What apps are really worth turning on Background App Refresh?

dacreativeguy

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Jan 27, 2007
2,015
210
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.
 

Kurios2

macrumors regular
Sep 22, 2012
102
0
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.
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.
 
Last edited:

Small White Car

macrumors G4
Aug 29, 2006
10,905
1,182
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.
 

imorton

macrumors 6502
Aug 21, 2010
275
22
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.
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.
 

Small White Car

macrumors G4
Aug 29, 2006
10,905
1,182
Washington DC
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.
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.
 

Steeley

macrumors regular
Sep 10, 2011
247
230
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.
 

lyceumHQ

macrumors 65816
Aug 4, 2010
1,116
381
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.
 

Woochifer

macrumors 6502a
Apr 22, 2007
687
0
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.
 

Abazigal

macrumors G5
Jul 18, 2011
12,690
10,699
Singapore
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.
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.
 

sscaltri

macrumors member
Sep 30, 2014
36
1
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.
 

Fzang

macrumors 65816
Jun 15, 2013
1,313
1,068
Fitness trackers or mapping applications sometimes require this.

Other than that, nothing else is worth it.
 

rza49311

macrumors member
Sep 7, 2007
44
3
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.
been looking for a good data usage monitor app while on wifi. which are you using?
 

phositadc

macrumors 6502
Dec 9, 2012
455
35
Does DropBox require it if you are uploading files and want to switch to a different app while uploading?
 

ravipiero

macrumors regular
Oct 22, 2013
158
3
I used it for Evernote and Pocket apps only as I believe they sync my content in the background.
 

bushido

Suspended
Mar 26, 2008
8,070
2,754
Germany
Does DropBox require it if you are uploading files and want to switch to a different app while uploading?
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
 

Parasprite

macrumors 68000
Mar 5, 2013
1,698
144
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.
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.
 

AlanShutko

macrumors 6502a
Jun 2, 2008
707
73
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.
 

gordon1234

macrumors 6502a
Jun 23, 2010
571
162
Does DropBox require it if you are uploading files and want to switch to a different app while uploading?
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.
 

gordon1234

macrumors 6502a
Jun 23, 2010
571
162
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
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.

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Honestly I have everything ON and don't notice a difference either in battery life or how the apps work.
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.

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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.
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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