The Facebook iPhone app kills battery life

Yesterday I got directed to this thread on MacRumours which in turn links to this story on TUAW.

I had noticed over the past few months that my iPhone's standby battery drain was higher than expected, but I'd put that down to the iPhone 5 potentially not being as long lasting as previous models.

Turns out it's likely that the real culprit is the most popular iPhone app of all time: Facebook.

I haven't conducted any scientific tests (yet) but by manually killing the Facebook app (and just to be sure: Facebook's Messenger app too) after each use, I seem to have made a very noticeable difference to my iPhone's longevity.

This is despite the fact, that for the Facebook app at least, I have all push notifications and badges switched completely off.

It's puzzling because I'm normally the first to lecture friends that they should never need to manually kill an app at all, and certainly not for battery conservation reasons. It seems like the Facebook app is using its VOIP status to keep active (doing non-VOIP related things, I imagine) in the background, specifically against the design pattern that Apple intended.

Considering it's the most popular and most used app on iOS, this extra drain actually represents an issue with significant platform harming impact. To that end, I hope that Apple are on the case and Facebook can properly fix it.

What's also interesting is that although I have now found quite a few articles about this, it's not common knowledge and certainly hasn't percolated through as a mainstream (tech) news story, despite the day to day impact it will be having on the vast majority of iPhone users. 

It also represents a potentially worrying preview of what's to come with iOS 7 multitasking. Yes, the OS is supposed to keep strict control over background activity scheduling, but, as the above iOS 6 abuse shows, it'll only take a few badly designed apps to waste a lot of battery life requesting CPU time they don't need.

I would be interested to hear how anyone else trying this gets on; let me know via Twitter.


On the future of iOS and Android

Some great speculation from Steve Cheney. He predicts Android platform and hardware specification fragmentation will become far more of a problem than any form factor differences, especially for cutting edge use cases.

It’s not even funny how bad fragmentation will hurt Android and Google in location based sharing and payments apps ... when your Android phone won’t communicate with others or at POS terminals (tablets / iPads) it will be tough to rationalize. [...] state of the art apps around local discovery / wireless will rarely support Android.

Certainly where I'm working now, we don't have a problem supporting multiple screen sizes on Android. Our fragmentation problems are caused primarily by vendors shipping Android with differing built in libraries, sometimes and surprisingly excluding ones that our application requires to function. This rings true for us:

The real trouble comes in different ways – e.g. a friend I know has been seeing a lifecycle bug crash the keyboards on ALL Samsung phones. It’s not an Android version issue, it crashes the app across revs; it’s something non-standard Samsung is doing to Android itself.


Taxonomy vs. individualism in animals

Brilliantly written article about the history of the scientific consensus around animal consciousness: Being a sandpiper

Just as humans shared physical traits with other creatures, Darwin argued, so we also shared mental traits. The ability to think and feel was just another adaptation to life’s uncertainties and hazards, and, given our evolutionary relatedness to all other living things, it made no sense for them to be unique to us. [...]

By emphasising the kinship between animals and human beings, Darwinian taxonomy could have opened the door to thinking about the consciousness of individual animals. But, instead, the opposite happened.

Has our obsession with classification got in the way of us seeing individual animals as distinct individuals? Is zoological orthodoxy a little too reticent to anthropomorphise and what benefits could there be from hypothesising about it more freely?

There is also some excellent supplementary debate in the comments. Well worth a read.


Confusing controls of Facebook, part one

In general, across all platforms, I actually think Facebook does an incredible job with their UI.

It's probably one of the most complicated applications most people ever use and yet it is used a huge amount and in some depth. 



Every single time I use this control—and that's probably at least once a week—I click on 'Custom' first, then get confused by the dialog that appears, and have to hit Cancel.

 I then look again and realise it's 'See all lists...' I need to use.

I then wonder why there's a divider between the two sections of the drop down when each selection is functionally similar and why it says something as confusingly dilute as 'See all lists...' anyway.

Facebook: please tweak this so that I don't make the same mistake every single time . It's beginning to make me feel really stupid.