We’ve known since the get-go that the Multitasking Bar on iOS devices is misnamed. It would be more accurately described as a Rapid App Switching Bar or Apple’s First Stab at App Switching Bar – as there is currently only very limited and closely controlled multitasking on iOS. So the apps shown in the Multitasking Bar are not generally running in the background (with some exceptions) but are just the most recently used apps.
There’s been a fair bit of debate around the web about how much (if any) memory and other resources might be used by the apps shown in the MT bar, and how much (if at all) users should worry about ‘managing’ apps in the bar. Now a very clever gent called Frasier Speirs has gone a long way towards ending all need for any debate on this subject. He’s written very well on the subject on his blog site and also released an excellent video demo showing in great detail how iOS multitasking works.
Here’s the main sections listing for the video:
- An app going from active to background to suspended
- Instacast HD requesting extra background time to finish a podcast download
- TomTom running indefinitely in the background
- Batman Arkham City Lockdown and Real Racing 2 HD competing for big chunks of device memory
- Batman Arkham City Lockdown forcing several smaller apps out of memory
The verdict from Speirs is that killing apps manually (to try to free up memory) is fine as a troubleshooting step, but should not be part of a regular routine on iDevices – as it just not needed.
Check out the video demo here: