Battery Saver vs Background Tasks
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Background tasks removed in Windows Phone 8.1? Nope, but they have changed

Ever since the arrival of the Preview for Windows Phone 8.1, we’ve been documenting frequent questions posed by you, the eager user. One of those topics deals with ‘Background tasks’ having been seemingly removed from the OS by Microsoft. But here’s a secret: it hasn’t.

The ability to control how programs behave in Windows Phone 8.0 was found under Settings > (swipe right) > Applications > background tasks. In that section, you could easily see which programs installed on your phone were doing things in the background e.g. checking for updates, or pushing Live Tile refreshes. It’s a useful tool used by many to help save on battery power. After all, if you have installed a few weather apps due to changing preferences, you don’t want all of them running at once!

In Windows Phone 8.1, many users are under the impression that this feature has been removed, but it has not. It has, however, changed, both in function and where it can be found.

Battery Saver Tile

Battery Saver is the new Background tasks

If you think about it, the number one reason most of you are diving into background tasks is because you are concerned with battery consumption. Perhaps you feel that some app is either draining too much battery (and you want to disable it from running in the background) or you just want to make sure you don’t have unnecessary apps doing things behind your back.

That’s the key here: battery. So with that pseudo mnemonic device, just associate background tasks with battery, ergo Battery Saver.

I detailed Battery Saver in our ginormous review of Windows Phone 8.1, but you may have overlooked the part. It’s been pulled out of Settings and given its own app listing. I even told you to pin to your Start screen for quick access and the super-cool Live Tile (the battery icon is dynamic, reflecting your actual battery level).

Battery Saver is where Background tasks now live, but it’s not obvious. There is no ‘background tasks’ section. Instead, users are given more control over each and every app. Here’s how:

Battery Saver (and background app control)

  1. Launch Battery Saver from app list
  2. Usage
  3. See ‘recent battery usage’ with app list
  4. Tap a particular app that you are interested in managing
  5. Enable or disable ‘Allow app to run in the background’

And that’s it. The old background tasks was a little easier to get a bird’s eye view of what is and is not running, but with Battery Saver in 8.1 you get much more fined grained control, in addition to actually seeing how much battery an app is using. That’s new, and that’s a great feature.

Likewise, you can now give an app coveted bypass status when Battery Saver is running. If you use the Battery Saver function (it disables background tasks when the battery level hits 20%), you can now allow specified apps to continue running. This means WhatsApp can run even while your phone is saving juice by restricting background-app function.

Specify which apps can override Battery Saver

  1. Launch Battery Saver from app list
  2. Usage
  3. See ‘recent battery usage’ with app list
  4. Tap a particular app that you are interested in managing
  5. Enable or disable ‘Allow this app to run in the background even when Battery Saver is on’

As you can see, Microsoft has not removed Background tasks, but the function has evolved (and changed location). Make the most of it and check to see which apps are using the battery, and which are not. Then make your adjustments.

Let us know what you think of the new function below in comments!

Need help with the Windows Phone 8.1 Preview? Head to our help forums where thousands of you are talking about it!

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Reader comments

Background tasks removed in Windows Phone 8.1? Nope, but they have changed

185 Comments

The reason notifications works is because they are running in the background if you turn it off you are turning off the notifications as well

I have no idea :o ,

when it was wp 8, I got notifications from apps even background task were blocked (such as whatsapp, intagram)

It seems it depends on the app but I think in WP 8.1 it needs to be on the background in order for the toasts to work as well

Depend on what kind of notification the apps use.

There is local notifications that are generate on the phone with a background task, like a meteo app that donwload every 30 minutes the meteo information and update the tile or show a toast.

And there are push notification that are send from a server, this push notification has nothing with background task. The OS receve the push notification and show it on live tile or show the toast, not the app that is completly closed and have no process in the background.

anyway, now in wp8.1 background agents and push notifications are both intended as "background", in fact now you can block those apps you weren't able to in 8.0... because you couldn't block push notifications with the previous version

But don't should be so...

