Facebook has recently received a number of reports that its mobile app was draining the batteries of iPhones much faster than it should. An investigation into the issue discovered that the app was running in the background for twice as long as it was active on the screen. Facebook released a statement saying that it was aware of the battery issues and was working to solve the problem.
Some speculated that the problem was caused by incessant location tracking by the app. GPS tracking running in the background on a mobile device can dramatically decrease battery life. Facebook engineer Ari Grant released a note stressing that GPS tracking was not the culprit. The note stated, “Facebook doesn’t run GPS in the background unless you give us permission by turning on optional features that require this.”
Facebook says two issues were causing its app to run excessively in the background. The first issue was CPU spin. The CPU spin caused repeated processing that resulted in the app using more battery than intended. The second issue was audio running silently in the background. The audio continued running after a user has finished watching a video, even though the user couldn’t hear anything.
Those features constantly running dramatically shortened the battery life of iPhones. The update to the Facebook app that fixes both issues is now available for all iOS devices. Similar problems have not been reported affecting devices that run on the Android mobile operating system.
Battery life, data usage, and load times are all valuable resources to mobile customers. Fewer people are able to access unlimited data plans and the ones that are available are getting more expensive. Bugs that cause issues in any of these three areas should be the highest priority for a company if they want users to continue using their app.
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