What apps are really worth turning on Background App Refresh?

Discussion in 'iOS 8' started by dacreativeguy, Oct 10, 2014.

  1. dacreativeguy macrumors 68020

    Jan 27, 2007
    What real benefit does BAR really provide? For most apps, like games and tools, I don't need anything from them when I'm not using them. All the news and social apps have push notifications from the server, so I get info regardless of whether the app is refreshing in the background. So is the only benefit of BAR to save me a few seconds of refresh time when I open an app?

    What apps do you deem worthy and valuable of background refreshing on your phone? I haven't been able to find any such lists or recommendations.
  2. MalcolmJID macrumors 6502a

    Nov 1, 2005
  3. Kurios2, Oct 10, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2014

    Kurios2 macrumors regular


    Sep 22, 2012
    That's entirely up to you! Go through them and then decide. Take your time and good luck. Remember, you can always go back and make changes.
  4. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    Personally I have only left on Dropbox, Facebook Messenger, & Google Docs.

    But that has a lot more to do with the frequency I use those apps and less to do with good general advice for everyone else. YMMV

    But the point is, yes, I went through the list and decided everything else could stay off, one by one.
  5. imorton macrumors 6502

    Aug 21, 2010
    Hi, I don't have BAR enabled, and all of these apps works just the same...

    So what would the advantage be to having BAR enabled, and what would I see different?

    Thanks for any replies... IAN.
  6. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    Everything will still work without it (same as in the old days) but I believe some things are pre-loaded and come up faster if it's on.

    I honestly have no idea what those 3 apps are doing, I just know that if BAR is going to do anything, they're the 3 I'd be interested in allowing to do it because of how often I use them. It's not so much that I turned those 3 on as it is that I turned everything else off.
  7. Steeley macrumors regular


    Sep 10, 2011
    I have it turned on for Mailbox so the badge stays accurate and also for YNAB so that it automatically syncs updates to my budget. It's definitely an area to review often because I find they seem to turn it back on after an app update.
  8. lyceumHQ macrumors 65816


    Aug 4, 2010
    I have it switched off. I've yet to find a reason for it. Games don't need to refresh. It takes seconds to load facebook when you open it. Same with twitter etc

    Messenger apps have push so you get an alert when you get a message on whatsapp or BBM etc.

    I can see no pro to it that outweighs the con of battery drain.
  9. Woochifer macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2007
    I only use the background refresh for my step tracker and data usage monitoring apps. Those apps track my step counts and data usage in real time. Having the background refresh disabled means that the time stamps will combine the step and data usage and only refresh when the app is in the foreground.
  10. Abazigal macrumors G4


    Jul 18, 2011
    Basically, you save that few seconds when you open the app, and don't need to wait for the data to load. For example, with BAR enabled, I open tweetbot and my tweets are there waiting for me. I think it was useful a few times when I went to a toilet that had no network coverage. So even though my phone had no reception, I had some preloaded tweets to read while I went about my daily business. :p

    Overall, the benefits are quite minor. It just serves to make using your apps seem that bit speedier. I leave it on for quite a number of apps because I haven't really noticed a significant drop of battery life because of it.
  11. sscaltri macrumors member

    Sep 30, 2014
    I've turned this off completely. I have noticed one positive improvement. When checking my battery usage I had noticed that calendar background activity was showing more usage than other apps I was actively using. Since I've turned off BAR, I haven't had any apps show battery usage doing background activity. I haven't seen any performance degradations on my apps after turning off. Not sure what it's really used for.
  12. Fzang macrumors 65816


    Jun 15, 2013
    Fitness trackers or mapping applications sometimes require this.

    Other than that, nothing else is worth it.
  13. Zcott macrumors 68020

    Oct 18, 2009
    Belfast, Ireland
    Reeder, Pocket Casts, Weather. No hanging around waiting for stuff to download, it's just there immediately.
  14. Resqu2 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 23, 2011
    I left weather on but not sure it makes any difference or not?
  15. rza49311 macrumors member

    Sep 7, 2007
    been looking for a good data usage monitor app while on wifi. which are you using?
  16. phositadc macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2012
    Does DropBox require it if you are uploading files and want to switch to a different app while uploading?
  17. sflomenb macrumors 6502a


    Jul 22, 2011
    It really helps for apps like Reeder and Dark Sky.
  18. ravipiero macrumors regular

    Oct 22, 2013
    I used it for Evernote and Pocket apps only as I believe they sync my content in the background.
  19. Mrfatboy macrumors 6502

    Dec 15, 2008

  20. Switchback666 macrumors 68000


    Nov 16, 2012
    Honestly I have everything ON and don't notice a difference either in battery life or how the apps work.
  21. bushido Suspended


    Mar 26, 2008
    dropbox requires location services to be enabled for whatever reason and the location arrow is constantly on my status bar so i turned the auto update feature off. probably a huge battery drainer.


    i have it turned off for everything and i dont notice much of a difference to having it enabled
  22. Parasprite macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2013
    On my iPad? Anything I use regularly unless they are found to excessively drain the battery. Admittedly, I haven't found any that are worth even that.

    On my iPhone? Nothing, unless for some reason I absolutely need it (Maps, anything that tracks movement really) but it gets turned off as soon as I stop needing it.
  23. AlanShutko macrumors 6502a

    Jun 2, 2008
    OmniFocus 2, definitely. This allows OF to synchronize my todo list between devices while it's in the background. This ensures that when I check off an item on one device, it stops alerting me on the others.
  24. gordon1234 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    No. A good example of it being really helpful is Dropbox' Carousel app for auto uploading photos without background refresh, photos only get uploaded if you remember to open the app when connected to WiFi after taking photos. With background refresh, they upload on their own without you needing to do anything.
  25. gordon1234 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    That sort of location monitoring has virtually no effect on battery life. It's coarse monitoring only, so it uses cellular triangulation + nearby WiFi networks + Bluetooth beacons (if available.). It does NOT use the GPS. iOS is constantly doing this kind of monitoring in the background anyway, so really the only difference is whether it is passing this information onto apps or not.

    This feature in Dropbox actually predates background app refresh and I'm not sure why it's still there. It's a bit of a hack really. Before background app refresh, the only way an app could wake up when in the background was if it requested to be notified of changes in location. This was designed for apps that needed to do something useful at a specific location. However, Dropbox repurposed this feature to simply give itself a few minutes to upload any queued photos in the background whenever you moved somewhere new. With background app refresh, this shouldn't be needed, and Dropbox's new photo app, Carousel, does not do this.


    The battery usage section under usage in settings will mark any tasks that used battery as a result of app refresh with the words "background activity," which can be very helpful. I'm assuming this includes other forms of background activity such as usage from GPS navigation, music playback, push notifications, etc, but I'm not sure.


    You shouldn't need this for anything that tracks movement. In fact, it would be quite useless for this since apps have no control over when they actually get refreshed. It could be hours before an app wakes up. There are other APIs for location tracking that can wake up an app at a specific location, as well as location APIs that allow an app to simply keep running indefinitely in the background (only for real time voice navigation purposes.)

    BAR is only really useful for apps that need to either send or receive data from a server in cases when this is not time sensitive.

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48 October 10, 2014