Xiaomi phones have one ingenious little feature that improves user experience, performance, and battery in subtle ways

"App locking" within the Recents tray in MIUI.


Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi's name ought to ring a bell for even some non-techies by now, courtesy of its cheap yet quality handsets, but did you know that it started out as a software company? That's right, its ultra-popular custom Android skin called MIUI, initially released in 2010, is its earliest known product, and is regarded by its users as one of the best in the business.

Having used Xiaomi devices extensively, we're well acquainted with MIUI, and love some of the small but useful features it offers. One particular sliver of functionality that MIUI handsets bring to the table is especially helpful, as it improves our day-to-day experience with Xiaomi devices, whilst also bettering performance and battery life in a subtle way. As far as we know, there's no official name for the ingenious feature, but in essence it allows you to "lock" apps within your Recent Apps tray so that they're protected if you try to flush whatever is in there to free up some RAM. To do it, all you need to do is swipe them downwards (instead of upwards, which kills them off).

So why is this ingenious? First of all, using this feature we can lock essential apps that we use every day, like Phone, Viber, Facebook, and so on. Doing so will ensure that all three of these always open as fast as possible, and right where we left off, because the system doesn't have to launch the app from scratch every time you close it, or in case Android runs out of memory and automatically flushes it. This, in turn, helps improve performance, as less CPU cycles are needed to launch these apps, so more is available for the system. In addition, since the processor isn't working as hard, you're also saving on battery.

This may sound like a negligible improvement, but you have to keep in mind that smartphone performance is characterized by sudden peaks in component usage (and battery drain), followed by a lot of idling. The less you antagonize the hardware when your device is working hard, the better off you'll be. Besides, we kind of like it having quick access to our most commonly used apps this way, and we don't at all miss having to dig through tens upon tens of apps.

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21 Comments

1. RajRicardo

Posts: 483; Member since: Feb 28, 2014

Are people still closing apps? In Lollipop you dont have to. They wont affect battery life in any way. I just leave them alone in the recent apps tray.

2. neela_akaash

Posts: 1239; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

There are lots of useful features in MIUI 6. This is only one. Try this with a phone which has 1 gb of RAM. then you will feel the difference. Not everyone holds a flagship smartphone in their pocket..

13. vazzzz

Posts: 64; Member since: May 09, 2014

I've tried even with 512 MB KitKat smartphone. Android knows how to handle the apps even if you don't close them. I've opened about 50 apps and closed none of them. The phone performed as well as it was just booted. The Android RAM management is optimized and if you have a phone with 1 GB, which suffers from lack of RAM or get laggy when you open several apps, then you should - 1) throw away your Jelly Bean phone 2) Stop buying Samsung entry smartphones

20. qxavierus

Posts: 51; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

I second that. No matter how fast hardware a phone has, it can still lag horribly. Get a phone with as stock Android as you can, and you'll get a great experience even on slow phones.

21. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

This is the truth, Samsung is capable to slowing down even the most powerful SOC and ram around. Samsung new user need to go thru the customary disabling of non-essential apps. I have been doing that for my first Samsung phone and Tablet, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Note 2. Otherwise, I might have quite buying Samsung long time ago.

4. medicci37

Posts: 1361; Member since: Nov 19, 2011

That's not true. Apps can still misbehave and drain battery

5. Galaxy_Apple

Posts: 129; Member since: May 24, 2015

issue isnt battery life sometimes the phone just slows down or heats up due to some random app running in background when you dont need to or when ram gets used up which happens a lot. Thats the problem with giving apps full access to all resources , it's useful but also needs to be managed manually for best results , most of the time it's fine just sometimes when you push your phone you need to mange it manually

19. qxavierus

Posts: 51; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

Removing an app from the Recent Apps tray won't stop them. A bad app will continue to eat battery or slow the phone down until you "Force close" it.

15. waddup121 unregistered

That's nice.

17. rantao333

Posts: 345; Member since: May 21, 2013

i will call that bxxsxx, i owned galaxy s6 now, trust me, when u leave those apps in the background, it will slow down tremendously. NOt even with these UFS 2.0 ddr4 14nm watever shiet they call, it still slow down like a galaxy s3

3. realjjj

Posts: 375; Member since: Jan 28, 2014

lmao have you guys seen any computing device before today? You waste battery by keeping them in RAM and that's far worse than you guys think it is . It also makes things more difficult since you run out of RAM faster so perf gets worse overall ( you do get slightly faster access to those apps always open but at a cost). And ofc if any of the pinned apps has memory leaks, things go out of hand. So while it's conveneient ,it should only be used when it really matters and only with well built apps. especially on Xiaomi's devices with only 1GB of RAM.

6. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

As far as I know, the system has no way of knowing which parts of the memory are actually occupied, so it makes no difference if they're or not. On the other hand, obsessively killing off apps in the memory makes things worse.

8. Japultra

Posts: 133; Member since: May 16, 2014

Wow, you actually WANT Facebook to continue running? That's one of the first apps I Greenfiy.

9. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

It's an example; your particular pick is up to you.

10. dimas

Posts: 3289; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Facebook is the worst crappy app I used. Removed it from my phone and just open it in my browser.

14. 99nights

Posts: 1152; Member since: Mar 10, 2015

I've done this for as long as I can remember.

12. lallolu

Posts: 731; Member since: Sep 18, 2012

lol. That was what I thought too. Everyday apps? No!!! I greenify it and its messenger immediately I flash a ROM and I restrict it auto starting and keeping awake in Privacy Guard.

11. Bondurant

Posts: 779; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

Why is this MIUI feature when it was on Huawei's Emui 3.0 since half of last year ?

18. neela_akaash

Posts: 1239; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

It's available in MIUI for more than 2 years....

16. yoosufmuneer

Posts: 1518; Member since: Feb 14, 2015

Waiting for HugoBarraCyanogenmod..

22. najib1312

Posts: 155; Member since: May 08, 2013

My Meizu also has this feature. Very handy for the Music App.

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