Extending an iPad’s battery life comes in handy when on the road or traveling. Here’s how to tweak background activity to extend its use.

Battery charge status set, accumulator indicator image
Image: iStockphoto/VikiVector

The battery on an 8.3-inch iPad mini, 10.2-inch iPad, 10.9-inch iPad Air and 11-inch iPad Pro can provide up to 10 hours of power when browsing the internet or watching videos, according to Apple. When you’re out in the field or traveling, you may find your iPad’s battery doesn’t last as long. But, a few quick adjustments can improve your iPad’s battery life.

Disable Background App Refresh

In addition to lowering an iPad’s screen brightness and disabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, if you can, another step you can take to improve iPad battery life is to disable as many applications as possible from updating by themselves. Known as Background App Refresh, the process permits installed applications to continually check for new information, refresh themselves and download updates.

The advantage of Background App Refresh is that iPad applications will present current information immediately upon opening when the feature is enabled, whereas a slight delay might result when opening the app without the feature. The disadvantage is the iPad uses energy—battery power when not connected to an electrical outlet—to check for, download and load the corresponding updates.

SEE: Get a refurbished iPad Pro for 17% off (TechRepublic Academy)

Uninstall unused or unnecessary applications

It’s natural to install many applications on an iPad over time, so much so that available storage can become problematic. Another disadvantage of installed applications, especially those you don’t use, is that these applications may be continually checking for updates and downloading new information in the background, even though you no longer use that app or need the information it’s working to maintain.

Good maintenance habits prescribe periodically removing unneeded programs, so hopefully that issue is already addressed on your iPad.

Configure application background activity permission

Assuming you’re maintaining only needed apps, the next step to preserving battery life is to review the background activity permission setting for each app.

Despite possessing strong preferences for systems, procedures and orderliness, I’ve found myself repeatedly surprised at how apps accumulate. As a result, their corresponding settings—including for notifications, which also consume battery life, and background activity—add up and, subsequently, adversely impact how long I can go before seeking a power outlet or connecting to a portable power bank.

How to change background activity settings on an iPad

Fortunately, Apple makes it easy to confirm and change background activity settings on an iPad. On the iPad, tap Settings > General > Background App Refresh (Figure A).

Figure A

iPad General settings menu
Figure A: Access an iPad’s Background App Refresh settings using the device’s Settings menu.

From the Background App Refresh settings, you can choose to disable such activity altogether. Just slide the Background App Refresh radio button to off from on (Figure B).

Figure B

ipad background app refresh settings menu
Figure B: Background App Refresh can be disabled altogether, or you can selectively disable specific applications from checking for and downloading updates in the background using a WiFi connection.

Alternatively, you can individually disable the option for installed applications. Simply slide the radio button to the left for the corresponding app to disable Background App Refresh. To make it even easier to spot the enabled setting, radio buttons are set to on display as green, whereas the disabled settings display as gray.

When traveling or working from the road, disable the app refresh option for as many installed programs as you can. You should find the iPad’s battery runs longer, especially when minimizing background activities is part of such other steps like disabling Wi-Fi (if possible) and lowering screen brightness.