What Is Background App Refresh on iPhone and iPad

What Is Background App Refresh on iPhone and iPad

Apple introduced the Background App Refresh with iOS 7, and since then it has continued to be a part of every iOS update. At the end of the article, you will learn about the benefits of refreshing the background app and how to turn it on or off.

Let’s start.

What is Background App Refresh in iPhone and iPad Settings

To understand the background app refresh feature in iOS and iPadOS, you need to know the lifecycle of an app. To put it simply, when you use an application, it is said to be active and in the foreground. When you press the Home button or open a new app, the first app goes into the background. You can still access it from the multitasking screen or the app switcher (recent apps), where it is said to be in a suspended state after a short period of time.

Now that’s where the background app refresh comes in. With background app refresh enabled, apps in suspended mode can regularly check for new content. So if you switch to a suspended app present in the app switcher screen, you will be greeted with the new data without waiting or refreshing.

What is iPhone iPad 5 background app refresh

However, if you exit or close the app from the app switcher, enabling background app refresh doesn’t do much. The content of the app will then only be updated when you open the app. Basically, Apple intelligently understands user behavior over time and stops refreshing content in the background.

For example, if you don’t open the Facebook or Instagram app for several days, you won’t see the latest posts immediately when you open it later because it was inactive or not running. The application will take its time to refresh and display the latest messages.

So, with the background app refresh, suspended apps periodically update background content so that new content is available to you.

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Which apps support refreshing background apps

Background app refresh functionality should be implemented by the app developer for third party apps. So it varies from application to application.

What is the benefit of refreshing the background app

A lot of people are wondering what the purpose of refreshing the app in the background is. The main advantage is speed. When you switch to an app from the app switcher, it is ready with the new content because it has already been updated in the background.

Take the example of Facebook. If you switch to it from another app, it would have automatically refreshed the feed to show the new content. If background app refresh is disabled, you might have to wait a bit to let the app refresh.

Likewise, refreshing the app in the background is handy for news apps. If you like to read the news at regular intervals, you will get the most recent news when you open the app as long as the app has not been closed completely. Basically, refreshing the app in the background doesn’t let you wait for your data when you launch an app.

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How to enable or disable background app refresh

You can enable / disable background app refresh for all apps or customize the behavior and do it for individual apps.

Here are the steps for both:

Step 1: Open settings and go to General.

2nd step: Tap Background App Refresh.

What is iPhone iPad 1 background app refresh

Step 3: Now if you want to turn it on / off for all apps, tap Background App Refresh on the next screen again. Tap Off if you want to turn it off. You can also keep background app refresh enabled on Wi-Fi only or for Wi-Fi and mobile data.

What is iPhone iPad 2 background app refresh

What is iPhone iPad 4 background app refresh

If you want to turn it on or off for an individual app, go to Settings> General> Background app refresh. Deactivate the button next to the app for which you want to disable background app refresh. You can also enable or disable it from app settings i.e. go to Settings> (app name)> Background app refresh.

What is iPhone iPad 3 background app refresh

Note: The main background app refresh toggle from step 3 should be kept enabled to customize individual app behavior.

What happens when turning off background app refresh

For starters, refreshing the app in the background has no impact on notifications. You will still receive notifications from an app even if background app refresh is turned off. That is, you will receive emails, chat messages, etc.

Second, as you have surely guessed, you will not receive updated information as soon as you open the app. However, that doesn’t make much of a difference unless the app mandatorily requires that the background app be refreshed.

Apart from that, Apple lists turning off background app refresh as one of the tips to improve battery on iPhone and iPad.

If you turn off background app refresh

Now we come to the million dollar question: should you turn off background app refresh? Well, it varies from app to app. Most apps will work normally with background app refresh turned off. However, some apps require it to be enabled. So you don’t have to completely disable it for all apps. But test each app manually and see how it works without refreshing the app in the background.

Last updated Jan 27, 2021

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