Facebook Says iPhone Battery Drain Issue Fixed, Sort of

After the Internet went into a tizzy over Facebook's iOS app eating our iPhone batteries and leaving a trail of digital tears in its wake, the company said the fixes it told The Mac Observer were coming are starting to show up. The social network released an update yesterday that addressed an issue where the app's CPU usage took a hit on battery life, and more fixes are on the way.

Facebook says it fixed part of its iPhone battery drain problemFacebook says it fixed part of its iPhone battery drain problem

Facebook users started questioning last week what the app was doing in the background to drain iPhone batteries even when preferences were set to prohibit such activities. The assumption was that the company was intentionally finding ways to sidestep iPhone settings to keep connections with users active.

The Mac Observer reached out to the company to ask about the issue and a 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."

Now Facebook engineering manager Ari Grant has is offering up some more information. He said the company has found a couple issues: a CPU spin, and a problem where audio from videos continues to play after you leave the app. CPU spin, he said, "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."

The CPU spin issue was partially fixed in a Facebook app update that came out yesterday, although you wouldn't know if from the update release notes. Facebook has used the same generic comment as release notes for well over a year, so there isn't any way to tell what's really fixed when an update comes out.

Mr. Grant said there's still some work to do on the CPU spin issue, although after yesterday's update users should see at least a little improvement in battery life. The audio session issue, however, won't be addressed until a future update where the release notes most likely won't tell us anything useful yet again.

"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," he said. "The app isn't actually doing anything while awake in the background, but it does use more battery simply by being awake."

Mr. Grant's comments are in line with the earlier statement we received from Facebook and imply the battery drain issues are related to bugs and not intentional actions. Still, the fact that so many people immediately assumed the company intentionally wasn't honoring our background app usage settings shows how big the trust issue users have with Facebook has become.

Instead of working to see what bugs might be to blame, users and other developers started looking for evidence of how Facebook was secretly tracking us and performing actions we explicitly blocked. Good luck fixing that problem, Facebook.