Free Memory is a utility app for the iPhone that lets you free up RAM (random access memory) on your iPhone – and also makes me wonder how the heck it ever got approved for the App Store. Being able to free up memory is a hugely useful thing to offer – as it will allow you to run games or other apps that demand more memory without restarting your iPhone – and the app seems to do it pretty well, based on some quick testing this morning.
The RAM that Free Memory helps you to work with is the memory needed and used by programs when they are run, not to be confused with ‘storage memory’ on the iPhone. There is only 128mb of RAM available on the iPhone (as opposed to 8GB or 16GB of storage space) – and not all of this is available to 3rd party programs – as the OS and core system processes chew up a sizable chunk of this before any real ‘apps’ are ever launched.
As an example, Free Memory reports that I have around 43-44mb free RAM right after a restart of the iPhone. Once I have launched Safari (with a couple pages open) and launched a few other apps (an RSS app, iMob, Flickit) it shows just under 22mb free.
Notice how the MobileMail app is active in the background even when I have closed out of the app. A force quit of the app would likely see to this, but I rarely think of force quitting Mail or Safari.
If I keep opening more Safari pages and launching / exiting other apps, I eventually get to where available memory is reported as under 4mb by Free Memory – and if I ask it to free up memory for me, I get a warning that when you try this when there is under 4mb free it may take up to 2 minutes and may cause a restart.
So … the Free Memory app seems pretty impressive for a 99 cent utility. I love that it shows the list of currently running processes (haven’t seen this since running SysInfo back in early jailbreak days). It also shows remaining battery life as a percentage, which is nice, but which has apparently been nixed by Apple – so it will no longer be shown in the app’s next version.
Which leads me to my big question about Free Memory: how did this ever make it past Apple? I don’t get it. We can’t have apps that let us theme our iPhone, change the icons up – supposedly because they require a level of ‘system access’ that is not allowed by Apple. I’m no developer, but it strikes me that the level of access required to store some theme files / icon files in a default location so that we can choose our own look for the home screen, is certainly not a greater level of access than what is needed to display all apps / processes running on the phone, and then to go and manage free memory, which presumably involves killing off ‘orphaned’ processes or similar.
Seems to me there are a lot of fine lines, and grey areas, when it comes to deciding what gets in and does not get in to the App Store – as we’ve recently seen with things like ‘shaky boobs’ apps disguising themselves only very marginally and then getting approved.
I don’t want to sound as if I’m complaining that Free Memory made it into the store – I’m glad it’s there and like the app so far. It just surprises me – a lot – that it has been approved. Anybody else find it very strange that theming is a no-no, but memory management is OK?