What does Background App Refresh mean on iOS 15 on iPhone?

As you might expect, iOS 15 has introduced a host of new features, ranging from privacy enhancements to lifestyle features that can truly make a difference. However, as always, iOS 15 is not making too dramatic of a difference in terms of core functionality, meaning the old familiar settings are still where they are supposed to be. Today, we will take a look at another old setting, which has a tangible impact on your iPhone. 

Now, without further ado let us check out what Background App Refresh means on iOS 15 and how you can use the feature. 

Related: Apple Pay Not Working on iOS 15? How to Fix in 5 Ways

What does Background App Refresh mean on iOS 15?

The Background App Refresh option has been on since the dawn of time and iOS 15 is no exception. When you turn on Background App Refresh, it simply allows the applications to refresh their content while they are in the background. When an app is in the foreground or right in front of you, it gets the complete attention of your device, meaning the data is refreshed right in front. 

However, when you use the app switcher to push the application to the background, another application takes its share of attention. Background App Refresh makes sure the app is not dead when pushed to the background and can give you valuable information when needed. It is to be noted that Background App Refresh is completely dependent on your WiFi connection or mobile data plan. If you do not have either, you will fail to make it work.  

Related: iOS 15 Alarm Not Working? How to Fix

What happens when you turn on Background App Refresh?

When you turn on Background App Refresh, the apps that are pushed to the background are allowed to keep their content fresh, up to date. That way, you will not need to worry about missed notifications and the apps will be able to continue to look for content that brings you back. 

On iOS 15, Background App Refresh is turned on by default and is necessary for almost all modern applications, especially if it depends on push notifications.

Related: iOS 15 Shortcuts Not Working: Issues and Possible Fixes Explained

How to turn off Background App Refresh on iOS 15 

If you do not have applications that benefit from Background App Refresh or you simply do not want to be disturbed while you are doing your thing, you could consider turning off background app refresh. Although not recommended, iOS 15 does give you the option to turn it off through Settings. 

To turn off Background App Refresh, first, go to Settings and tap on ‘General.’ Now, go to ‘Background App Refresh.’ At the top, you will see that ‘Background App Refresh’ is turned on. Tap on it and turn it ‘Off’ to disable the service for all applications.

Alternatively, if you want to disable it for a chosen few, you can toggle them off on the previous page itself. 

What happens when you turn off Background App Refresh on iOS 15?

When you turn off Background App Refresh, you are basically restricting the applications in your background from looking for new content when you leave the app. So, the applications that are dependent on live data will not work.

For example, if you have WhatsApp on your iOS 15 device and want it to give you timely messages, you must keep Background App Refresh on. If not, WhatsApp will only give you messages when the app is open, right in front of you. Other push messaging services also obey the same rule. 

Is Background App Refresh bad for your battery?

Since every iOS device considers Background App Refresh to be an essential part of the system, the battery wastage is well accounted for. However, it does not mean disabling it will not give you a slight bump in screen on or standby time. Turning off Background App Refresh is a great option when you are low on battery and want to last a little longer. Check out our guide above to turn off Background App Refresh on iOS 15. 

Additionally, you can toggle on ‘Low Power Mode’ to turn off Background App Refresh in an instant. 

Why is Background App Refresh greyed out on iOS 15? 

In certain situations, the Background App Refresh toggle is greyed out on iOS 15, meaning you will not be able to turn it on even if you wanted to. Here are a couple of reasons why it might be happening:

Low Power Mode

When you turn on Low Power Mode, Background App Refresh is turned off by default. So make sure you turn that off to give your apps the ability to refresh in the background. If your phone does not have enough juice, make sure to top it up.

Background App Activities Disabled

iOS 15 takes Screen Time seriously, which packs something called ‘Content & Privacy Restrictions.’ Inside it, there is a ‘Background App Activities’ section, which is required to be enabled first before you can turn Background App Refresh on. To enable, go to Settings > Screen Time > ‘Content & Privacy Restrictions’ > ‘Background App Activities’ and select ‘Allow’. After you take care of that, Background App Refresh will be back to normal. 


What are the benefits of Background App Refresh?

Background App Refresh is what allows your apps to keep themselves updated with the latest content. Without it, you will neither get notifications in time nor will you receive any real-time updates.

It can take a toll on your battery, but unless absolutely required, we do not recommend turning Background App Refresh on.

Why is Background App Refresh turned off?

Background App Refresh is turned off automatically when Lower Power Mode is engaged or the Background App Activities option is disabled. Make sure your phone has enough batter and the Background App Activities option is turned on. 

Should you keep Background App Refresh on for all apps?

No, for optimum peace of mind, you should only turn on Background App Refresh for applications that either depend on push notifications or require constant refreshes to get the latest information. You should turn off the option for Background App Refresh for other, unnecessary apps. Go to Settings > ‘General’ > ‘Background App Refresh’ > Toggle off unnecessary apps.


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A mediocre engineer hoping to do something extraordinary with his pen (well, keyboard). Loves Pink Floyd, lives football, and is always up for a cup of Americano.