I complained a few months ago about Facebook eating through the charge on my iPhone and explained how you can sleuth out for yourself what's taking the biggest hit on your battery life. I suggested turning off Facebook's background activity, but now it seems like that isn't enough. The app isn't honoring background usage settings and Facebook says it's looking into the problem.
iPhone battery draining too fast? It's probably Facebook
Here's the back story: My iPhone 6 battery was draining noticeably quicker than it should based on my usage, so I looked at my Battery settings to see what was taking more than its fare share of juice. It was Facebook by a long shot and it was mostly background activity, meaning the stuff the app was doing when I wasn't actually using it.
I shut off Facebook's background app refresh and that helped. But here we are with iOS 9, and it's all happening again. This time, however, Facebook is going nuts with background activity even when you explicitly disable it.
It's clear that Facebook's app is doing something in the background, but it isn't clear exactly what that is. Speculation points to content push notifications, VOIP, or audio in the background—or some combination of thise factors. The assumption has been Facebook is intentionally side stepping background usage settings.
Nick Heer at Pixel Envy summed up the general feeling saying,
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.
We know a little about why our iPhone batteries are taking a kick in the pants: the Facebook app isn't playing well with background usage settings. What we don't know is exactly why.
The Mac Observer reached out to Facebook in hopes of getting some more information. A company spokesperson told us, "We have heard reports of some people experiencing battery issues with our iOS app. We're looking into it and hope to have a fix in place soon."
That tells us Facebook is aware there's an issue, and it sounds like it's a bug and not an intentional act to drive up the app's usage data. That's not going to stop people from assuming Facebook had an ulterior motive and is backtracking now, but it does make it clear the company plans to address the issue.
There isn't any word on when to expect an update that fixes the issue, so if you're having Facebook-related battery issues try turning background app refresh back on. Some people are reporting that actually improves battery life.
You can check Facebook's background usage settings by going to Settings > Facebook > Settings > Background App Refresh. Alternately, you can delete the Facebook app and reinstall it after the battery fix update is released.
In the end it doesn't matter if the Facebook app simply has a bug that's causing the battery drain, or if the company intentionally wrote code to work around background usage settings. There's plenty of distrust for Facebook in the tech community, so it'll end up taking one on the chin this time around.