Here's the most common misconception about iOS multitasking

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.


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82 Comments

1. clevername

Posts: 1436; Member since: Jul 11, 2008

Annnndd......go!

12. SlimSoulja86

Posts: 660; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

LOL, hehehehehe

15. Doakie

Posts: 2478; Member since: May 06, 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.

2. Crossblade

Posts: 224; Member since: Apr 21, 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

3. dian283

Posts: 3; Member since: Dec 10, 2011

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

14. -RVM-

Posts: 331; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Symbian has real multitasking for many years.

4. flopjoke

Posts: 42; Member since: Jan 05, 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.

6. SlimSoulja86

Posts: 660; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

Thumbs up #AppleFanWithDaDifference

10. SlimSoulja86

Posts: 660; Member since: Nov 03, 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

20. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 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.

24. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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.

28. Crossblade

Posts: 224; Member since: Apr 21, 2005

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

31. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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.

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

55. gallitoking

Posts: 4721; Member since: May 17, 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....

72. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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. :)

32. Evil_SaNz

Posts: 259; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

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

41. iSexy

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 21, 2011

Jumping between tabs ? Without reloading ? Really?

42. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

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

43. iamcc

Posts: 1319; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

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

45. clevername

Posts: 1436; Member since: Jul 11, 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.

50. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

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

59. clevername

Posts: 1436; Member since: Jul 11, 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.

74. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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.

68. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 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!

75. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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 :)

73. actura

Posts: 8; Member since: Nov 15, 2011

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

69. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

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

30. iSexy

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 21, 2011

Yeap I want to know an example too

60. iami67

Posts: 334; Member since: Oct 18, 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.

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