Facebook Admits to Draining Phone Batteries
Ordinarily, bug fixes are welcomed, but now and then, someone needs blame. In Facebook’s mobile app version, this is the case.
The company has a market capitalization of nearly 300 billion dollars. It would seem that they could get their act together in regards to mobile applications. Ostensibly, that’s what they’ve done, with the notes in their iOS version 42 stating that “continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life.”
The app would run twice as long in the background as it did in the fore when users closed it. Continuous GPS tracking is not just creepy; it’s expensive in terms of battery life. Moreover, for many in the security community, it’s suspicious. Isn’t it true that phones could run just fine without GPS? Users would have to decide to have no map functionality. Isn’t that what they invented dedicated GPS devices for?
In any case, the iOS app isn’t the only Facebook app that uses a lot of battery life. If you’ve been able to install the massive application on your Android device in recent times, you’ll notice your battery life drop quickly. Even if GPS tracking is not on by default, what really is causing this high battery usage? Persistent use of anything, be it data or GPS, is going to draw battery life. The application is closed source, of course, so no one has the chance to audit it besides Facebook engineers.
Android users have long had concerns about the Facebook app, a user writing on an Android forum a couple years ago:
So today I noticed that my battery was draining really fast so I checked Wakelock Detector and saw that Facebook alarm manager had woken my phone up more than 500 times in a few hours. My Facebook notifications are turned off and so is sync. […] I can’t figure out what could be causing this. I use the app a lot so I don’t want to uninstall but it’s really killing my battery.
Reports have it that Android 6.0, dubbed Marshmallow, has serious improvements to battery usage. However, one reviewer says that this is not necessarily the case, and that they had problems with a Nexus 5 updating to the new version of Android. This is due to the upgrade process more than anything, according to the review.
Apps like Facebook that are data heavy and GPS heavy could be even worse. Given that the most important thing about having a smartphone is being able to use it when you need it, it’s ironic that some of the most common ways of using them shorten the amount of time that users can do so.
The current generation of Internet users is hooked on Facebook. Facebook is hooked on their data. Will the future be something like the local hair salon knowing when someone is walking by who recently wrote about needing a haircut? At this point, anything seems possible.
Images from Shutterstock.