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Learn How iOS Multitasking Really Works

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Fraser Spiers debunks the common ‘tip’ he frequently hears about how people should kill iOS multitasking apps as they ‘slow down’ your iPhone.

To counter this incorrect advice he details specifics about how multitasking works on iOS, and how the system is smart enough to manage itself on its own. It’s a comprehensive read for all iOS users:

You may think that, if an app is resident in memory, you have to somehow remove it to conserve memory. You don’t because iOS does it for you. If there are Suspended apps lying around and you launch a memory-intensive app such as a big game, iOS will start to purge Suspended apps and move them to the Not Running state. That is, they will be completely removed from memory and will launch afresh the next time you tap their icon.

Where some people get confused is this: all of the above has no impact on what you see in the multitasking bar. The multitasking bar always shows a list of recently used apps, regardless of whether they’re in the Background, Suspended or Not Running states. You may also have noticed that the app that is currently Active does not appear in the multitasking bar.

Here is Apple’s own description of multitasking, a featured that debuted last summer with iOS 4.0:

Multitasking in iOS allows you to switch instantly between apps and to resume an app. When you return to an app, you can pick up right where you left off. Multitasking doesn’t slow down the performance of the foreground app or drain battery life unnecessarily.

As much as I agree with the intuitiveness of iOS to manage itself, I found killing apps in the multitasking tray did speed up my former iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 (not so much on the iPhone 4S–it’s blazing).

Don’t we all remember the Cydia tweak ‘Remove Background’? One test you can do yourself is run an intensive app such as iMovie with the multitasking tray full versus emptied, and tell me if you notice a difference. It’s a debate I’ve had numerous times with friends.

Do you force close multitasking apps? Or do you put your trust into iOS?

[via BrooksReview]

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