Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"Swiping" apps out of the recent apps menu

I read about a lot of people who think they are making their phones run better by 'swiping' things out of their recent apps menu (the two little rectangles at the bottom right of your phone). The reality of Android is that this is at best a waste of time, and at worse, making your phone operate slower. This is not like a desktop running Windows where these other apps are running in another window. Most apps are actually in a 'standby' state when they are in the background - except if you have music or Navigation or something that is actually open and running - but that's not really what we are talking about here.

As for swiping items from "recent apps" to free up memory, there really is no point in doing that. Most of your recent apps aren't actually running. If an app is actually running in the background (like streaming Sirius), swiping it out of the recent apps doesn't actually do ANYTHING. If you go into settings > apps > running, you will see that most of the things in your recent history aren't actually running. The OS puts them in a 'suspended state' that isn't really doing anything. If you click on "cached processes" at the bottom, you will likely see many of your recent apps there. Swiping these apps from the "recent apps" tray basically is just erasing this cache and doesn't really serve any purpose. By swiping these apps out of your recent history and clearing the cache, all you are doing is 'freeing up' memory that you don't actually need. If the phone is running low on memory the OS handles this on its own by prioritizing what it keeps running or cached in the background and will close apps completely if it needs the memory. In reality, by clearing these items from the cache, all you are doing is ensuring that the next time you open that app it will take much longer to load as its doing so from scratch instead of resuming from the cached state.

I don't want to get into the discussion of task killers as they are really unnecessary, especially on devices running ICS, for the same reason. The OS does a great job at managing apps and memory. It doesn't need your help. Now, you could manually close running processes if you really felt it was necessary, however that is really not recommended unless you feel like the app has gone rogue and won't shut itself down or something.



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