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Uninstalling Facebook app saves up to 15% of iPhone battery life (theguardian.com)
431 points by gargs on Feb 8, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 233 comments



I uninstalled FB from my phone about a year ago. The main reason was that I didn't want to install Messenger, and was sick of them limiting the app. I discovered a few other things:

- Improved battery life, as the article mentions

- Mobile web is actually much faster than the Android app

- I spent a lot less time looking, getting notified about crap

If you've got the app installed on your phone, I'd encourage you to give uninstalling it a shot.


Went through the same process about 3 or 4 months ago. I was uninstalling from an android phone (so not exactly the same experience) but I was pleasantly surprised by how usable the mobile web app was. Also, how much happier I became when I wasn't killing time looking at inane "content".

If you're at all curious, try uninstalling Facebook from your phone and doing your best not to visit it on your computer for a a few days, maybe a week. It started out (embarassingly, still is) harder than I thought it would be, even though I don't maintain much of a profile on there – it's made me realize exactly how addicting that behavior can be. I do keep the messenger app on my phone so that I can stay in touch with my friends, but in my mind Facebook vs. Messenger are two totally separate products and experiences.


When you do this Facebook starts emailing you more trying to get you to come back: "See what you've missed while you were away!"


It's easy enough to disable all these emails in FB's notification preferences.


> It's easy enough to disable all these emails in FB's notification preferences.

Actually no, I don't think that's even possible. In the notification preferences, it appears you don't get a list of all notifications that you can disable, you only get a list of notifications you've already disabled, so they don't let you be proactive about disabling things.

I just tried clicking the "unsubscribe" link from one of Facebook's "So and so has updated their status. Please, come back, our algorithm misses you!" emails, and that added "Recent friend activity on Facebook" to my list of disabled notifications. Let's hope I still get emails for event invites and tagging notifications. They change stuff all the time, and I remember the last time I looked into this I was afraid I was disabling more than I wanted to, so I went with email filters instead.


I somehow managed to disable all of them before that change happened. I receive no Facebook notifications anymore, and happily look at Facebook ~once every 3 months.


This actually has the effect of encouraging me to stay away


This. Also, the emails taper off after you ignore a few.


BTW, the same author wrote that on Android it saves 20% of battery life: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/01/uninstalli...


News Feed Eradicator: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/news-feed-eradicat...

So you can use messenger without getting sucked into the feed. It's fantastic.


https://www.messenger.com also gives a messenger-app like experience on web, with no non-messenger notifications :D.


When the Messaging app first came out, I installed it. But I also hated how intrusive the app is. I uninstalled it and switched to just using the web interface.

Unfortunately, typing messages in the web interface on Android is absurdly awful. There is a bug such that the last message you sent remains in the text field invisibly and only shows up when you continue typing. So every time I sent a new message, I had to first hold backspace for ~10 seconds to delete the previous message and clean up the textarea. I got so frustrated doing this I switched back to the Messaging app a week ago.


It's life changing being notification-free (only email + text). I used to have my phone loaded to the brim with apps, now I use maybe 3 or 4 apps regularly tops. Hell, I'm even debating going back to a super barebones flip phone.


Comments like this is when I suddenly feel old. :)

I remember a life before the web, let alone smart phones and social networks. For me, buying my first Android phone (HTC G1 - the one with a slide out keyboard) is what changed my life. eg being able to solve an drunken pub debate in real time, or check train times, etc. It was really liberating....at the time.

It's funny because the prospect of being away from home with a flat battery is terrifying to many - and if I'm honest, not too appealing to myself either. Yet I've literally spent half my life without a mobile phone (smart or otherwise) and managed just fine.

It's funny how dependant we can become on technology.



Android version or equivalent?


in development right now, sorry :(


OK, thanks ;-)


I was in that debate too, at the end I chose to go with a two year windows phone...similar results :) , but still i can check the web if i need to.


I didn't have a choice about uninstalling the app on my old android phone. It was a built in app and all I could do was uninstall updates.

I never installed the update that included the referenced version of messenger.

On my new phone, I have never installed the app. I use use the website and it does 90% of what I want to do without the issue of running extra processes in the background on my phone.

I'm waiting for the day that Facebook depricates and/or discontinues the mobile site to force people onto the app.


> I'm waiting for the day that Facebook depricates and/or discontinues the mobile site to force people onto the app.

Messaging doesn't fully work in an Android browser. You might get a real-time notification badge, but my experience is 50/50. There is also an issue that if you do a manual refresh, you still might not get the new message notification. I imagine that there isn't a rush to fix these issues either.


I use Chrome on my Android phone. I haven't experienced any problems with messaging.

I don't want audible notifications. I'll get my messages the next time I check Facebook.

This might not be ideal for everyone but it works for me.


This is my experience almost exactly (iOS user). Since then I've started uninstalling all of my apps that have a reasonable mobile web alternative. I'd held on to them from the days when the mobile web wasn't so great.


It is interesting that many people don't know that most of their apps have perfectly good mobile web apps too. With the advent in web technologies and developers' focus on best practices the web apps have become very responsive. Personally I got tired of downloading and installing and signing up for apps only to find I didn't use them very frequently. Then I saw their web apps and they worked great. Now I don't have 100 apps on my phone. Just one that takes care of going to all those web apps quickly and easily. Full Disclosure: I built that one app, get@ app.


I've been doing exactly this too over the last few months. Safari iOS is so fast now on the iPhone 6s that I find the mobile sites faster than the apps in most cases.


Signing. I uninstalled the FB app 6 months ago and even log out from the web app. Best decision ever.

Basically, I use only messenger.


And if you really want notifications, they can still be enabled via the Google Chrome app when you visit the Facebook website.


Not an iPhone user here - do you mean that the Chrome app on iOS has Web Push notification support?


It doesn't look like it does yet.

http://caniuse.com/#search=Notifications


Shame. I wonder if Google could shim it into Chrome iOS?


