The Multitasking Window and Background App Refresh

You might be familiar with the multitasking window on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. This is activated by double-pressing the Home button. Alternatively, it can be accessed with 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s/6s Plus or the iPhone 7/7 Plus by pressing on the left side of the display; and on the iPad, swiping up from the bottom with four fingers will bring up the multitasking window as well.

img_0010What is the multitasking window for?

The multitasking window is great for quickly switching between apps you’re currently working in. So if you’ve got an ongoing project and you’re using Photos, Word, and Safari, the multitasking window is a quick way to switch between all these apps instead of pressing the Home button and navigating back and forth.

The multitasking window also allows you to force quit an application that isn’t responding. For example, if your Safari app freezes and is unresponsive, you can double-press the Home button and swipe the app up to close it.

Note: only force quit an app if it becomes unresponsive. It is unnecessary to consistently force quit all your apps, and it actually can decrease the functionality and performance of some apps.

Though it may look like the apps in the multitasking window are still running in the background, this is only accurate if Background App Refresh is enabled.

Background App Refresh

After you switch to a different app, some apps will run for a short time before they’re sent to a suspended state. When an app is suspended, it is not in use, open, or using your device’s resources.

Background App Refresh allows your appsimg_0011 to retrieve new data without the need to open them. That way, when you go back into an app, it’s refreshed with new content right away. This is beneficial if you utilize an app frequently, because it efficiently retrieves updated content and gets it ready for when you open it next. This will reduce refresh times when you reopen an app.

One example of Background App Refresh is Twitter: with this setting enabled, Twitter will periodically retrieve new tweets and notifications from your timeline and have them ready when you go back into the app. Another example is Uber: Background App Refresh will keep you current on your Uber’s location status while you’re waiting for it to arrive.

Note: if you force quit an app with Background App Refresh enabled, this feature may not work for that app until you open it again.

How does Background App Refresh affect battery life?

Background App Refresh is a great feature that enhances the iOS experience, and while it can drain a little extra battery, this drain is often insignificant – but the battery decrease might be more noticeable if you have the feature enabled for every app. Go through periodically and check which apps are using this feature (Settings > General > Background App Refresh). Most apps automatically enable this feature when installed.

As your battery gets older and its life cycle depletes, disabling this feature altogether may help you get by a little longer between charges. But on a newer battery, it rarely makes a difference whether it’s on or off.

Also, keep in mind that this will pull data from your WiFi or cellular connection, so if data consumption is a concern, maybe you should consider only enabling this feature for your most used apps.

In any case, you’re going to deplete your battery by using your device and you’re going to use data. Background App Refresh helps improve the efficiency of your daily device usage.