I don't want that some apps run background task when i want only the push notification

Not so - twitter was never active as a background task on my phone under 8.0 - but I still received notifications.  After upgrading to 8.1, I now have to allow twitter to be a background task to receive notifications.

The new approach is therefore only partly a positive step - if the practical upshot is I need to allow more background tasks in order to keep getting notifications, then I would be concerned about what this means for battery life.

And this has nothing to do with periodic task and push notification.

On WP (from 7 to 8, andl also on WP8.1 but is litte bit complicated) an a background aget of an app can run only for 25 second, can't run continuosly

No, the push notification has noting to do with the background task.
And in WP8 you still receive push notification if you block the background task (try whit Whatsapp for exampe).
But in WP8.1 now when you block the app in backgorund you don't receive the push notification.
I think that the move is because now the push notification is able to launch a background task.
But i hope MS find a way to block the background task rised by push notification but still receive the notification itself like on WP8

This limit behavior is substantially different in 8.1.

In 8.0 you had an absolute limit - once you hit it, you needed to disable some tasks to enable new background tasks.

Now, once you hit this "soft" limit, apps can't automatically register for background tasks on their own (unless you disable some). However, you can manually enable them in Battery Saver above this soft limit.

For new apps, yes. (There is no system message and the app writer can decide how to handle BackgroundExecutionManager.RequestAccessAsync / BackgroundAccessStatus.Denied result.)

For old apps, no.

Actually, no, it's not logical.
WP architecture allows for an app to receive a push update without bg task running. I can confirm this since I had Whatsapp bg task turned off and I still received notifications.

I have it on now so I can't confirm notifications don't work anymore if BG task turned off. But if such is true it's an odd way to change the architecture (which was good since Whatsapp BG task only downloaded/uploaded images in the background if you sent an image and minimized the app while it still uploaded).

So did anyone try turning Whatsapp BG task off and see what happens or should I do it?

I tried it, and didn't get notifications once background task was disabled.

May have been a coincidence, or due to some other setting, of course.

Guys below are reporting both ways.

Anyways, I reckon that after disabling Whatsapp BG task on 8.0 the notifications went crazy. Sometimes they were delivered instantaneously, sometimes they got delayed for almost 2 hours. With BG task I think they were pretty much instantaneous. So the BG task may have something to do with them anyway (or maybe my testing period was just too short and fell into some MS "oops I did it again" period).

I think I'll have to test it now on my dearest to see what happens. I had almost all bg tasks disabled because 620 can't handle much bg tasks and if I went over limit, all of them stopped working. I'll see what happens next.

You cant have to test a lot, reed the official documentation of Microsoft:

here you can read ho push notification works on WP8 (on WP8.1 is the same):

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsphone/develop/ff402558(v=vs.105).aspx

As you can see there is an OS component (called Push Client Service) that recieve all the pusn notification for all the apps. So the apps aren't involved in the receiving process of the push notification.

In addition the PeriodicTask (that you can block in background task of WP8) can run only for 25 second.

 

You can find info about application lifecycle here

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsphone/develop/ff817008(v=vs.105).aspx

and about background agent here:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsphone/develop/hh202942(v=vs.105).aspx

 

In WP8.1 is more or less the same

Yes, I thought it would be so.

But alas, I turned off bg tasks for whatsapp and fb messenger and no notification came from either app. But I have since received messages on both of the apps so both should have notified me.. So it seems it is either broken or disabling bg task stops notifications as well.

In WP 8.1 yes I thins that the behavior is changet becouse in WP8.1 a developer can run a background agent sending a push notification to the phone.

So when arrive a push notification a trigger is fired and the background task start.

And for this reason i think that blocking the background task block also the push notification otherwise there is the risk that the background task is launched also if i block the app.

