Family Sharing may be draining your iPhone’s battery

BatteryIconXIf your iPhone is suddenly not holding its charge, then the problem may be stemming from the use of Apple’s Family Sharing service.

Being a fairly generic problem, battery drain on an iPhone can happen from a number of different reasons, and while potential causes include worn out or damaged batteries not being able to hold a charge, this generally progresses over time and is more prevalent with older devices.

For the most part, your iPhone should last about one to two days before requiring charging, and on standby it should only use a trickle of power, but some users like MacIssues reader Joe C. have found that after a night of just being on standby, their phones will be left with minimal charge. Joe states, “I used to be able to charge my iPhone every-other day, but now if I leave the phone unplugged overnight with 70+% of charge left, it’s at 7% the next morning!”

This issue may survive a number of troubleshooting attempts, such as turning off background refresh services, quitting programs, and turning off eye-candy settings like the parallax view on the home screen (aka, the “Reduce Motion” option in the Accessibility settings) that may use a little more processing power on average. In addition, disabling some of the more power-hungry services like bluetooth and Wi-Fi networking, as well as dimming the display does not seem to affect this level of battery drain.

In Joe’s case, the problem persisted even after fully wiping and reinstalling iOS on his phone, but after a little investigation he found disabling Family Sharing on his device caused the battery drain to disappear. This has been found to be the case for a number of other iPhone users.

This problem could be from interaction with any of Apple’s cloud services that are part of Family Sharing, but also could simply be an inherent flaw in iOS from the use of a buggy networking service called “discoveryd” that Apple has used in the latest versions of both OS X and iOS. On the Mac, discoveryd has been suspected as the cause for persistent network drop-outs, high CPU usage, and battery drain on laptops, and since this service is used in iOS 8, it is possible it is the root of similar problems on this platform.

Apple has recently indicated it is working on this issue, by replacing discoveryd with the older mDNSResponder service in the latest OS X 10.10.4 preview releases, so if this issue is from problems with the discoveryd service, we may see a fix come by way of an iOS update. Until then, you have a couple of options if this problem is occurring, which are to turn off Family Sharing if you do not use it, or more specifically try turning off individual Family Sharing services (i.e., Calendar, Photos, etc.). You can then turn these back on to see if merely restarting them fixes the issue. However, overall if the problem persists, then you will have to either tolerate it for now, or disable the service altogether.

One thought on “Family Sharing may be draining your iPhone’s battery

  1. darrenoia

    One *really* irritating thing about Apple’s cloud services, whether iTunes Match or iCloud Photos, or Family Sharing, is that when you turn them off, you wipe out your data. Turn off iTunes Match and turn it back on a second later, and your phone will tell you it’s wiping out all your music. Anything you’ve downloaded will have to be downloaded again. Turn off iCloud Photos, as I accidentally did yesterday, and your machine will start re-uploading all 25,000 photos you have — again (this isn’t just a check/sync — I’ve seen the data upstream flowing in Activity Monitor). And I just turned off Family Sharing and toggled it back on only to find that it doesn’t remember who my family members were.

    Apple needs a “suspend” toggle for any iCloud services rather than “off.”


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