Apps running in background when not allowed

Discussion in 'iOS 8' started by DeanLubaki, Nov 5, 2014.

  1. DeanLubaki macrumors 6502a


    May 29, 2014
    I was wondering why some apps (Such Facebook, Paper and UP) are having "Background Activity" when the Background Refresh setting is either disabled for them or unavailable? For example, Background Refresh is disabled for Facebook but in the Battery Usage logs, Facebook shows up as having "Background Activity" as well as Paper and UP, who doesn't even have Background Refresh settings.
    Can somebody clarify the different Background/Multitask modes of iOS (I don't understand well Apple's KB article on Background Refresh)?

    Is anybody else having that "bug"?

    IMG_0673.PNG IMG_0674.PNG
  2. NoBoMac Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jul 1, 2014
    Notifications enabled for those apps in question?
  3. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    As per apple support document

    'If you turn off Background App Refresh, some background activity might still occur.'

    This could be the refresh of your local cache on closer of the app or such so for example if you post on fb and quit. It could take a few seconds for the app to pause causing a background usage figure to show because the task being processed at the time needs to complete before the suspend state kicks in.

    I hope that explains it
  4. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    EDIT: Gav2k above me confirms my guess.

    This is me guessing, but...

    The old way for apps to do stuff in the background limited them to just a few minutes after they were closed. Dropbox, for example, could keep uploading files after you closed it, even before Background Activity was added to iOS.

    Well, then they did add real Background Activity and the ability to turn it off per app. But does anyone know if that actually replaced the old way? My suspicion is that it was simply added on to that as an additional feature, but that the old way still exists.

    If I'm right it means that Facebook may still be getting a minute or two of activity after you close it, even though you've disabled the all-the-time Background Activity feature.

    Does anyone know if there's anything to my theory?
  5. Jayson A macrumors 68000

    Sep 16, 2014
    I think you are correct sir! When you start uploading a photo in Facebook, you can close the app and it will continue to upload the photo in the background. It has nothing to do with the app automatically refreshing in the background.
  6. gordon1234 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    There are many ways for an app to do things in the background. Background App Refresh only refers to the very specific case where the system will simply wake up the app periodically and let it do whatever it needs to do in the background.

    Apps can be woken up due to changes in location, due to push notifications (including "silent" notifications that wake the app up but are not displayed to the user), and can continue to complete ongoing tasks in the background for some time after being closed. Background App Refresh only affects the cases where the system wakes up apps periodically for no other reason than to give them some time to load data in the background.

    If you wanted to prevent apps from waking up at all, you'd have to disable their access to location services and notifications, and also be sure to manually swipe them out of the app switcher whenever you're done with them. Not worth it. 95% of apps behave just fine and have minimal battery impact from their occasional background activities.
  7. DeanLubaki thread starter macrumors 6502a


    May 29, 2014
    Thanks for your explanations! I still believe Apple should clarify that matter thought, since it's not clear which "Background" is involved.
    There's also no way for us to disable any kind of background activity for an app! :(

    Thanks you :)
  8. fortheus macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2012
    There are several activity allowed to run in background. The main issue is usually with VOIP app.

    The system allowed voip app keep running in background.

    The definition of background app refresh is different than background activity.

    Background app refresh= system wake the app periodically to fetch data

    Background activity = the app never terminated

    Now. The tricky part is FB app. They used to be running in background due to previously their messenger is built in to the main app. Messenger can make and receive call. Thus categorize as voip.

    Now they separate the main and chat app. I'm not sure if they still allowed running in background.

    The first few iteration still drain my battery. Now the battery seems fine even when they are not removed
  9. DeanLubaki thread starter macrumors 6502a


    May 29, 2014
    But is (for example the Facebook app) never terminated because it's still in the background tray or because even if removed from the background tray, it's allowed to run?
  10. fortheus macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2012
    If you remove from background tray, it gets terminated. For non voip app they get terminated when system requires the resource.

    Let say for 1 gb ram. You can hold 5 apps. When you opened the 6th app. The oldest one get terminated.

    If it's a voip app. It's still running even when you run 20 app.
  11. zoneee macrumors regular

    Sep 17, 2014
    Sorry if i post on this old thread, but does this mean that if i disable background app refresh for Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger they will still work as intended even when my phone is locked? because in that case i dont see the reason to leave the option on!
  12. C DM macrumors Sandy Bridge

    Oct 17, 2011
    Yeah they will still work just like before.
  13. zoneee macrumors regular

    Sep 17, 2014
  14. Petry macrumors newbie

    Jul 1, 2014
    Hi. Since IOS 8 apps can "wake up" when receiving specific notifications. Whatsapp (and probably Facebook) has using this. Since Whatsapp is end-to-end encrypted it wakes uo the phone to download and decript the message. That happens even if Background App Refresh is off and if the app was "closed". Thatá a very boring issue mainly when you mute a group but whatsapp still wakes up at every message received. Another way to test is to open whatsappweb, close the app and disable background activities and notifications. For a while whatsappweb will still work. Wait a few days and you'll see that it won't work anymore.
    If you connect your iPhone to the computer and open the "Activity app" inside XCode you'll be able to see which apps are running on the background. In the phone, removing whatsapp imediatly removes it from running apps, but a few minutes later the app will open itself again.

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13 November 5, 2014