They should be able to. Embedded Safari allows you to define JavaScript APIs to interface with your app, and the app can register for push notifications.


I just tried that, apparently it doesn't work for messages, which is the only thing I need from Facebook (for the two people who message me there). I guess I'll just keep relying on the twenty-minute-late email notification for messaging.


Personally, I uninstalled the Facebook app but kept the Messenger app (with disabled chat bubble).

Works good enough for me. I browser Facebook on the browser when needed (never) and use Messenger for chat alerts.

On desktop, I use http://messengerfordesktop.com/ to avoid going on the Facebook website.

I also use custom CSS on the Facebook website to break some of it's linearity. This make it less likely that I will browse mindlessly. Facebook UI is designed as a precise drug and simply changing it a little bit will disrupt that. (I use a red UI, a noisy background, bigger fonts, etc.)


I use pidgin, with the newer facebook plugin - it doesn't look as sexy, but it does almost all I need (except for uploading files), and I have a bunch of other accounts connected. When I need to upload stuff, I just go to https://messenger.com


Use http://messenger.com for Facebook messages. In settings, you can turn on notifications.


But if you switch to the web app from the native app, now Facebook is tracking all your web usage.


> But if you switch to the web app from the native app, now Facebook is tracking all your web usage.

I use this app, which is supposed to run the Facebook mobile site in a separate sandbox from my other browsing.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.danvelazco...


This is the same app I use. No complaints so far.


You can dedicate one browser (say firefox mobile) for FB only and use chrome or Safari for regular web viewing.


So, instead of one app that sandboxes my FB usage, I would be using a different app (a separate browser) to do basically the same. It might work if Firefox is less of a battery hog then FB app.


There's a good alternative to this on Android, namely apps like Tinfoil for Facebook, which are simply convenience webkit wrappers around the Facebook WebView


If you use Firefox Mobile, you can add uBlock Origin to the browser so that it mimics what the desktop browser can do. And remember that you can enable Disconnect rules in uBlock Origin when you're in Advanced mode!


I'm sorry I don't understand how a web app can track ALL your web usage? Wouldn't that apply to using facebook.com on the desktop browser too then?



That's really interesting. The way I understand tracking cookies is that websites the user visits needs to have some snippet from Facebook on them for that snippet to be able to read the cookie and update it right? And since most sites have the Share on facebook button that's potentially how the tracking cookie is picked up by Facebook.


Yup, that's exactly the behaviour.

Also a reason I deleted cookies, history and saved credentials and just use incognito for FB nowadays. It also stops the habitual browsing that gets you hooked.


I only use Facebook from the desktop, and run Facebook.com in a dedicated app via Nativefier. The beauty of that is that this keeps all cookies and tracking completely separate from my main Safari searches. https://github.com/jiahaog/nativefier


Maybe someone could explain - how can mobile web be faster than (semi?) native app?


Because your phone's web browser can include an ad blocker, while the one in the native app has to make all those extra requests?


This is not applicable to majority of mobile web users outside of US (Android devices for example) or non-Safari users (Chrome on iOS).


Android users can get adblockers by sideloading, and Chrome users on iOS are a tiny minority.

The reason why the mobile web version is less sucky on your battery life is because it doesn't get the chance to break out of the browser to monitor your position, play silent audio so that it can stay "active" and push notifications at you, and generally push to the front of the queue.


i did the same thing and was also pleased with the results until the recent change that removed the submit button from the text entry field on comments - now there isnt a way to reply to conversations on facebook.


And about 30% of the users life. No seriously, I wonder how much productivity is gained from using, and how much is wasted, worldwide?


All arguments for and against FB can pretty much be applied to the internet overall. Given the undeniable popularity and usage of FB I think it's pretty clear it's been a net positive on society. (I'm fine with rebuttals; just make sure your argument couldn't also be used to rebut people having access to the internet in general)


> All arguments for and against FB can pretty much be applied to the internet overall.

I like the spirit of this idea, but I don't believe it's correct in this context. Facebook, after all, is a service that bases its experience around togetherness and being "connected" to the people you "care" about. It encourages an all-inclusive behavior from its users, instead of a selectively-inclusive, or even exclusive, behavior.

This is a unique trait of the Facebook service, which much of the web absolutely did not copycat with success until Facebook's IPO. To compare Facebook and its particularly vicious UX which ruthlessly looks to capture the attention spans of the world's lowest-common-denominator, to the overall internet is an insult to people who had better plans for the internet than this.


Yes I think it would fail if you tried to get too literal. But the original thread was the "I wonder how much more productive our lives would or would not be without FB" It was in that broader context that I made my comment.


I, too, was attempting to make the comment in this broader context.

The point I probably failed to elaborate upon adequately is that Facebook's model is all about sucking productivity from individual users and then streamlining this service for technological and industrial innovation. Yes, the latter half of this equation means more "productivity" caused by the output of new jobs in development, tech startups, ads, etc., but at the cost of a total reversal of the values and goals set forth by the original web.


I respect what you're saying and the contrasting views here are good. At the same time, what you're saying reminds me a ton of the ultra (politically) conservative Americans who freak out over changes to a document defining our country set 240 years ago. I don't know that they are wrong or that they are right. But it certainly comes off super close-minded (or maybe even lazy?) to think that original ideas and values are somehow intrinsically purer than current ones.

My point being, if "the values and goals set forth by the original web" (whatever that means because "the original web" was a quarter hackers, corporations, academics, and government with very diverse goals and values), who cares?

Edit: left out "reminds" in the second sentence.


> But it certainly comes off super close-minded to think that original ideas and values are somehow purer than current ones.

Facebook looks to use technology to trick people into allowing the collecting of huge swarms of data from every user to feed its new features and cheapen its bottom line. There are many ways to make a profit, and in fact, I have no ethical quandary with Facebook doing this (I choose not to use Facebook because I am a discerning consumer. If you want to not be discerning in your internet use, I think that's your right.)

