x PhoneArena is looking for new authors! To view all available positions, click here.
  • Home
  • News
  • Here's the most common misconception about iOS multitasking

Here's the most common misconception about iOS multitasking

Posted: , by Victor H.

Tags:

Here's the most common misconception about iOS multitasking
Ever since iOS got multitasking in version 4.0, many have complained that it’s not the “real” multitasking we see on other mobile platforms and most fingers are usually pointed at Android as an example. It’s true that the way Apple has implemented multitasking is different, and it’s also true that the majority of users would agree that it’s very elegant. There’s one misconception about the way it works, though, that keeps popping up and you can even hear it from Apple “Geniuses.” 

The tip that is often wrongly given is that you need to delete apps from your multitasking bar to free up memory. So for example if your phone has a ton of apps listed in the multitasking bar on the bottom, the wrong suggestion is that it’d get bogged down and you need to go and manually remove apps to free up memory. Mac and iOS developer Fraser Speirs clarifies:

“Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. There are caveats to this but anyone dispensing the advice above is clearly uninformed enough that they will certainly not be aware of these subtleties.”

Why is it wrong, though? Digging deeper into the way iOS handles multitasking, you’d notice that there are five states in which apps are:

  • Not running - terminated app or one that’s never been launched.
  • Inactive - in the foreground but not receiving events
  • Active - the usual state of an app when it’s been used
  • Background - the app is not on the screen but still executing code
  • Suspended - the app is not on the screen, it’s still resident in memory but not executing code

Now, here’s the crux of iOS multitasking. When you hit the home button on your iOS device, the application goes from Active to Background. Then in a matter of seconds, it usually jumps from Background to Suspended, so it’s not using processing power, but it’s still in the memory.

You shouldn’t worry about that, though, because if you happen to launch another memory intensive application, iOS will automatically understand that it needs all the memory that it can have and will kill apps into Not running state.

You don’t need to manually delete anything because iOS handles this for you and that’s the beauty of iOS multitasking.

What’s even more important - what you see in the multitasking bar is not a list of running applications. It’s a list of most recently used apps, which could be inactive (Not running).

So bottomline is, you don’t need to bother clearing apps from the multitasking bar. Apple has already taken care of this, and you’d be just wasting your time. There are some exceptions in very rare cases, but in the general case, you’d be fine not caring for the multitasking bar. Hit the source link below for the brilliant and detailed explanation of Fraser Speirs.


82 Comments
  • Options
    Close




posted on 05 Jan 2012, 02:40 11

1. clevername (Posts: 1428; Member since: 11 Jul 2008)


Annnndd......go!

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:40

12. SlimSoulja86 (Posts: 642; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)


LOL, hehehehehe

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:53

15. Doakie (Posts: 1231; Member since: 06 May 2009)


I followed all the way back to Frasier's original blog post to read his original work, his writing style makes me imagine he has the voice and accent of that "snooty" or "snotty" host in Ferris Buelers Day Off. So much smug that it could cause health issues.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 02:54 11

2. Crossblade (Posts: 190; Member since: 21 Apr 2005)


Actually iOS and Android are rather similar in multitasking. They both are the new 21st century implementations of multitasking, unlike what people are used to using on Windows PCs.

http://www.androidcentral.com/ram-what-it-how-its-used-and-why-you-shouldnt-care

Don't force close apps. The OS does this for you.

p.s. I believe Windows Phone 7 multitasking is also similar

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:02 3

3. dian283 (Posts: 3; Member since: 10 Dec 2011)


Hmm... But what about Nokia? Maybe in ^3, Anna, Belle... Are they have the real multitasking?

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:52 12

14. -RVM- (Posts: 329; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


Symbian has real multitasking for many years.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:26 23

4. flopjoke (Posts: 42; Member since: 05 Jan 2012)


So basically it isn't "real" multitasking at all.

Yes, it saves memory in an intelligent way, but the whole idea of multitasking is that when you hit the home button, the apps are still running and you're able to run more than one app at the same time. If it kills app to make room for heavier apps, that's not multitasking at all, is it?

If the bottom bar is "a list of most recently used apps", why did Apple tell people it's "multitasking"? Oh yeah, it's Apple.

