iOS Multitasking Management Myth Debunked [video]

All those apps in the multitasking bar on your iOS device are currently active and slowing it down, filling the device’s memory or using up your battery. To maximise performance and battery life, you should kill them all manually – one of those basic tips, everybody believes and spread it around. Turns out it’s not true…

iPad education proponent Frasier Speirs had an interesting post on his blog which corrected several misconceptions about iOS multitasking. The post explained thoroughly why killing all of the applications running in your iOS device’s multitasking tray is a fool’s errand.

The iOS multitasking bar does not contain “a list of all running apps”. It contains “a list of recently used apps”. The user never has to manage background tasks on iOS.

There are five sections to this video demonstrating:

  • An app going from active to background to suspended
  • Instacast HD requesting extra background time to finish a podcast download
  • TomTom running indefinitely in the background
  • Batman Arkham City Lockdown and Real Racing 2 HD competing for big chunks of device memory
  • Batman Arkham City Lockdown forcing several smaller apps out of memory

Quick summary:

  1. If someone tells you that all the apps in the multitasking bar are running, using up memory or sucking power, they are wrong.
  2. When you hit the home button, an app moves from Active to Background and quickly to the Suspended state where it no longer uses CPU time or drains power.
  3. An app may request an additional 10 minutes of Background running to complete a big task before becoming Suspended.
  4. If memory is becoming scarce, iOS will automatically move Suspended apps into the Not Running state and reclaim their memory.
  5. Five classes of apps – audio, GPS, VOIP, Newsstand and accessory apps – and some built-in apps such as Mail may run indefinitely in the background until they complete their task.

The iPad in this video is an original iPad running iOS 5.0.1. All the apps used are the current versions at the time of posting this video. Killing apps manually is fine as a troubleshooting step but it shouldn’t be part of your daily routine.

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