However, my _moral_ quandary with this premise is enormous. Of all the great ways to make a profit, why choose this cynical and disturbing model? Most great products help people, but Facebook does not make life easier or more enjoyable for its users. It's really just a blogging and chat platform riddled with "features" that exploit its users at every turn. I do not wish to engage in such activities myself, but I won't tell others not to do it. Ultimately, it is the consumer who needs to individually realize that these products are bullshit, not the companies making them. The only reason Facebook is successful is because its users are foolish enough to adopt it. If people didn't agree to these travesties, Facebook would not exist in its current form.

The "old" internet made up of hackers, academics, and government types, was far too discerning to allow something like Facebook to just happen.


To be clear, I didn't mean to accuse you of close-mindedness - I was referring to this behavior in general. Still, isn't completely irrelevant what the "old" internet thought? How does that make any difference here? I don't think it's exactly looking back with rosy glasses, but I don't see how it's a productive line of thought.

When there are opportunities to profit, someone will exploit it. There's no sense of morals, just a decision by the person who sees the opportunity whether to use it.

Out of curiosity though, do you (and how do you) plan on acting on your frustration? Do you see there being a need for people lobbying against Facebook like some lobby against junk food and obesity? I just wonder what's the point of having that opinion (and telling people about it) unless you wanted to do something.


Offtopic, but just so you're clear on something, people "freak out" because the document is utterly ignored or worked around, not because it's been changed. It's not conducive to the respect of law when the lawmakers and enforcers don't respect it themselves.


That is an interesting thought; thanks for pointing it out. I'll be a little clearer and use a specific example: gun control. We have a right to bear arms, but at this point it is such a huge part of American culture (or a major subset of it) that any potential (legal) changes to the right are met with hostility. People use our Constitution to defend the fact that our culture has evolved (around it). But it is a circular argument I think.

Now maybe the changes that are proposed to be made against aren't actually legal (which is what you are suggesting if I understand you correctly). I can't speak to that, I really don't know enough. I've just assumed changes would be legal. But your point is that I shouldn't just assume that and maybe I shouldn't.


The demand for heroin is overwhelming.[0]

An argument from popularity is not an argument that something is a net positive for society. Obesity is becoming more popular.

[0]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDylgzybWAw


Your point is valid, but the specific instance of obesity is worded poorly. Popular means "liked, admired, or enjoyed by many people or by a particular person or group", and obesity is not popular.


> obesity is not popular

depends on who you ask, really https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_acceptance_movement


The existance of a movement still doesn't mean it's popular at large.


good point, hopefully it stays that way


Wait, heroin isn't popular the way FB is. There aren't a billion heroin users (or whatever) on the planet. _For those people who use heroin_ it might be very popular but by far the majority of people are deciding not to use it. Unlike FB.


Because its more difficult to deliver, don't worry, they are trying.

You can argue whatever numbers you want, but the core principle is not assailed, which is that more != better than.

Between the years 1999 and 2010, sales for prescription painkillers to hospitals, doctors and pharmacies increased fourfold. By 2010, the number of pain medications prescribed was enough to keep every single American medicated for one month’s time.[0]

[0]http://www.addictions.com/opiate/10-opiate-addiction-statist...


Heroin and FB seems like a super tough stretch, at least for me.


I don't agree with the logic that just because something is popular it must be a net positive. Drinking a pint of gin every day was really popular at one time. It wasn't generally a positive thing.


"Given the undeniable popularity and usage of FB I think it's pretty clear it's been a net positive on society."

War, genocide, torture, brainwashing, we could list historically popular and widely used concepts all day that turn out to be bad ideas.


Since ancient times it's been fashionable to diss the newest media. "This invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory" -- Socrates, on writing. Facebook, as a synecdoche for "how the hoi polloi use the internet" is just another example of this. The reality is that my Facebook is a news feed tailored to my interests and reflecting what's happening to the people I care about and as such it's useful.


Socrates wasn't wrong. The adoption of new media should reflect a rational analysis of its benefits and drawbacks.

Writing enables us to store, transmit, and reflect upon information in ways that surpass speech. One negative consequence is that we get less practice in exercising memory, and we encounter more information than we could commit to memory in any case.

Social media enables us to get current information on the doings of people whose lives interest us. One negative consequence is that the information users encounter is subject to manipulation by those who dictate the content of the website, with the result that most users have reduced intellectual autonomy. What's more, much of the information presented is not relevant to users, which wastes much of the finite attention they possess. Data collected about users can be and is used to advance interests contrary to their own. Some of these issues are intrinsic to social media as a concept, others specific to the platforms that currently dominate.

Either way, it cannot reasonably be presumed that those opposed to the use of social media are simply Luddites.


Can you cite that exposure to written material has a negative impact on memory? It seems like an extraordinary claim.


One way to test it: there are significant numbers of muslims who as a matter of religious practise, fully commit the Quran to memory for recitation, this is one of the few modern traditions to use the old style of word-perfect oral memory. And there are plenty of "control" muslims from essentially the same backgrounds who don't bother. Comparing them might be interesting.


It isn't exposure to writing in itself that reduces remembering, but the difference in how literate people tend to behave, by relying more on "external storage" than their own memories. I first became aware of this possibility when I took a class in translating Homeric epic poetry, much of which has been shaped by its origin as an oral tradition. (For instance, it has been speculated that the many repetitive phrases the Homeric epics are aids to memory -- 'the swift-footed Achilles,' etc.)

It's well established that remembering is to some extent a skill. You can find sources with a cursory search. If you're interested in a longer treatment of the subject, "Moonwalking with Einstein" by a journalist named Josh Foer, who managed to win the largest memory competition in the US using mnemonics, is well worth the read.


How do we know that Socrates said that?


He posted it on his wall


Facebook requires my real name and pesters me for private information that can be used against me in a variety of ways (harassment, phishing, discrimination, etc). Posts on my feed can also hurt me if a potential employer doesn't like things I say or reveal. In the past, this wasn't a problem. In fact, FB is mostly liabilities if we consider the narrow range of things that are socially acceptable, especially to business culture.