So it's not "real multitasking", it's just "better handling of memory".

Which is exactly what everyone has been saying. So there's no point of this post at all.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:35 2

6. SlimSoulja86 (Posts: 642; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)


Thumbs up

#AppleFanWithDaDifference

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:39 18

10. SlimSoulja86 (Posts: 642; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)


I think he was trying to defend Apple but I bet you iFans (I'm not included here) will go, "You see we told you, iPhones does a real multitasking", lol, only blind Apple fans will think it's doing the real deal, while this Article clearly states that it's not a real multitasking.

#OnlyStupidiFansWillBelieveEverythingAppleSay

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 05:25 8

20. E.N. (Posts: 2277; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


Multitasking means doing more than one thing at the same time, in which case this most definitely is multitasking. If you can upload a video or process an image in the background without using the same memory and battery as having the entire application running, why in the world is that a bad thing and how is that not multitasking? Is it because the OS is being more efficient? Apple's multitasking is "untraditional" but its still "real".

Like I've said before, if Apple wanted to multitask like Android, it would have been much easier. They'd just needed to allow the OS to keep all recent applications fully running. Apple's method of multitasking is much harder and actually requires extra coding. Why go through all the trouble of suspending, freezing, low state of memory, jumping from this state to that, etc if there wasn't a better end result (common sense guys, come on).

And you really need to read the post for what it is saying. This post is not about real vs. fake or Apple vs. Android like you're forcing it to be. The point of this entire article is: "So bottom-line, you don’t need to bother clearing apps from the multitasking bar" and thats it. This is more of a tip for iPhone users than anything else. So there actually IS a point to this article but isn't a point to your comment. Read the article next time, fanboy.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 07:04 10

24. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


EN,
The iphone has very limited use multitasking. If you want to make the excuse that it multitasks because it can "load a video in the background", then yay for you. The term "multitasking" in general use means the ability to run multiple programs without caveats on what it is.. like android or old school windows phones.
Its a trade off. You want the buttery smoothness of iOS you are going to lose functionality. You want the functionality of Android you are going to lose a little smoothness.
Then again there was that article a few weeks ago that said iOS is programmed to give first priority to "scrolling" and to quick pause everything to keep it smooth at all times. Kind of silly, really.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 07:36 2

28. Crossblade (Posts: 190; Member since: 21 Apr 2005)


remixfa, can you give an example of multitasking the iOS cannot do?

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 08:14 12

31. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


"What’s even more important - what you see in the multitasking bar is not a list of running applications. It’s a list of most recently used apps, which could be inactive (Not running)."

It spells it out in the article. Its been spelled out a dozen times before.

On my neat SGS1, i can be...
wireless streaming a video over to my tablet from my phone,
while on a phone call,
while surfing the web,
then use a cheat i found on the web to flip to a game and play it,
pause the game (since some still run in the background without pausing),
flip back to the web to double check that cheat,
open up a new browser window or 3 and tab between them,
hang up the call,
go turn on some music,
flip back to the game,
all while downloading updates in the background wirelessly. and not losing a single spot on my game or any changes to any programs... and yes, while still watching that movie on my tablet that ive been streaming the whole time from the phone.. wirelessly.

Good luck doing that on an iphone.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 08:36 2

33. jacko (unregistered)


yep just the other night i was on the phone hit home button then into market when shared app which took me to text messaging then sent link for app then i when back to the phone call and the apps i used was still in the background after the call

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 11:16 2

55. gallitoking (Posts: 4684; Member since: 17 May 2011)


I bet you use wi-fi..right?.... besides why would you want to do al that.. ( be on a call/playing a game and look for the cheat on the web)... dude just calm down take care of the call and play the game while taking a d*mp.... and last .. dont use cheat... thats the beauty of the game....

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 18:31

72. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


lol, so your reply to limited functionality is to just.. not want to multitask?

"if you keep yourself from WANTING to do more than one thing at once, then you wont notice that you CANT"
lolol

some of us just cant think that slow man. my brain is always going on 2 or 3 different things at a time. ... or that could be the massive amounts of coffee.. who knows. :)

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 08:33 2

32. Evil_SaNz (Posts: 258; Member since: 20 Oct 2011)


Like converting an audio file in background and jump between internet tabs without safari reloading them each time you select them.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 09:49

41. iSexy (Posts: 2; Member since: 21 Dec 2011)


Jumping between tabs ? Without reloading ? Really?