I think that Microsoft uses the same PushNotoficationTrigger in the system for to do all the system's stuff whit the push notification

Huh? Wait, are you suggesting this is a bug/bad code? 

If you turn off an apps background task then wouldn't you expect notifications to turn off too? 

No because of the acrhitecture of Windows Phone.

The push notifications have less to do withe bakground task.

But there is many apps that i don't want to run in background becouse i don't care about the staff that do in backgorund but i want to receive the push notification.

That's the way i use Onefootball (previusly named The Football App) that download the latest news with a background agent and update the live tile but i'm not interested about that so block the background task so i can reduce the power consumption, but i still receive the push notification of the scores

I would expect push notifications to still work seeing how its server-based. Disabling background tasks would just prevent the app from running at all in the background.

Bad coding, the app should be using push notifications where approprate. If it requires data fetching then yes that will be an appropriate use for backaground tasks. But as users we should be more aware of what a background task is necessary for. The developer is not always right.

Am I the only one that has battery saver still running even after I close it? Like if its open and I press the back button untill it closes like any app. But then if I hold down the back button to see the list of apps it is still running? Is it supposed to?????? Nokia L920

Even though I figured out how to change background settings, the past day or so I've still seen a little battery drain on my 1020 as well as some tasks seemingly still working in the background. Such as facebook messenger used to not give notifications, but now even though it is turned off in the background it still gives a toast?

Working in the background and sending toasts is not the same. Fpr example I deactivate Whatsapp in the background but still get my messages. Working in the background means that when the apps is open but not active (visible in the multitask view) it can still work on some stuff in the background. Toasts work even if the app isn't open at all.

That's how it was in WP 8.0.

In WP 8.1, I don't get notifications from WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger when the background task is disabled. 

It could be just a coincidence because on my side Facebook in enabled for background and it stopped sending me notifications last night. But the live tile still works... I think there is still a couple of bugs they need to fix.

No, you are completly wrong!

 

No one app can run in the background (exept fot GPS navigator) but an app can have a background agent (that in WP8.1 are calle now backgound task).

Working in background means that the background agent of the app can run and this happen every 30 minutes an for maximum 25 seconds. This is the only background agent that you are able to block in WP.

There is ahte background agent but it is launched when the app is running and are automaticaly stopped when its task is terminated (like a download in backgrund is terminated) and you can find the apps that use this kind of background (tha you can block) in the adevanced list of background task

Same here, I have 5 mailboxes setup and battery drain is terrible...phone says 2 hours left even though I turned off most unessential background tasks. Cortana might be the problem.

Just so you know some apps kill the battery in this preview. Had to use 500px as a small tile because it was killing me with the live tile. Battery saver showed me this and once I changed it my battery hasn't dropped but 8% (92%) in 6 hours. It did not have the option to disable background but changing it to the small tile did the trick. Hate it because it is a very appealing live tile with great pic updates.

i thought toast notifications is a setting within the app (which you can turn off or on) and has nothing to do with it running in the  background? example like the groupon app, is blocked in my background task but i still have toast notification still enabled in the app, so i still get toast alerts.

I'm loving these subtle changes that go a long way... I hope they can increase the number of apps able to run in the background without too much power consumption.

perhaps if varies by device. I received the OS warning at 30 backround tasks on my 1520.. then i went to diable several and I was all good. Again, beta, so who knows how consistent this will be.

Are we talking abou the number of apps "allowed to run in background"? I just went through and counted and I have like 70+ allowed...but for those that are not allowed - there is no option to allow them - so I guess maybe it is at its limit? And this also includes things like, Cortana, Quiet Hours and other MS things. I have a 1520 as well.

Ahhh...so having 70+ allowed apps? Is this possible - since the limit seems to 30? Or is my app is allowed = runs in background assumption wrong.

There is a soft limit on certain types of background tasks (you can manually enable apps above this soft limit). Allowed and the toggle switch doesn't necessarily mean it is one of those types.

