Following claims late last year that the iOS Facebook app was draining iPhone batteries, a new flood of similar reports is circling the web, this time concerning Android phones.
Of most concern is the repeated assertion that, on some phones, merely having Facebook installed was not only eating away a large chunk of battery but was also making other apps slow to open and hurting overall performance.
The problem is complicated by the fact that — unlike the iOS app — Facebook never appears very high on the list of power-hogging apps you can find in your phone's settings. However, the tests from Holly and others showed removing the Facebook apps resulted in a drop in the power consumption of some Android system services, indicating Facebook was having a negative impact on the battery and memory resources indirectly.
Tech writer Russell Holly over at Android Central decided to run an experiment by ditching the app from his phones altogether, and he discovered that the performance issues he had been experiencing went away entirely.
Not only that, but he found that his replacement of choice — using Facebook's mobile site in the Chrome browser — provided a better experience.
"The UI is quite similar to the app, and Chrome for Android is fast enough that things like scrolling performance and load times for photos wasn't all that different either", writes Holly.
"[...] and I still had the ability to switch accounts when I wanted to check in on the Android Central Facebook page."
Clicking links from Facebook mobile opens new tabs in Chrome instead of using the app's own weird browser (although you don't get Instant Articles on mobile), and you don't have to put up with autoplaying videos. If you opt in, Chrome will even send you notifications the same way Facebook does.
Samuel Gibbs at The Guardian chose to replace the Facebook app with Metal, a wrapper that turns Facebook's mobile site into a light app. Gibbs reports that over the course of a week the battery on his Nexus 6P lasted an average of 20 per cent longer.
Reddit user pbrandes_eth used his own benchmarking app to perform some tests, concluding that ditching both the Facebook and Facebook Messenger app in favour of the browser version made apps on his LG G4 load an average of 15 per cent faster.
Speaking to UK tech site IT Pro, a Facebook spokesperson said the company was aware of the reports.
"We have heard reports of some people experiencing speed issues stemming from our Android app", the spokesperson said.
"We are looking into this and will keep [users] posted. We are committed to continuing to improve these issues."