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 09:54 2

42. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


does the iphone actually have to reload the page when you switch tabs??????? omg.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 10:05

43. iamcc (Posts: 1319; Member since: 07 Oct 2011)


It's been too long since I had an iPhone I can't remember.. but I would hope not.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 10:07

45. clevername (Posts: 1428; Member since: 11 Jul 2008)


No the iphone hasn't had to reload tabs since the iphone 3g. And that was due to limited ram. And except for the streaming video part the iphone can do everything in your example.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 10:39 2

50. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


ok, show me a video proving that please. :)

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 11:30

59. clevername (Posts: 1428; Member since: 11 Jul 2008)


If i still had my iphone i would :-) but if you find a friend with an iphone go play with one you'll see. See for yourself.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 18:32 1

74. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


they all say "yea, i bet i could", yet none of them ever show me.

sounds like a lot of bluster and huff-n-puff to me.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 14:52

68. E.N. (Posts: 2277; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


Oh yeah, I can do everything you said using less processing power and therefore maintaining a better battery life, which was the entire point of the implementation. If that list was a real attempt at finding the limitations of iOS multitasking, then you failed miserably, lol. Thanks for reconfirming the fact that I'm not missing out anything using iPhone's multitasking.

But I still can't get over the fact that you needed a video to prove that. You definitely live in an android box. That's like me asking for proof that you can play flash games with android. Old news buddy!

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 18:34 1

75. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


i hear more bluster, but i have yet to ever see it in action. pull it off with proof please. Its physically impossible on an iphone. If your going to argue the point at least be knowledgable about the point you are arguing.

BTW, I normally get about 1.5-2 days of battery per charge with moderately heavy use. How often does that i4s get charged?? lolol
The battery quips are even OLDER news.. and.. this news is actually TRUE :)

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 18:31

73. actura (Posts: 8; Member since: 15 Nov 2011)


i don't think so,but app (other than apple apps) may start up from begining
maybe to prevent any lags on iOS

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 15:23

69. Whateverman (Posts: 3191; Member since: 17 May 2009)


That freakin' reloading pages on Safari is a pain in the a$$! +1 to Evil_SaNz.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 07:53

30. iSexy (Posts: 2; Member since: 21 Dec 2011)


Yeap I want to know an example too

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 11:32

60. iami67 (Posts: 318; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


Dear E.N. according to what you just said. " multitasking means doing more then one thing at the same time, in which case this most definitely is multitasking" Did i read a diferent article then you. Are we on the same page here. He clearly just said you are not doing more then one thing at a time and that the phone turns the other things off. How is that doing more then one thing at once please explain. This just shows me why people make fun of iphone users because they have no concept of anything.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 14:00 1

66. E.N. (Posts: 2277; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


the phone puts the application into the frozen state but the services are still being done. For example, I can make a movie in iMovie and when I'm done editing, I can make a phone call, stream videos from youtube, play a game (and have my exact spot saved each and every time I switch out), upload a video to youtube, download an update/music (without being stuck on any screen), etc..... all while the video is being processed in the background. This is multitasking, carrying out multiple functions at the same time. Multitasking is not defined as having more than one application fully running in the background.

And remixfa, everything you listed can be done. Even then streaming video part like youtube or a video from a website. If you really don't think the iPhone doesn't do those things, then wow your opinion of iOS is quite a bit dated.

I'm not speaking out of my a** when I say that you can do the exact same things give or take. It's actually true.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 18:37 1

76. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


lol, u didnt read.

i said streaming a video FROM MY PHONE TO MY TABLET.. watching that video on my tablet from the streaming.. while doing everything else.
And everything else i can do except for that streaming part, is done over 3g with HD when availible with no WIFI requirements.

And no, the iphone has very very limited multitasking functionality which is limited to a few key apps you can actually run in the background.. the rest are the "frozen" method which isnt multitasking. Its not much different than saving your game on skyrim, turning off your Xbox, doing something else.. turning your xbox back on and reloading your saved game. that is NOT multitasking.

