Yesterday in part one of this mini-series I covered what happens when you close out of app without killing it, and Background App Refresh which allows apps to download and update data in the background. To finish things up, in part two I’ll be covering what happens when you kill an app permanently (swiping up on the app in the app switcher) along with some final thoughts and things to consider if you kill apps on a regular basis.
Killing an App:
When iOS itself (not the user) terminates an app it is meant to shelf the app in its current state. It is like pouring liquid nitrogen all over a LEGO play set in its current mess and then chucking that masterpiece on a shelf. It’s removed from the play area (active memory) and isn’t taking up system resources anymore. When it’s opened again, the LEGOs are magically thawed and you continue with the mess. Here it is in Apple’s words.
The user terminating by swiping the app from the app switcher is like sweeping every LEGO piece into a box, and filing the box back in the warehouse in alphabetical order. When you want to open it again, the system has to spend more juice/resources to locate the box, pull it out, open the lid and set everything up. Even without demanding it to return to the artsy mess you had it in before, this still takes more energy – because unfreezing it is really just that much less effort for the system.
However, sometimes you’d find that if the app had been frozen and shelved for long enough, it will eventually get swept up in a box as well. From Allan Kerr, the developer of Watchdog:
Some applications will reload after sometime due to how individual developers implement backgrounding.
Here is a video made by Secretss explaining everything with a neat hand made visual aid to follow along with.
Okay, now we know about Background Capability, Background App Refresh, and what it means to kill an app. To go a little further, you can think about what apps you might use frequently that utilize these features of iOS and if you trust the developers to implement them correctly. If you take a little bit of time to reflect on what is outlined in this article and how it relates to your app usage, you might be surprised with what you learn.
Do you trust Facebook’s app developers to responsibly use it’s VoIP privileges? Would it be in their interest to keep the function running over your battery life? How many apps do you have Background App Refresh enabled for and why? Are you using these features?
Most importantly what apps do you use everyday, multiple times a day? These are the apps that you absolutely do not want to kill unless they stop functioning in some way or another. A couple examples of when I will kill one of these, are when Alien Blue, my favorite Reddit client, stops loading something or when the Messages app bugs out and won’t come out of landscape mode.
I swipe up without thinking of the consequences in these cases because it’s getting in the way of the user experience. I can personally say that I haven’t killed all of the apps in my switcher for years now and I have only seen an improvement to my device’s overall performance and battery life.
Let iOS do it’s job of creepily learning your habits and perform it’s state of the art memory management techniques. Apple may be known for it’s premium prices for hardware, but that comes with a lessor known compatibility with their software. Android handsets may ship with more RAM and faster CPU’s, but Apple’s flagship consistently benchmarks the same or higher year after year.
If you take anything away from this article, at take a moment to think about what was covered and see if you have it within yourself to try something new and stop swiping those apps!
Swiper no swiping!