Not working properly for some apps. I deactivated background tasks for "Series Maniac" a while back but would like to reactivate now, but in the battery app it says it's active but in the app it says it's not so I can't reactivate it now...

How do I pin battery saver to Start?

Update: Nevermind. I see that it's on the app list, not just in settings.

Der is notification problem after disabling apps from running in the background..... I've tried that earlier and notifications stopped working

Some apps seem to have problems with notifications since the update to 8.1. For example my Facebook live tile is working, but I stopped receiving toasts yesterday evening. I guess they still need to update some stuff.

I'm curious if you are using the Facebook BETA or the regular Facebook app?  I noticed that with only the Facebook BETA app the check in and posting appeared integrated.  When i installed the regular Facebook app it now bounces to the Facebook for posts and checkins.  Notification inconsistencies may be related to the version of Facebook app you are running.

I deleted the Beta app and installed the standard app when it told me to install the standard version to access a post from the people's hub. It worked fine for over a day but stopped toasting last night...

Important to note that the new background task limit is now 30, up from 15. I just hit the limit last night and then went through the battery app to prune some of the apps I wasn't actively using. I would rather there be no limit at all, even if there is now a noticible drain over the very limiting 15 we had before...but with a little micro management, you can get the drain back down to respectable levels. This is one of those features that could see quite a few changes as we near release though.

So it seems that Microsoft STILL defaults an app to run in the background rather than ask if you want the app to run in the background. I'm sure they still haven't fixed that if you have disabled an app to run in the background it re-enables itself when the app is updated. My concern is not for battery usage as it is for the issue of too many background tasks running eventually breaking the live tiles.  

yep, it auto-enables for sure. The re-enable after an update must be a bug if that is the case, so I'm sure we can expect a better experience after the preview.

Way too many steps involved in disabling one app. Previous implementation was miles easier. An average consumer will never find how to do it if some WPC users couldn't.

Yep... I think sd card access api has changed in 8.1 ... Sadly WhatsApp or other top apps wont utilize newer and powerful 8.1 APIs until the update is available for general public...

It's the only thing I don't like in 8.1! They complicated things for no reason. Before, I liked the way allowed tasks were at the top of the list. Now, I have to scrool everything to see what is allowed and what it's not.

Average consumers won't ever access this area. I wonder if any average consumers are visiting this site now???

Logically you should only worry about the ones that are hampering your battery. The top ten. Everything else with background tasks on our off one making any difference anyway

thank you my phone before the update would last almost 2 days with out a charge after i didnt even make it half way through work and it was dead

My biggest issue since moving to 8.1 on my Lumia 1020 is battery life seems to have halved... I'm having to carry a portable charger now to get through the day. The Nokia CR-201 Qi charger is worse than ever at charging i.e. It just cycles charge, no charge and USB charging now seems much slower? Anybody else with similar issues?

I haven't tried wireless charging but for me wall/usb charging seems to be faster on 8.1. Lumia 920. As for my battery, seems about the same. Will fine tune my settings though.

Mmm..Qi charging was never that consistent before, and the CR-201 has design issues when used with a L1020 (coils do line up properly). But is deffo worse now, probably needs firmware? Will stick to USB for a bit.

I have the same issue with 920. Something's draining my battery, as the phone is little warm all the time but I can't seem to figure out what it is. I've tried rebooting the phone a few times but it didn't help. The battery life has been great before the update but now I'm sitting at 77% after 2 hours with very light use.

Battery sense tells me it's the IE, but I have the BG task turned off for IE and really haven't been using it a lot. Is there a way you can reset the battery sense usage so I can start monitoring it again?

My battery has actually been pretty good... I'd imagine a restart or soft reset would reset the battery sense? Hold Volume down + power button.

Yes, same here... Tried power cycles and soft reset (power+volume down) no change.. Hope for fix or even Nokia Firmware when 8.1 is general release to solve!