Did you even read the article? OI

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 21:50

77. E.N. (Posts: 2277; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


I don't have an iPad so I don't even know if you can stream video from iphone to a ipad at all let alone doing it in the background.Let's make this about multitasking and not individual features that I've never even heard about. And its funny because you said aside from the streaming part, everything else is done over 3G with HD. Lol, what were you referring to? Web browsing over 3G w/HD? Or were you talking about making phone calls over 3G w/HD? You're just adding more to make your list sound more complicated...its not working.

And this is really starting to get a tad annoying because you're telling me that I can't do all the things I do so very often. I make a lot of videos on my iPhone. I made a very large video using ReelDirector (I said iMove earlier but I mainly use ReelDirector) that took me 2+ hours to process and while it was processing, I was doing a variety of other things. Reeldirector "renders in the background and no need to restart the whole export if interrupted." (This is straight from their website). If I'm ever on hold for an extended period of time, I put my phone on speaker and web browse and play games. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO RELOAD YOUR SAVED GAMES EACH TIME YOU SWITCH OUT so its not like your example of turning off and on your xbox and reloading each time. You're being kinda stupid.

And I think you're stuck on getting video proof because you know very well that no one is going to go out of their way to get their digital camera and video all the things you had on their list and upload it just for your satisfaction (I know I'm not going to do it!, lol). I don't even think you'd believe it if you saw it with your own two eyes, that's how much of a google fan you are. Not only did I read the article, but I also have an iPhone! so stop telling me what my phone can or can't do.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 13:08

65. RamyAbdelbadea (Posts: 17; Member since: 07 Nov 2011)


you are sooo right

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:31

5. Phullofphil (Posts: 801; Member since: 10 Feb 2009)


Windows mobile and web OS have real multi tasking and I am not talking about windows phone. I think real multi tasking is not nessasary and apps should use the suspend implemented in ther structure more so that the operating system would be able to manage resources without loosing your spot in the app or task you are doing just start where you left off. Just like iOS and android has done. Well even though android actually got it right first they bothe do it well and differently affective. I would imagine that as windows phone comes to be better I go from one to the next and change up my phones to each platform often cause I like to change a lot. I will say though with Steve jobs passing will apple have that same strict policy he had of quality and innovation that made them great or will aple blead itself into mediocrity and fade away leaving an android and Microsoft race. Could happen. The power of stock holders has crushed other companies with there greed before

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:51 4

13. btbotimtim (Posts: 144; Member since: 08 Dec 2010)


You are very right.
Although windows mobile was my first smartphone, I don't know about its multitasking ability, but webOS has true multitasking.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:57 4

16. Doakie (Posts: 1231; Member since: 06 May 2009)


I love webOS I hope HP actually does something with it instead of letting it sit and rot. Its multitasking and the fast app switching with its advanced gestures on the Pre made it rock.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:35 4

7. 1701nino (Posts: 264; Member since: 07 Dec 2010)


Apple beat android again,their multitasking is much more smoother then of android.
That's a fact.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:37 6

9. Phullofphil (Posts: 801; Member since: 10 Feb 2009)


I really like android and I really like apple but you are so wrong about that. And another thing is saying something is better with no data or facts can not be a fact sir. That's a fact.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 05:33

21. E.N. (Posts: 2277; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


Well iOS multitasking isn't all that perfect either. There are some pre-iOS 4 applications that were never updated to take advantage of multitasking so you'd have to close and reload each time you start up the application. The good thing though is that most of them were eventually updated (due to low ratings) but there may be one here or there that never were.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 09:29 3

35. iamcc (Posts: 1319; Member since: 07 Oct 2011)


Yea and paddle shifters in cars shift smoother than most people using a standard clutch but that doesn't make it a true manual transmission.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 09:37 1

37. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


lol, i really wanna try out paddle shifters.. :)

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 09:39 1

38. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


Manual is better :) paddle shifters are cool though.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 10:06

44. iamcc (Posts: 1319; Member since: 07 Oct 2011)


Didn't we have this discussion? They suck! Haha

Nah nothing against paddle shifters but unless you're driving a Ferrari with an incredibly nice transmission (which I have never experienced i'm just making an assumption) then the lag between gears is unbearable... at least for me. My only experience was with a VW R32 which supposedly already has quite a nice tranny for paddle shifters, I was disappointed though.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 10:15

47. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


You should of put it in manumatic would of been alot better. Doing in in d or s doesn't do it justice.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 10:57

53. iamcc (Posts: 1319; Member since: 07 Oct 2011)


I did, I was using the paddles. There is still about a .5 sec delay between gears, and switching from 6 to 3 was a chore etc

It's not an issue, for anyone who has never driven a stick or who isn't that particular about it would probably think it's awesome. After driving with a clutch for 8 years now I like being able to do it all myself, and when I drove the R32 if I was flooring it and shifting there was slight hesitation between gears.

It's definitely not as bad as a regular automatic because you control the shifting rather than waiting for the transmission to recognize you want to shift up/down but it's still not as fun as having a clutch.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 10:41

51. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


yes we did.. and i still havent tried them. :)

is it as long as a delay as a cheap automatic? its been so long since ive been in an automatic i nearly forgot about that.. lol

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:35 1

8. Phullofphil (Posts: 801; Member since: 10 Feb 2009)


To add to above I want to add also that if an app needs to stay open in the back round there is ways to allow it. So android and iOS can really multi task especially android. But like I said befor most of the time it's not completely Jesu art and is something that people want but really don't need to the extent of having apps running full in back round like windows or other full operating systems that have a constant power supply or are meant to do more powerful things. Phones can't really handle it to well yet

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 03:40 13

11. RamyRamz69 (Posts: 390; Member since: 12 Dec 2011)


"What’s even more important - what you see in the multitasking bar is not a list of running applications. It’s a list of most recently used apps, which could be inactive (Not running)"

So uh...where is the Multi-Tasking feature bro? That means iPhones don't multi-task LOL

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 04:29 4

17. Doakie (Posts: 1231; Member since: 06 May 2009)


Great comment btw.

posted on 06 Jan 2012, 01:19

79. E.N. (Posts: 2277; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


That's because the app itself is not running but the functions (downloading, uploading, etc) are still being completed in the background. Real Multi-tasking, fake multitasking, backgrounding, or whatever you call it, it works and its effective.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 04:46 2

18. thebikerboi2 (Posts: 144; Member since: 01 Apr 2011)


just kill apps anyway, saves battery

posted on 06 Jan 2012, 01:09

78. E.N. (Posts: 2277; Member since: 25 Jan 2009)


yeah I do it anyway just because I hate seeing the list pile on and on. My question is if the applications take zero processing power, why include the function to kill it?

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 04:59

19. jasongohjr (Posts: 75; Member since: 26 Sep 2011)


Its very obvious that when the phone is running out of ram it will close apps or it won't be possible for u to open yr current app.... So the reason why computer have a larger ram is because they uses the 'real' multi tasking therefore, It needs lots of ram to keep app 'sleeping' in the background... And since high end android phone has at least 1gb of ram it makes multitasking on the phone much more 'real' in ics...

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 05:34

22. protozeloz (Posts: 5375; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


For those who may ask it's similar with Android in the fact that you don't need to kill apps. For Android killing apps could even cause issues if you don't know what you are doing

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 05:56

23. Dujai R. (Posts: 17; Member since: 12 Oct 2009)


When it comes to multitasking.. WebOS is king. Hands down.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 07:13 2

26. nanozander (Posts: 67; Member since: 19 Oct 2011)


Nope, Symbian is. Though nokia tend to give them really little memory....

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 09:46 2

40. Johnny_Mnemonic (Posts: 240; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)


They all have real multitasking , mmmmm my mistake iphone doesn't.

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 07:07

25. Kjayhawk (Posts: 287; Member since: 07 Oct 2010)


If you own an iOS device then you know this is how multitasking works... Nothing new here

posted on 05 Jan 2012, 07:20 1

27. bossmt_2 (Posts: 430; Member since: 13 Oct 2009)


So an entire article dedicated to saying that iOS doesn't really have Multitasking.

iOS limits what can run in the background, as long as it does that, it won't have true multitasking. iOS is beuild baround the experience Apple wants you to have, Android is build around the experience you want to have.

Want to comment? Please login or register.

Latest stories