What is Background App Refresh on iPhone?

When using an app on your iPhone, iOS recognizes the app as “active”. When you switch to another app, press the Home button, swipe to the home page, or lock your iPhone, iOS pauses apps in the background.

Although suspended, some apps may still use your mobile data, Wi-Fi, and location/GPS services. But only if you allow them. In this article, we will explain what Background App Refresh is, along with how you can use it to manage apps using device resources in the background.

What is background app refresh?

Previously, only system apps and services could run in the background. Things changed with iOS 7 in 2013 — Background App Refresh was introduced. Apple has opened background access to third-party app developers and put end-users in the driver’s seat equally.

Allowing apps to run in the background comes with its benefits: You get new and updated content every time you open the app again. But there is the problem of draining battery and consuming too much data especially if you are on an internet plan with a data limit/limit.

Background App Refresh helps iPhone and iPad users solve these problems. If you find that your iPhone drains battery faster than usual, turning off background refresh can help.

Note: Background refresh only works for active apps that hang in the background. Closed apps or apps from which you exit the app launcher will not refresh their content, even if Background App Refresh is enabled for the app(s). You need to wait for a new app to open to refresh its content with updated information.

How to enable and disable background app refresh

Background App Refresh is enabled by default on iPhone and iPad. This means that suspended apps will always check for new content in the background. You can manage which apps use this background refresh feature by navigating to Setting > Shared > Background App Refresh.

Apple allows you to customize how Background App Refresh works based on the type of internet connection your device uses. You can configure apps to refresh their content in the background at all times (i.e. with Wi-Fi & Mobile Data) or just over a Wi-Fi connection. Option Turn off if you want to disable background refresh for all apps.

You can also disable background refresh for individual apps; just turn off the switch next to the app in the Background App Refresh settings menu.

Another way to enable background refresh for apps is to go to the app’s settings menu (Setting > App name) and turn on Background App Refresh.

If this option is grayed out, return to the Background App Refresh menu and make sure background refresh is enabled for Wi-Fi & Mobile Data. If background app refresh is still grayed out, skip to the next section for more solutions.

Refreshing grayed iPhone background apps? 2 ways to fix

If you are unable to enable Background App Refresh on your iPhone or iPad, we have compiled several possible solutions to the problem.

1. Turn off low power mode

Low Power Mode helps maximize your iPhone’s battery life by pausing apps and system processes that consume too much battery. Low Power Mode temporarily disables features like iCloud Photos, Background App Refresh, automatic downloads, live wallpapers, etc.

iOS automatically turns off Low Power Mode when you charge your phone to 80% or higher. You can also disable this feature manually from the Control Center or the settings menu. To disable Low Power Mode, open Control Center and tap yellow battery icon.

If the battery icon is missing in Control Center, go to Setting > Battery And off Low energy mode.

2. Turn off device usage time limit for background refresh

Screen Time has a privacy and content management section that allows you to prevent third parties from making unauthorized changes to your iPhone apps and settings. If you have a Screen Time limit on your iPhone, make sure that you haven’t blocked Background App Refresh. Here’s how to check.

1. Launch the iPhone Settings menu and select Used Time.

2. Select Content & Privacy Restrictions.

3. In the Allow Changes section, select Background app activity.

4. Select Allow and check if you can enable background refresh in settings menu.

Disable Background App Refresh?

Refreshing in the background can cause apps to quickly drain your iPhone’s battery, but that’s not always the case. Before disabling Background App Refresh, you should check which apps are working in the background and their individual impact on your iPhone battery.

Go Setting > Battery and scroll to App battery usage section. Click on any app in the list and you’ll find detailed information about the app’s background and desktop activity. Look closely at the list and check the background activity of each app.

If an app that you barely use is constantly running in the background for a long time, disable Background App Refresh for that app. From experience, disabling background refresh has not had any adverse effect on app performance or functionality. So you have nothing to worry about.

In addition to turning off background refresh, you can also extend your iPhone or iPad’s battery life by reducing screen brightness, using Low Power Mode, and turning off location for certain apps. If possible, use Wi-Fi at all times; Wi-Fi uses less power over cellular/cellular data networks.

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