Michael Ninh Michael Ninh - 1 year ago 147
iOS Question

Continue countdown timer when app is running in background/suspended

I have a functional countdown timer.

The problem is that I need to continue the countdown when the user puts the app in the background. Or suspends the app? I am not sure what the correct terminology is to describe this action.

In other words, the user opens the app and starts the countdown. The user should be able to use other apps but the countdown still operate. Also, the countdown should be able to run forever until it finishes or when the user terminates running the app.

Here is the code for my timer:

class Timer{
var timer = NSTimer();
// the callback to be invoked everytime the timer 'ticks'
var handler: (Int) -> ();
//the total duration in seconds for which the timer should run to be set by the caller
let duration: Int;
//the amount of time in seconds elapsed so far
var elapsedTime: Int = 0;
var targetController = WaitingRoomController.self

var completionCallback: (() -> Void)!

:param: an integer duration specifying the total time in seconds for which the timer should run repeatedly
:param: handler is reference to a function that takes an Integer argument representing the elapsed time allowing the implementor to process elapsed time and returns void
init(duration: Int , handler : (Int) -> ()){
self.duration = duration;
self.handler = handler;

Schedule the Timer to run every 1 second and invoke a callback method specified by 'selector' in repeating mode
func start(){
self.timer = NSTimer.scheduledTimerWithTimeInterval(1, target: self, selector: "onTick", userInfo: nil, repeats: true);

invalidate the timer
func stop(){
println("timer was invaidated from stop()")

Called everytime the timer 'ticks'. Keep track of the total time elapsed and trigger the handler to notify the implementors of the current 'tick'. If the amount of time elapsed is the same as the total duration for the timer was intended to run, stop the timer.

@objc func onTick() {
//increment the elapsed time by 1 second
//Notify the implementors of the updated value of elapsed time
//If the amount of elapsed time in seconds is same as the total time in seconds for which this timer was intended to run, stop the timer
if self.elapsedTime == self.duration {

println("timer was invalidated from deinit()")


Answer Source

What I suggest is cancel the timer and store a NSDate when the app goes to the background. You can use this notification to detect the app going to the background:

NSNotificationCenter.defaultCenter().addObserver(self, selector: "pauseApp", name: UIApplicationDidEnterBackgroundNotification, object: nil)

Then cancel the timer and store the date:

func pauseApp(){
    self.stop() //invalidate timer
    self.currentBackgroundDate = NSDate()

Use this notification to detect the user coming back:

NSNotificationCenter.defaultCenter().addObserver(self, selector: "startApp", name: UIApplicationDidBecomeActiveNotification, object: nil)

Then calculate the difference from the stored date to the current date, update your counter and start the timer again:

func startApp(){
    let difference = self.currentBackgroundDate.timeIntervalSinceDate(NSDate())
    self.handler(difference) //update difference
    self.start() //start timer
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