I've noticed the battery drain on my 920 too. It appears to me that the heat issue appears to be when I am actively using bluetooth.

I haven't noticed that on my 1020 yet. I did noticew that there was an update for Glance. Are you using Glance? When you go to the Glance settings, you should have gotten a message telling you to reboot the phone. I suspect it would have something to do with one of your apps behaving badly. I will be monitoring my battery status as well.

 

@Kittyburgers, yeah did update Glance and yes, I'm using it... Seems Cortana is the biggest battery thief accord to Battery Sense at over 50% followed by IE. Seems a few others have this same issue. I might switch back to UK English and turn her off for a bit till GB English is supported in the future. Thanks for suggestions everyone :D .

confirmed on 1020 as well, need to charge phone every 4 hours under normal usage just email and web browsing vs over 12 hours before I upgraded to 8.1. Hopefully Nokia will release a patch or something soon...

The option to manage all apps are not there, meaning one can tap an app and there are no options - for example the TAPATALK app.

Any idea why they're no options to prevent that app from working in the background?

Ahah, I don't know about Tapatalk, but I know apps like Whatsapp even if you deactivate background tasks it will still get toast notifications when you receive a message and then when you click on the notification and open the app it automatically updates with the new messages.

ESPM ScoreCenter doesn't have any options. I'm guessing this is why my live tile hasn't updated in a month. Which is weird because it used to work all the time up until about a month ago.

In my case (Lumia 920) more than half apps has no options to prevent app from working in the background (camera, internet explorer, here maps, skype, store). Even worse is that these apps constantly shows the maximum run in the background.  

Aye, most of my apps don't have any options but if they are allowed to ruin in the background they will have a grey "allowed" under the name - apparently - so at lest we can tell... Although even if an app is off it may still receive toast notifications...

I'm liking this Battery Sense. Alot more info on usage. I also like the option to run certain apps while in Power Saving mode. Which is useful for Whatsapp!

I understand that, but according to the article the live tile is also supposed to show percentage, and mine doesn't.

Oh, wow, you are right. Thank you for pointing that out. My brain interpreted it the wrong way. Interesting.

I noticed it yesterday and went crazy blocking apps updating in the back ground or even vibrating and sending notification.
Finally Windows Phone has arrived. I just hope Microsoft has some really cool/killer Ads to go Nuclear when 8.1 finally drops.

Ah sweet thanks! everything is so different now lol. Anyone seeing live tile problems? I would assume I am having them because I switched to the 3 wide

A question for you advanced, professional users. If live tile and toasts are turned off, will notifications still be sent to the notification center?

Yeah.. Assuming you turned on "show in action centre" option for that app... You can turn off banners so that you wont toasts... Toasts now called banners... Unpinning tile turns off live tiles ;)

Thanks for the response. Makes sense.

I was referring to the settings in the application where you can turn on/off toasts and live tile notifications. So I take it if I turn both off in the application's settings, but make sure "show in action center" is on in action center settings all should be good.

Thanks again!

Removing the background tasks from settings is one of the worst changes introduced in WP8.1

If I have too many apps installed and I don't know which one runs in the background, I have to tap on each app to figure out if it has background controls rather than seeing all background apps in one screen.

I can't believe you had people pinging you saying background tasks have been remove......Are these people really technical???

There doesn't appear to be a way to reset the battery usage stats so you can pinpoint the application that is swallowing your battery life. Do these usage stats ever "reset"? It seems to accumulate, even after a full charge or reboot. That isn't particularly useful.

I'm missing the ability to turn the background task back on by opening the app.  It made switching between a certain category of app (ie using cal, then switching to chronos calendar) much easier.

It's pretty neat bur needs some time to get used to.

On a side note, Dan, have you heard any official news from Microsoft if Data connection toggle will come to the Action center once the official OS update rolls out? Thanks a bunch.

