings such as background refresh are disabled.
One user, product developer Matt Galligan, wrote that the Facebook app was not “sleeping properly when I hit the home button” and that the “problem may not be an easy fix for Facebook and the way their app is built”.
Analysis of the Facebook app by iOS developer Jonathan Zdziarski indicated that Facebook’s location tracking of users could be at least partially to blame for the battery drain.
“It *looks* like if you have location sharing enabled for Facebook, that’s part of what it is doing in the background to kill your battery”, he tweeted, adding that the “ridiculous amount of analytics alone in Facebook should be enough to drain your battery, never mind location sharing”.
Facebook said it had heard reports of some people experiencing battery issues with its iOS app. “We’re looking into this and hope to have a fix in place soon,” it added.
The Facebook iPhone app logs a user’s precise location to create a history of places visited and for various location services built into the Facebook app and its sister apps including Facebook Messenger and Instagram.
Turning off background refresh within the Facebook app settings will not disable location tracking, as it governs the downloading of content in the background only. But users can block access to location services for Facebook either entirely or set it to be allowed only when the app is actively being used.
Reddit user Han-ChewieSexyFanfic said the Facebook app consumed 20% of an iPhone 5S’s battery, even when location services and background app refresh settings were disabled.
Fellow Reddit users simplycass and Sport6 accused Facebook of using a background process built into iOS that allows internet-based phone calls requires the voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) string to do much more.
“VoIP apps like Skype or something similar are allowed to run in the background without the background refresh enabled, because how else would you receive calls without the app open?” said Sport6, adding that “Facebook uses this to run all of its traffic through, not just the Facebook calls included in the app”.
A Facebook spokesperson said location tracking was not the cause of the battery drain, telling Motherboard that the issue “is not caused by improper background location collection”.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has been blamed for unnecessarily draining iPhone users’ battery life. The app was revealed to be the cause of many people’s battery woes in 2014, when it was discovered to be constantly using both background refresh and location services.
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