My social identity not only has value but is also extremely fragile and can open me up to liabilities if it isn't curated properly. This is just exhausting. We are willfully handing over this valuable thing to FB for free. I don't think we can just dismiss this or compare it to old media.

Personally, I think we've reached the point where most people are starting to understand this. FB, past one's teen/college years, becomes a 'vacation and baby pics' only type thing. People know this information can be used against them and don't post anything that could be used against them. There's even a name for this "Real job radio silence."

On top of that, we're starting to see research that reveals social media anxiety. That's very different than picking up a copy of the New York Times or watching TV.


Minor nitpick - hoi polloi means the masses/people so the additional 'the' is redundant.

On your actual comment though, I feel I have to disagree; at least based on anecdotal evidence from people I know who use Facebook. It is a news feed if you count news as being only what people you know are talking about, which to me sort of misses the point of the internet. Surely you want to know about stuff that everyone else is talking about?

This wouldn't be a huge issue if people generally made the effort to seek out other things, but I find that this isn't the case.

Anyway, yeah, anecdotal and based on feeling rather than fact so feel free to discount.


I'm pretty sure writing had existed for millennia by the time Plato came around. And Plato knew that, so I have my doubts that you cited this quote with proper context.


Facebook's hardly "the newest media". Great grandparents are using it. It's become as mundane as the telephone, and with its neverending autoplaying videos, as inane as television.


If your Facebook feed is full of inane autoplaying videos, consider using the many provided tools to prune it - you can unfollow people and pages, tell FB you want to see less posts of a particular type, and opt out of posts from particularly spammy websites no matter who posts them.


I find that quote very hard to belive. Writing had been developed for millenia before Socrates' time.


I found that uninstalling television also saved a lot of time or at least "stopped" me watching random crap.

Anecdotally we had a 2-3 week period where the whole family had no TV/Internet access. I was quite disappointed when it all came back on and the board game nights and even the ad-hoc charades stopped. We do however have weekly game nights. I still consciously choose to only watch "planned" TV programmes.


One of the big benefits I've seen as a cord-cutter: I've stopped mindlessly surfing. Without channels, and having to select what I want from an app, I have to decide what I want, instead of seeing "what's on". Now I still watch crap from time to time, but it have to choose it, which has made me go to it a lot less.


I've been a cord-cutter long enough that now, instead of mindlessly surfing, I've got a backlog of so many shows I want to watch and don't have time for it seems I'm back to square one. The more things change...


Not seeing any ads anymore changed things in my household. I recall all the garbage ads I've seen as a kid. It's refreshing not having to endure any of that anymore.


This pretty much highlights my main beef with the current model of broadcast television, which is that it seems designed around leading to "that question", or "What's on?".

If you don't already know what you'd like to watch then perhaps you'd be better off finding something else to do that you enjoy (aside from those times when you genuinely do just want to crash and not think too much).


Reminds me of the scene from Seinfeld when they're pitching a TV show and get asked "why would anyone watch this?" and George answers "Because it's on TV!"

That is, people are just going to bounce through the major networks anyway.


It makes it a lot easier to keep in contact with family members and to know when there are concerts or other events in the area that I'd be interested in being at. That saves me quite a bit of time.


You don't need the app for that. Just open FB in your browser from time to time. You will see all you need to keep in touch.


Oh yeah, I agree. I was just responding to what I thought was the person above me's recommendation to not use Facebook at all. I may have been incorrect in that interpretation of what they were saying, though.


Life isn't all about productivity, but it's an interesting question.


Not much? If it wasn't facebook, it would be something else...solitaire maybe?


At least you can get good at playing solitaire, but you can't really 'get good at Facebook'.


Unless you're literally mindlessly staring at known data, you're learning. Social status updates and such are essentially a game, and they teach various aspects of social politics.

Dubious what useful skills most people can actually get from that but you can definitely "get good at facebook", as you put it. (And before anybody jumps on me - I hate facebook and I despise the completely fake life that comes out of the gaming aspects of facebook, but I can appreciate its values as a game designer)


> Unless you're literally mindlessly staring at known data, you're learning.

You can learn doing that too. The subconscious is an amazing thing.


The only way to win that game is not playing at all


Tell that to "growth hackers" and "social media marketing managers."


You don't see many people walking down the street playing solitaire though.


Candy crush on the other hand...


Hacker News perhaps?


Well... by doing what you enjoy, you lose productivity, but gain life. It's a trade-off that every person needs to make according to his/her desires.


I deleted my Facebook account 4 years ago, and I still don't have enough time for everything I'm interested in. Please send help.


Try installing it and deleting it again.


A lot, see that yet another recent study: http://www.talentsmart.com/articles/Multitasking-Damages-You...

I use an Android phone that lasts consistently more than 2 days (Sony z3 compact). Of course I don't have Facebook installed...


I guess it depends on what your definition of "wasted time" is?


Wasted? Are you implying that their time might be better applied elsewhere? People should be free to do whatever they want to. If you are talking about FB on the job, well perhaps those employees haven't been given enough work.


I honestly can't answer that but I cold-turkey'd my fb account about 2 years ago and I will never look back. You have to be a god damned fool to keep them posted on your day to day life.


> You have to be a god damned fool to keep them posted on your day to day life.

Absolutely the biggest form of hyperbole I've ever seen in my entire life, bar none.

Seriously though, some people use FB sparingly once or twice a day. Some people actually make money from FB or use it for marketing.

There are a lot of people that get more out of it than making snarky election posts.


Cool story. I use fb for marketing too. Who can't? Stop giving them your life story. It's not smart.


We get it, you don't use Facebook.

I personally love Facebook. I keep in touch with family I can't see often. They get to see my daughter as if they live near us.

I've engaged with people I would have never engaged with all because we have mutual friends, and end up growing friendships out of it.

I get to share things I find interesting, my thoughts, my feelings. I get to see a deeper side of my family and friends whom also do the same.

