Background app refresh is a feature found in both iOS and Android smartphones that allows apps to update their content from the internet, even while you’re not using them.
Ever noticed Spotify alerts that notify you of an album release you didn’t know about? You can thank background app refresh for that. With the background app refresh feature on, apps on your phone can send convenient alerts and implement updates.
However, these background apps drain your battery and can use up your data at an alarming rate of 3-5MB per hour. In this article we’ll cover what the feature actually does and how to either turn on or off the feature on your iPhone or Android phone.
What Does Background App Refresh Do?
As earlier stated the feature allows apps to update their content from the internet, even when they are not open. Background app refresh also does the following:
- News apps grab the latest headlines so they’re updated when you open them
- Apps that track your mobile data usage collect information in the background
- Cloud storage services sync your files automatically
- Grocery store apps detect that you’re at a store and prepare the latest digital coupons
- Social media apps like Twitter preload the latest tweets so you don’t have to wait for them upon opening
Should You Use The Feature?
Background app refresh is convenient and useful, however, there are a couple of reasons why you might want to turn it off.
One of the reasons as to why you’d consider turning off the feature is to save battery life. Apps running in the background tend to consume battery power just like when you run them in the foreground.
If you’re looking to maximize how long your device lasts between charges, you probably don’t want to waste battery on background tasks. Luckily, turning the feature off is quite straight forward for the iPhone and Android smartphone.
It’s important to note that for most apps on iPhones, background app refresh does not affect notifications. This means that you can disable the feature for messengers like WhatsApp and you’ll still see notifications when you get a new message. However, this isn’t the case for Android.
How To Turn Off The Feature On iPhones
To turn off the feature on iPhones, follow the following steps:
- Open the Settings app and select General
- Scroll down and tap Background App Refresh
- Now you should see a list of every app that has permission to idle in the background
- To disable refreshing for select apps, slide the switches to Off
To disable refresh for all apps, tap the option at the top of the page and select one of the following:
- Wi-Fi & Cellular Data: This is the default, so you won’t want to choose this
- Wi-Fi Only: Apps only update if you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network
- Off: This stops apps from updating in the background entirely
How To Turn Off The Feature On Android Smartphones
To turn off the feature on Androids, follow the following steps:
- Go to Settings and select Apps & Notifications
- Select See All Apps
- Tap the app you want to disable refresh for, then select Mobile Data & Wi-Fi
- Turn the Background Data slider to Off
Performing the steps above will prevent the app from using data and battery in the background, but background usage will continue when connected to Wi-Fi.
Note: “Background App Refresh” is an Apple term, but Android’s background data operates in the same way.