Facebook does not have the greatest track record with its Android app. Users have long complained about performance issues and it sucking up battery and last year Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, took the unusual step of making his staff ditch their iPhones and move to Android until they sorted out the issues.
But the problems have remained, and recently they led the Android blogger Russell Holly to dump the app, starting a chain reaction which revealed something rather interesting about the app’s performance. Prompted by Holly’s revelation that life on Android was better without Facebook’s app, Reddit user pbrandes_eth tested the app’s impact on the performance of an LG G4.
They found that when the Facebook and Facebook Messenger apps were uninstalled, other apps on the smartphone launched 15% faster. They tested 15 separate apps, and documented the findings, leading other reddit users to test other devices. They found similar results when testing for app loading performance.
After reading Holly’s piece, I had also decided to explore other options for accessing Facebook, to see if, rather than app loading, I could improve my smartphone’s battery life.
I left the Facebook Messenger app installed, but swapped the Facebook app for an app called Metal, which acts as a wrapper for Facebook’s mobile site. Over the course of a day my Huawei Nexus 6P had 20% more battery. This was true on average for every day for the week tried.
In Metal I was using the same notifications and accessing the same features as I had just a week earlier through the Facebook app, so why the difference?
Despite the Facebook app not showing up as using a significant amount of power within Android’s built-in battery statistics, it was evidently consuming more power in the background than it needed to.
It turned out other Android services including Android system and Android OS showed reduced battery consumption when the Facebook app was uninstalled. Those services act as a buffer for many apps to the outside world when running in the background. So while Facebook didn’t look like it was using that much power, it was actually just being displayed elsewhere in Android’s statistics.
So, uninstalling the Facebook app saves both battery and speeds up Android phones, it seems. Obviously, it may be less convenient not to have the apps, but there are several substitutes that allow you to access the mobile site within a wrapper, like Metal that I used.
Alternatively, you can simply use Facebook within Chrome on an Android phone: recent updates have enabled notifications for actions, chats and other features from Facebook even in the background, meaning the experience is very similar to using an app.
Either way, until Facebook improves its Android app, ditching it could save you 20% of your battery life a day, and speed up your phone.