We don't live under a rock here at Android Police, so of course, we were following Apple's WWDC conference yesterday. The company announced a whole slew of intriguing stuff, including the iOS (and iPadOS 13) beta — the latest iteration of Android's competition. In it, there's an interesting addition: a new background tasks API that could allow apps like Google Photos to finally, finally, finally reliably sync without using a foreground activity.
Interesting new API called BackgroundTasks in iOS 13.
Allows you to schedule a task and launch it in background. pic.twitter.com/6nggOPmdLj
— Tanmay (@tanmays) June 3, 2019
You see, iPhones are known for their stellar standby battery life, mainly because iOS heavily restricts anything that wants to run in the background. Apple has opted for a different tradeoff to Google – while the former values predictable battery life, the latter values reliable background services. Therefore, Apple users always have to manually relaunch apps that are supposed to sync in the background, with developers going as far as sending notifications reminding people to do just that. Lately, though, Google has been moving towards restricting background activities to improve Android's standby time, shifting its priorities.
Apple's BackgroundActivities API will allow scheduled background activities to run as long as they only take a couple of minutes to complete. Additionally, longer tasks can be postponed until the device is connected to an outlet and a stable internet connection. This is great news for Google Photos, which should be able to make use of the new API to improve the reliability of its backup process. It also has implications for other Google apps like Drive and Maps, which could be able to sync files and offline map data in the background.
Hopefully, we'll soon be able to recommend Google Photos to our iPhone-using friends without fearing they might lose pictures due to Apple's restrictive software.