Look if your family and friends suck and all you see is "I had a bologna sandwich today" repeatedly, or that's all you can contribute, than take a look at your life and choice of peers, because using Facebook or not doesn't make or break them.


I came off as a jerk. Was cranky as all hell last night. Fb is actually a great way to keep in contact with your family and friends.


> You have to be a god damned fool to keep them posted on your day to day life.

That's a little much. There is one important usecase that I have: messenger. A lot of people (even the ones that I regularly meet) prefer to use messenger and that's the only reason I am sticking with it for now.


I use Facebook as a read-only service. I think for the last five years I probably have averaged a post a year.


Not to worry, your "friends" and/or "groups" are valuable to them as well, probably even more so than any "posts" or "updates" from you would be - those exist solely to trick users into seeing there is value in being on FB, but are otherwise just cluttering up FB's data stores.


Yup, I'm under no illusion I've somehow "beaten" Facebook. They certainly like showing me "Sponsored" posts and loads of ads.


This doesn't seem groundbreaking or mysterious. Battery stats are available for every application in settings > battery. I took a moment to reflect on the background usage for Facebook, and I turned that off. I did not delete the app. You can do the same thing in general > background app refresh. You'll still get notifications, and your newsfeed will refresh only when you open the app.


Until facebook forces its app to run in the background again by "accidentally" playing silent audio to get around that setting.[1]

https://www.reddit.com/r/iphone/comments/3opxhm/facebook_app...


To be fair, it's only a matter of time before Apple patches this, or in this case, Facebook "pushes a fix".

Otherwise the advice is sound, disabling backround app refresh is the better approach if you care about the app functionality and don't want to use the sub-par mobile browsing experience.

There's no need to lose out if you don't want to, regardless of the sensational headline.


> To be fair, it's only a matter of time before Apple patches this

I don't think that's being "fair" to the consumer. Sure it may get fixed in the future, but it's an issue now. And even if/when this specific issue got fixed, you can bet Facebook and others will look for other ways to get around this "limitation".


There's no benefit to them doing it intentionally, so I'm not sure why you've scare-quoted.


How is there not? Worst case scenario it makes the app feel a bit more responsive since it's consistently less out of date.

How could this be a bug?


Sorry, I was referring to "accidentally" using background audio. They never tried to say that was accidental, the accident was that someone basically left an infinite loop and it vacuumed people's batteries. That's what I'm talking about when I say there's no benefit.

Now it's working as expected. It's not an accident and FB never claimed that.


Since disabling nearly all app background activities, I don't have to worry about battery any longer. It makes a huge difference.


I'd be interested in knowing my battery stats but all I get is "Battery information will be available after using iPhone for a few minutes" (a solutionless problem that others also have, according to a Google search).


Now I don't use an iPhone as my main device, but many people are reporting that even turning off the background usage for facebook and still see a significant amount of background usage from the app.


I think background app refresh may be separate from location services, and facebook still tracks your location in the background. Try also turning off location services for fb (or set it to only when in use). Settings>Privacy>Location Services


Thats exactly what I was thinking. Or just turn the low power mode on, so that no app runs in the background. As easy as that!


iOS allows processes to run in the background (after being in the foreground) for some time even with this setting turned off. So this can be quite a difference (I don't use Facebook, but it's fairly noticeable with Viber).


Thank you for adding some sanity here. If someone's that obsessed with battery life, they can always delete all the apps off the phone and stay in airplane mode unless making a call. But then again, some people like to actually use their smart phone.


There's more to world than your little corner.

Last year I worked on development project with youth in Bolivia. It was common for them to use Facebook's website instead of app because it saved battery and data, both of which are extremely important to you if you are a poor teenager in a country with fairly expensive internet using a low-spec smartphone with generally poor battery life.

This way they could get a bit more out of it than they would otherwise which is a perfectly rational choice that doesn't deserve to be mocked.


True, but is this article really directed to poor kids in Bolivia?

Maybe if you're a poor teenager in a developing country, you should focus on saving your money rather than blowing it on a cell phone and data plan.


I don't think this comment is fair to them.

Computers are less widespread than phones because latter are cheaper and you can also take them where (cheaper or free) connection is. They are not just an entertainment device although they use it for that too (and why shouldn't they?).

Any research for school or otherwise will be done through phones as libraries for many are not easy to reach or well stocked. And social networks play an important information role beyond socialising that every human person needs purely for health benefits.


Shouldn't we ALL save our money instead of blowing it on a phone that can run Facebook better?

What standard are you trying to hold these teenagers to? I don't understand why they would need a cell phone less than any other teenager, or any other person really.


What's weird is that every time this story gets some traction, facebook apparently claim it's "not true", or admit there was a small "bug" that kept the app active.

This sounds pretty crazy to me. You really have to go out of your way to run in the background on iOS, particularly for more than a few seconds/minutes after being backgrounded, and especially when background processing is turned off. Yet, still I often see "time on screen 1.5hours; time in background 4hours". Even after the admitted "bugs" were "fixed".

It's hard to believe this is an accident.


It's not an accident or bug, they're just trying to spin it away. Their apps aren't engineered or architected, they're hacked together and held by miracle glue and it's gone so far that I bet even they aren't sure if they can rewrite it from scratch. That is the reason for all the leaks, bugs and drains they have. They even brag about their hacks.


Yeah, it's a really sad culture. Who could've guessed that "move fast and break things" results in lots of broken things?


It's bad enough that FB have to offer a "Lite" version for people lacking high-end smart phones. It's basically a wrapper around the mobile site + push notifications. I recently switched to it and don't really miss anything from the original app, and as a bonus I get chat without having to install the equally bloated FB Messenger app.

https://www.facebook.com/lite/

Signed APKs are available from various sites, the Google Play rollout doesn't seem to include Western countries.


I wished this was available on iOS.


It goes for other phones as well. I ditched the app a while back as they kept trying to push separate apps for chat and such and generally just because I don't read Facebook that often.

