What is Background App Refresh on iPhone and Android

By | January 5, 2022

What does Background App Refresh mean and what is this feature for? Here’s how it works on iPhone and Android.

Background App Refresh is an essential function on iPhone and Android phones. If you’ve seen this term floating around and aren’t sure what it means, we’re here to explain.

Let’s take a look at what Background App Refresh is, what it does for you, and how to change its behavior.

What is Background App Refresh

Background App Refresh is an iOS and Android feature that allows apps to update their content from the internet, even when you’re not using them. Instead, we say that the application uses data in the foreground (foreground) when you open and use it yourself.

Background Refresh allows all kinds of functionality that you should have to keep apps open for access. But what exactly does Background App Refresh do? Here are some examples of actions that are handled without you having to manually inspect them:

  • The news app gets the latest headlines so it’s updated when you open it
  • Apps that track your data usage collect information in the background
  • Cloud storage services sync automatically
  • A grocery store app that detects that you are in the store and prepares the latest digital coupons
  • Social media apps like Twitter preload the latest tweets so you don’t have to wait for them to open

Note that if you close an app from the app switcher, it may not update again until you open it. This is one of the many reasons why you shouldn’t be constantly swiping to kill all your apps.

Also, it’s important to note that for most apps on iPhone, Background App Refresh doesn’t affect notifications. This means you can disable the feature for messengers like WhatsApp and still see notifications when you get a new message. However, this is not the case for Android, as we’ll see in a moment.

Should I Use Background App Refresh

In most cases, Background App Refresh is easy to do. However, there are two main reasons you might want to turn it off.

First, by default, Background App Refresh is on on mobile data and Wi-Fi connections. Apps can use a lot of data in the background, so if you’re on a limited data plan, this could result in additional charges on your bill.

Another reason to disable Background App Refresh is to save battery life. Apps running in the background consume battery power just like when you run them in the foreground. If you want to maximize how long your device lasts between charges, you might not want to waste battery on background tasks.

Luckily, Android and iOS let you turn off and change Background App Refresh. Let’s see how to do this.

How to Turn Off Background App Refresh on iPhone

To change which apps run in the background on your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. Here, you will see a list of apps on your iPhone that are using Background App Refresh.

Just disable the slider for an app, and it will no longer update in the background. You’ll need to open the app to get online and check for new information. Be careful when doing this with apps where you rely on up-to-date content.

Tap field Background App Refresh at the top to change how the function works globally. If you choose Wi-Fi & Cellular Data, the application will be updated on all types of networks. choose Wi-Fi if you don’t want the app to check for new content while using mobile data, which is a good idea if you have a limited cellular plan.

You can also choose off so that the app never refreshes in the background. This will save battery, but also make the app less useful, so use it with caution.

Low Power Mode and Cellular Access on iPhone

There are two other iPhone options that you should be aware of that are related to Background App Refresh.

One of them is Low Power Mode, which limits your iPhone processes to save battery. When you enable Low Power Mode, your iPhone reduces its brightness, disables email boost, and turns off Background App Refresh completely. It’s easier to turn on Low Power Mode than it is to disable Background App Refresh itself, because when you turn off Low Power Mode, Background App Refresh will turn on again.

Finally, on the menu Settings > Cellular, you can disable the slider for any app that you don’t want to use mobile data for. This is a good way to prevent data-hungry apps from using too much data with Background App Refresh, while still allowing other apps to take advantage of the functionality.

How to Turn Off Background App Refresh on Android

Android doesn’t have a feature with the exact name “Background App Refresh”, but offers an option that accomplishes almost the same functionality. The option location and name depends on your device; The instructions below are for stock Android 11 on Pixel phones.

To prevent the app from using mobile data in the background, go to Settings> Apps & notifications> See all apps or Settings > Apps & notifications > See all apps. Tap the app in the list for which you want to disable Background App Refresh.

From this menu, you have two different options for disabling background activity on Android. If you want to prevent the app from using your mobile data in the background, select Mobile data & Wi-Fi and disable the slider Background data. This will prevent the app from using mobile data unless you use it in the foreground. Background usage when using Wi-Fi is not affected.

Your other option is to prevent the app from running in the background altogether. To do this, tap the section Advanced in the app settings page to show more options. Then select Battery/Battery from the expanded list.

Tap Background restrictions, followed by Restrict, to completely prevent apps from using battery in the background. Unlike the iPhone’s background app refresh feature, this affects notifications. So you should do this only for apps that you don’t need real-time alerts for.

Account Sync, Battery Saver and Individual App Options on Android

There are several other options related to Background App Refresh that you should know about on Android.

Android keeps all your synced internet accounts on a separate page in Settings. open Settings> Account or Settings > Accounts to see it. Tap account/account and select Account sync or Account sync to review and adjust what is synced. For example, you may be able to stop the service from syncing your contacts, files, and other data all the time.

For a more drastic step, disable the slider Auto sync app data or Automatically sync app data at the bottom of the screen and the account will only sync when you manually trigger it.

Most Android phones have an option called Battery Saver/Battery Saver or similar, which is located below Settings> Battery or Settings > Battery. Enabling Battery Saver is very similar to Low Power Mode on iPhone in that it limits apps from running in the background to save as much power as possible.

Finally, if none of the options above limit Background App Refresh the way you want, it’s worth checking the individual settings in your app. Many apps let you choose how often your feed is synced, new emails are fetched, etc.

Now You Understand What is Background App Refresh

While Background App Refresh works a little differently on iPhone and Android, at its core, it’s a feature that allows apps to stay up to date even when you’re not using them. And while this is often convenient, you now also know how to prevent apps from using too much battery or mobile data in the background.

Unfortunately smartphones have very short battery life compared to other devices, but at least you have a way to make the most of it.