Former Apple Genius: Closing apps running in the background can actually worsen battery life

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Ever since Apple introduced multitasking in iOS 4, one of the hotly debated topics has been whether closing apps running in the background can help preserve battery life or it makes it worse.

Scotty Loveless, a former Genius Bar technician has written an excellent article on how to solve the problem of battery drain in iOS, in which he says that users should stop closing apps in iOS as it can actually worsen battery life rather than preserve it.

He explains:

Yes, it does shut down the app, but what you don’t know is that you are actually making your battery life worse if you do this on a regular basis. Let me tell you why.

By closing the app, you take the app out of the phone’s RAM . While you think this may be what you want to do, it’s not. When you open that same app again the next time you need it, your device has to load it back into memory all over again. All of that loading and unloading puts more stress on your device than just leaving it alone. Plus, iOS closes apps automatically as it needs more memory, so you’re doing something your device is already doing for you. You are meant to be the user of your device, not the janitor.

The truth is, those apps in your multitasking menu are not running in the background at all: iOS freezes them where you last left the app so that it’s ready to go if you go back. Unless you have enabled Background App Refresh, your apps are not allowed to run in the background unless they are playing music, using location services, recording audio, or the sneakiest of them all: checking for incoming VOIP calls , like Skype. All of these exceptions, besides the latter, will put an icon next to your battery icon to alert you it is running in the background. 

So according to Loveless, not only does it not help to close apps running in the background, it will end up using more battery life when you launch the app again.

This might have been somewhat true in iOS 6, but in iOS 7 with features like Background App Refresh, I do think closing an app running in the background can help preserve battery life, especially if the app has Background App Refresh enabled and you don’t plan to use it. The Background App Refresh feature in iOS 7 allows apps to refresh their content in the background. So apps wake up periodically, and download the latest content just before you are likely to open it.

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In my opinion, in iOS 7 it makes sense to occasionally close all apps running in the background, except for your most frequently used apps. We had discussed this topic at length when iOS 7 was released, and we still come to the same conclusion.

What has been your experience? I would love to know your thoughts on this topic in the comments below.

[via Overthought.org]

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