Switched over to a third party app called "Tinfoil for Facebook" which essentially just puts the mobile site in a sandboxed and somewhat optimized wrapper for easy mobile browsing. Battery improved as you'd expect by getting rid of one program that does a decent amount of stuff in the background. Nothing massive but it did make a difference.

That said, I feel like disabling a lot of things would improve battery life but depending on the apps in question, battery life may not matter much if you can't use the app. It's more an overarching effort I've made to only install dedicated apps for things that I really use enough to need a dedicated app. Since I only check Facebook 2 or 3 times during a typical week it didn't seem to be very important for me to keep their app(s). I can still check it out every so often when I'm bored and want to see what people are up to but I don't have yet another background app taking up resources or battery capacity.


m.facebook.com works pretty well too. I started using it due to Facebook asking for more and more permissions for its mobile app and never looked back.


I'm the same as you. When they started wanting (virtually) total control of my phone I axed the app and made a bookmark on my browser. It works amazingly well, arguably better than the app for my needs since I'm mostly a consumer, it has its issues occasionally when trying to make posts but that's pretty few and far between.


A tip for all you Android users out there.

Step 1 : Uninstall both Facebook and Facebook Messenger.

Step 2 (Optional) : Use Metal instead of the Facebook App : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nam.fbwrap...

Step 3 (Optional) :Use Disa instead of Facebook Messenger : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.disa

Step 4 : Enjoy your vastly improved responsiveness and battery life.



This seems like a roundabout to go about finding the useful data. If a few others could just open Settings > Battery > Last 7 Days, then tap on Facebook, I'd like to see your numbers.

48 min on screen, 13 min background, 2% of overall battery

Note: Background App Refresh for Fb was set to off!

The ratio of background time to screen time is high but Facebook isn't the worst offender. For example:

Instagram - 5.8 hrs on screen, 1.5 hrs background, 18%

Snapchat - 57 min on screen, 1.4 hrs background (whoa), 3%


My top few:

* Facebook - 2.7 hrs screen, 4.5 hrs bg, 42%

* Tumblr - 2.8 hrs screen, 27 min bg, 19%

* Safari - 1.1 hrs screen, 11%

Facebook does seem to be a prime offender in my case, but I don't think I have background refresh disabled.


Facebook: 14 min on, 1.8 back, 3%. (iPhone 6 iOS 9.2.x)

Overall, those Facebook numbers are fine (for Last 7 days). Nothing like 15%


iPhone 6+ here. Facebook isn't in my top 15 battery users for last 7 days (lowest 5 on the list take 1% each), even though it's been open in the background the whole time and I check in there on average once daily. In short, not a problem for me.

Like parent says, make sure you turn OFF "Background App Refresh" for the FB app.


- 1.3hrs on screen

- 2.9hrs background (!!!!)

- 8% overall (not bad)

edit: fixed list, HN needs to add proper markdown


Facebook - 30min screen, 1.5hr background, 3%

Twitter - 3.7hr screen, 32min background, 14%

Skype - 1.1hr screen, 35min background, 6%

WhatsApp - 1.5hr screen, 4.8hr background, 5%

(iPhone 5s)


It's one of the shittiest apps anyway. 111MB size? I mean honestly. What exactly does THAT mobile app need 111 Megabytes for?


For the millions of classes it needs due to the developers adding classes for every feature rather than adding it to pre-existing classes: http://quellish.tumblr.com/post/126712999812/how-on-earth-th...


In other words, it's typical "enterprise Java" style. I worked with code like that for a short time, and it's not just wasteful of machine resources; debugging and maintaining such code is a horrible experience.


Looking at my phone, a few make me wonder how we got here today.

Skype 149MB, Chrome 134MB, Sheets 122MB, Slides 115MB, Docs 101MB, Outlook 101MB, HSBC 73.97MB, Uber 60.98, Fitbit 79.77 ...

Skpye, HSBC, Uber & Fitbit all seem way larger than they should be

I've never knowingly used the Slides app.


Since All Browser on IOS uses the same rendering and JS engine, I fail to comprehend why it is larger then even an Desktop App which includes its own engines.

HSBC is nothing more then a web view. 80MB? Seriously?

There is something seriously wrong with the iOS App Ecosystem bloat.


The above is Android - I should have said that - but I think the same applies to both ecosystems.


I'd hazard a guess that part of the reason is about storing multiple copies of textures at different resolutions. At least, I think it works that way on the Apple store.


That is no longer the case since iOS 9 I think. Unless they didn't update / use the new App Thinning function.

But even if they get 30% reduction promised by App Thinning, they are still HUGE!.


This also applies on Android, supporting most modern devices requires 4 different sets of assets, which have all got larger as screen density has increased.


I had a look at app sizes on my phone and noticed a "cluster" around 60MB. I wonder if there's some common, huge, framework?


Binary serialization definition classes can take a large amount of binary size. Create 100 model types for protobuf with a lot of variables and you can have 3.5MB of C++ binary!


Maybe crosswalk[1], it takes about 50mb.

[1] https://crosswalk-project.org/


I've noticed this too, curious now - I'll ask some of my mobile developer contacts.


Usually, executable code is tiny. The bloat comes from data resources. 1 MB of code at 32-bit average instruction length ~~ 2.5M instructions. I'd guess FB's actual code size is somewhere around there (excluding third party libs, etc)


Disabling your facebook account saves up to 15% of your life.

edit: Damn, someone already made this joke. Sorry guys. I thought I was being clever.


I bet putting my phone in airplane mode would save battery too.. That said its another reason why it was smart to split out messenger. If I had to chose between text and calls or messenger I would have to pick messenger. Facebook I can take or leave but events is pretty important, plus instant articles are great (as an example of something you cant get in the browser).


The point is that most of us probably don't use the app all that much anymore, so removing it probably isn't a big inconvenience.

The article also mentions something I noticed a while ago too: mobile Safari is both faster and better on battery life than Chrome or any alternate browser. This makes sense - the alternative browsers are essentially running Safari under the hood anyway - but is still true.