I'd like to know if/when this going to happen as well. Not a deal breaker since I turn wifi on when I get home or near known networks, but would be nice to have the option.

I love the new background agent. They can run in the background in real time and it doesn't consume too much battery. Has anyone tried clock hub yet?

Using 8.1 in my nokia Lumia 520 and its draining my phones battery so fast...plz help..! Using every settings to save my bttry bt its dieing

Actually is not the same. I have some apps that were blocked before the update and it doesent matter that I did enabled it in 8.1 it still reporting that it is blocked. (Re-Install was the only workaround I did figureout)

In my case (Lumia 920) more than half apps has no options to prevent app from working in the background (camera, internet explorer, here maps, skype, store). Even worse is that these apps constantly shows the maximum run in the background.  

I miss the BG task description from 8.0 . That way I knew what the BG task was doing and whether I needed it or not. Now I'm only guessing.

Off topic, Data Sense used to show just how much data each app used, even breaking it down to show WiFi versus Mobile Network usage. Has anyone been able to find this feature in 8.1 or has it been removed totally..?

I think there is at least 15% more battery drain on 8.1 on L920. Backgrounds is not really helping. Will there be any updates to fix battery draining

The battery saver live tile is a bit redundant as it's now constantly displayed. I would have preferred if it switched to a percentage when minimised fully, like the older version. (which I still use for that reason.) At least make it flip with the percentage. 

Just my two you-know-whats. 

Does this mean I can run loads and not worry about them all stopping?

Previously in 8, when you had too many running (a number we didn't know) then they would all break

It's a good change... but I miss the specific information that used to show up explaining what the background task for each app would do/ what would happen if you disabled the background task. Now it's just a generic information blurb that "Turning this off will disable some app features, but can increase battery life."

Very useful article. Turns out I had a lot of apps running background tasks after that monster update of apps and games yesterday and it was ruining my battery life. Keys see if the battery lasts longer tomorrow. THX!

All my live tiles doesnt work anymore????? Nothing is changing, no counts...ive 15 apps enable in battery saver. Reseted the phone then normal restart and nope nothing. Gf's 920 is all good. I reallllly dont know what could cause that i have tried everything. It was fine yesterday. Anyone have the same problem?

I would like it if I could override the Data Sense settings like this. Email doesnt even come through when its on and I cant find anywhere to change it.

I don't like how they changed the battery saver icon to a shield. I much prefered the heart! Like the phone is in heart mode, life support!

This new Background Tasks/Battery Usage of Windows Phone 8.1 is not very helpful at all. I just want the PUSH NOTIFICATIONS and not the LIVE TILE background tasks on some apps but there's no way to disable only the LIVE TILE task as turning off the background task will also disable push notifications.

There are also background tasks listed that doesn't make any sense like Calendar and Battery Saver. What happens when you turn off background task for Calendar? Battery Saver? Will your calendar live tile not updated anymore? if you turn of background task for battery saver does it mean there's no battery saver anymore?

After going into battery saver mode, notifications stop and does not turn back on even though I am recharging the phone. Gmail, whatsapp, and some games fail to update or deliver notifications. 

Whats wrong?, when I touch the battery saver icon nothing happens!!

Any one with the same problem? I have the newly released 8.1 installed...

 

// Ville

There is no ability to disallow Facebook messenger to run in background with latest app update?! Anyone else occurs this issue? I am on WP 8.1 Developer Preview and I had "enable"/ "disable" switch for Messenger in previous version. App sucks!

Hi,
I turned off most of the applications that are running in background, except for Cortana (always allowed). However, after doing so...Cortana is no longer reading my incoming text messages. The read incoming text messages is 'always on' in the speech menu. I tried to turn on the same app that i have disabled, but it is still not working. Please help...any idea. L1520

I cant get the options of managing when i go to the battery saver and tap on an app.. all i get is its running in the background. Dont see the option to manage it. Please help.