Facebook has been killing your iPhone — promises a fix

23 Oct 2015

Facebook has admitted its app has been the root cause of battery problems on iOS devices and today will release an update to resolve it.

If, like me, you are trying to eke as much battery life out of an ageing Apple iPhone as possible, then Facebook’s iOS app hasn’t been helping matters much. A CPU spin in the code is the culprit and Facebook will release an update to resolve the matter today (23 October).

Charging an iPhone 5 twice a day is bad enough, but all those updates and videos you’ve been enjoying in the Facebook app are adding to your troubles, according to Facebook itself.

Facebook engineering manager Ari Grant said that Facebook had heard of people experiencing battery issues with the Facebook iOS app and has identified improvements that will come with the latest version of the app today.

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

“The first issue we found was a ‘CPU spin’ in our network code,” Grant said.

“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. 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.

“The second issue is with how we manage audio sessions. If you leave the Facebook app after watching a video, the audio session sometimes stays open as if the app was playing audio silently. 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. The app isn’t actually doing anything while awake in the background, but it does use more battery simply by being awake. Our fixes will solve this audio issue and remove background audio completely.”

Grant said that the battery issues have nothing to do with the optional Location History as many people had thought.

“We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused. We are committed to continuing to improve the battery usage of our app and you should see improvements in the version released today,” Grant said.

iPhone battery image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years