However, I found this to be true on my MacBook Pro as well: Safari uses far less power and is significantly faster than Chrome. And while I think Chrome is far superior to Safari as far as features go, it's also hard to justify why my browser consumes more resources than VMWare Fusion running Windows 10.


Very true, although chrome has recently updated to use the new iOS web view and it's much nicer. Chrome does need a lot of work on OS X but I'm too locked into things like devtools at this point


I uninstalled Facebook on my iPhone 6 Plus last week, after reading a few of these articles. In my anecdotal experience, it's saving me anywhere from 20-40% of battery a day.


The Facebook app is one of the worst out there (among high profile apps), but their mobile website is one of the very best. I just use the latter.


> On average I had 15% more battery left by 10.30pm each day.

I wouldn't rely on this study. Why not use a battery measurement tool instead?


15% is a big enough difference that such a coarse methodology is fine to draw preliminary conclusions. Of course you could instrument better, but this is a writer at The Guardian, of whom I don't expect the technical prowess to do so, and the article (or what I skimmed of it) doesn't overstate his findings.


Their app also leaks memory like HELL. Just take a look at the storage being used by it in Settings.app under memory usage. I periodically delete the app & reinstall it to free up all that space. Sloppy engineering...


It'd be more accurate to say it leaks disk space (probably for cache), not memory. But I agree it's pretty brutal.


I took everyone's advice. Deleted the app for good & I'm going to give the mobile web app a try. So far, so good.


But at what cost? /s

Joking aside I've got a couple friends who don't use the app and will only use the web version and watching them use it is painful. It's not as easily to move around and do everything you can do on the mobile app. Also they normally take this stance with messenger as well which makes talking in groups with them painful as they are always slow to respond. If we were all on iOS we would probably just use iMessage but with the mix of iOS/Android FB is the best medium normally to plan/talk.


The study had a small sample size and no controlled (or even measured) use of the phones. I'm not entirely convinced this effect is real.


Agreed, super vague details about the usage, how long the web client was used, who are the users etc. Doesn't mention how drained the battery was with/without the app at the end of each day. Such studies, apart from providing some basic information aren't very good at proving any specifics.


I had the same experience months ago, the built in battery usage indicator always had it at the top, and it was a confirmed issue that was "resolved" in future builds. Decided it was best for Facebook and myself to depart for the new year. Too much time, and battery usage wasted. Removed app, deactivated account, 6S lasts for almost two days.


The author does not explain whether he turned "Background App Refresh" OFF for the Facebook app.

When this setting is OFF, Facebook should not be able to use CPU when it is not on screen.

Facebook have been caught using dirty tricks in the past to get around the Background App Refresh setting, but my understanding is that those were fixed.


I find this on my Android phone also. Fortunately, m.facebook.com works really well for managing a Facebook account.


I definitely prefer the m.facebook.com over the actual app, I haven't used the app for a while, so it would be unfair for me to judge it now. But I have no need to download the official app.


This is true for lots of apps. For example I don't use the Gmail app nor any other mail app for iOS because the sync traffic kills the battery. I just use Gmail's excellent mobile web site, which also means I don't get interrupted by notifications and I read my email at the time and place of my own choosing. Calendar is another battery killer. I found that I can use calendar apps but I can't sync the calendars of middle managers at work because all they do all day long is attend meetings and fiddle with their schedules, and again the sync traffic clobbers the battery. But if I just sync my own calendars it doesn't seem to matter. I wonder if the Facebook battery usage is proportional to how many friends you have in your network, of if it just uses a lot of energy regardless.


> which also means I don't get interrupted by notifications and I read my email at the time and place of my own choosing

FWIW, you can also turn off notifications with the app, which is what I've done for as long as I've had a smart phone.


For other iPhone users: I've gotten quite used to using the Paper app. It's an excellent interface (though it's a lot of gestures, so it has a learning curve) and gets you all the same content with a whole lot less shit in my experience (promoted posts and the like.) Also seems like it doesn't use the background trickiness that the regular app is full of. You get your notifications and messages same as in the regular one too, though a lot prettier.

Also: Speaking as an iOS developer, I can say with certainty that Facebook only gets away with this because it's Facebook. We've had a few binaries rejected for bad optimization, I can't believe Apple is kowtowing to Facebook so hard as to allow such atrocious software into the App Store.

Well, actually I can believe it. Still ticks me off though.


Yes, I still use Paper too. Unfortunately it seems like Facebook has given up on it: there hasn't been an update in quite awhile, it's missing some features of the web site (nested replies are the most obvious in my experience), and they've started removing some of the news categories. Hope they come back to it, though considering the main reasons I use it are a) no ads and b) don't have to install separate Messenger app, the app's existence probably goes against all corporate policy, so it's probably being left for dead.


Note: if you had location services on for Facebook, and then uninstall the app, Facebook location services remains ON, because it is part of the iOS base install. I'm not sure whether it continues sending info to their servers, but to be certain make sure to disable it after uninstalling.


Do you have a citation for that? If you've uninstalled the Facebook app it shouldn't even show up in location services (or the system services).


I mainly have the app installed so I can use the "Nearby Friends" feature as I enjoy spying on my wife and random friends.

I think the video calling is pretty good too on the app. Of course the last time I video called someone was in the early 2000's using 320x240 webcams so I might be a little biased quality wise.

I haven't really noticed battery drain but since I normally work at home, I keep my phone on "Airplane" mode so I don't waste battery maintaining a cell connection (the phone has wifi calling which can receive calls and sms).

This is a samsung galaxy core prime. If I don't use it and let it sit there at idle, after 2 days it will have only used 20-30% battery.


> I mainly have the app installed so I can use the "Nearby Friends" feature as I enjoy spying on my wife and random friends.

Creepy.


I uninstalled Facebook for iOS a while ago when they started blocking the messenger feature. You can access instant messages using their web client. No need to install either app really.


I notice similar improvements after removing Facebook from my phone - it's been gone a year - most people I hang out with rarely use Facebook anymore anyways


On Android, there was no way to tell it to not run in the background 24/7. That's what led me to uninstall it. I've recently replaced it with the mobile site running in Hermit.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.chimbori.h...


Android 6 does that (killing background apps) by default, so it's probably going to be better there. That said, I never installed Facebook, because it's just not that useful versus the website.


It's easily the worst app on the android. I've switched to using a chrome shortcut with notifications enabled, haven't looked back.


Not only did it save me battery life, if also made me more productive. I found that Facebook has become just not rally relevant these days?


I use the app occasionally, and it's only used 2% of my battery on average over the past 7 days, according to the battery section in my settings. I turned off background refresh.

Strange that the author is going through a guesstimate process when there's a built-in tool that'll tell you exactly how much juice an app uses, and if it's mostly from background activity.


What I don't understand is that neither in the privacy/location services or in the facebook app setting can I find a setting to disable access to the gps for the facebook app. I am not naive enough to assume facebook doesn't log gps locations. Does the app have a behind the scene access in iOS?


Settings -> Privacy (grey palm icon at the bottom of the 3rd group) -> Location Services. You can block location data gathering at the phone OS level; however, that won't help you against FB attempting geolocate your phone's IP server-side.


That's my point. I don't see the facebook app in this list. Despite having it installed and being logged in.


In that case, you may not have done anything in the app that asks for location (only then will the app attempt to register itself for location privileges).


about 3 years ago, I switched from the FB app to the FB mobile site, and performance on that site skyrocketed. I don't know how you screw up a mobile app that badly, but they found a way.

Shocking to read that 3 years later (today) it's still a horrible app, vastly inferior to the mobile web version.


Another point of reference on battery use:

I use the Facebook app for maybe 5 minutes total a week on my iPhone. Under the Battery settings for the past 24 hours, it shows it's used 5% of my battery for "background tasks". I don't recall opening the Facebook app in the past 24 hours.


It doesn't get mentioned quite as frequently, but one major benefit of using their mobile site is the capability to use iOS share and content blocking extensions. Find something interesting? Just open it in a new tab so that you don't lose your position in the feed.


Probably because the app is constantly scanning for beacons. https://www.facebook.com/business/a/facebook-bluetooth-beaco...


The only big issue with mobile app I found is that you can't just "send to" an image into it to create a post. Not sure if web standards are being developed towards that direction, since I am not sure how would that even look like in terms of user-experience.


On my admittedly low-end 1st gen Moto E, Facebook gobbles up RAM and limited storage space like the plague. It's web interface for me.

Makes me wonder if they are downloading an entire SQL database onto my phone. It's terrible app in terms of lightness


This is one of the poorest executions of an experiment I've ever read about. Read the post and the author obviously has no idea about methodology and then goes on to claim very precise results in his headline.


While I don't have quantifiable metrics, I think this is true of Instagram as well. I noticed that, after uninstalling Instagram, I was able to get through a full day on my 2-yr-old Moto X (vs. dying around 8pm).


that chimes with my experience. I've got a MotoG 3rd Gen which has a pretty good battery life. I installed Instagram and it was draining much faster and looking at the battery information it had drained about 20-30% of the charge and much more than any other app.


Wonder how much battery life removing Twitter saves? I'd have thought that'd update far more often than Facebook, which would kill more and more of the battery every time the news feed refreshes.


Interesting talk from Facebook engineers about their iOS efforts over the years: https://youtu.be/XhXC4SKOGfQ


I installed opera mobile and use it exclusively for FB and use incognito mode while on desktop.. that said some how FB ads still picks up on my amazon shopping trends.. need to dig through more.


Unless you use something like Tor and the relevant browser, they still have your IP address and things like browser user agent to "fingerprint" you.


Surely it can't be doing anything in the background if you use the task manage to kill the app? If so, uninstallation isn't the only option in order to save battery life.


> I accessed Facebook for the same amount of time, and for the same purposes, using the social network’s excellent mobile site within Safari, as I had done using the app.

He claims this but I'm incredibly skeptical and it doesn't seem like any actual controls were put in place.

The app is a much more addictive experience than the mobile web version, not to mention that it packs in more functionality. Push notifications alone probably double my daily Facebook usage.


One unmentioned downside - I'm not sure that it's possible to use Facebook Login without the mobile app.


Considering how bad the situation is with some other apps in terms of battery usage (looking at Yik Yak and Snapchat) I'm actually impressed that the Facebook app manages to keep consumption this low.

I'd be interested in seeing more rigorous numbers rather than just comparison to "... a week with the app." That doesn't tell me whether the 15% was from background computation or actual foreground usage.


On my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Facebook is preinstalled and cannot be removed. I guess I can always log out.


It will also save 40% of your time.


Facebook has found this odd niche that involves being utterly creepy and obnoxious but very hard to get rid of. It's like the corporate version of a crazy manipulative codependent "friend" who you can't get out of your life because your friends are into them.


Uninstalling Facebook from my life increased productivity by 15% as well.


I wonder if its the same for Facebook messenger app.


disable background app refresh in the settings?


So this is what React Native is for?


Perhaps the battery savings are because people stop checking their social network 5-10x per day?


You can keep the battery fully charged even longer if you turn the phone off, too.


That seems pretty obvious, in that it's the app most users spend the most of their time on. I'm surprised the percentage isn't even higher. If a person spends 30 or 40% of their time using their phone in the Facebook app, it's clearly going to use a large percentage of the battery life. Not being of bad app coding, but rather battery use is based on how much a user spends using different apps or different features.


Somebody didn't read the article:

> Testing reveals Facebook iOS app drains battery life, even when it isn’t being used, and that using Safari instead will make an iPhone last longer

and

> I accessed Facebook for the same amount of time, and for the same purposes, using the social network’s excellent mobile site within Safari, as I had done using the app.


This isn't about active use, but about the background process.




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