Old habits seem to die hard and there is one bad habit I know that I share with several of my fellow geeks, force closing apps on our smartphones. Unfortunately, for those of using still clinging to this old habit, we now have absolute confirmation that our habit actually does more harm than good.
Over the past week or so, both Apple and Google have confirmed that force closing your apps does absolutely nothing to improve your battery life. In fact, says Hiroshi Lockheimer, the VP of Engineering for Android, it might make things worse.
To put into simpler terms what we are seeing here, and why software developers from both Apple and Google have reached this conclusion, the operating systems for smartphones (and even PCs these days) have become some adept at memory and battery management that they are doing more good by continually running apps than you are by closing them. In more complex terms, both Android and iOS, utilize algorithms to run memory management. These algorithms control each app, the amount of memory allocated to those apps and allow them to sit dormant until they are needed again.
Why this matters you may ask? Think of it as a hot water faucet. Each time you turn it on you need to run more water to get the water hot. Thus you waste a lot of water. Now if you had that water circulating, but not being used, it would be hot instantly and you'd have little to no waste. This is sort of how these memory algorithms work.
These systems will close apps that need to be closed, typically ones that have been sitting dormant for a while or are using more power or memory than they should. They know exactly which ones they can and should 'disable' based on your usage. These algorithms build a profile specific to you as a user and they know when you’re going to need data, or want a refresh, or open an app again.
Apps that are already in memory open quickly, rather than having to fully start again; it’s like waking your computer from sleep rather than rebooting it completely. You’re far, far better off letting the system work for you rather than forcing it to re-open and re-start everything every time. Battery questions aside, it makes your phone slower and less coherent.
So now that we know that, are we really going to stop? Honestly, probably not! I've know about this for a few years now as it has come to my attention through various sources and through several discussions. Still I can't break the habit and honestly even if I did as a high level user I doubt I personally would notice a major improvement in battery life. You however, might see some improvements. These might only be minor, but that last second of battery life can mean a lot in the right circumstance!
My suggestions, if you are really that worried about it and you are really into saving battery is to follow a few of these tricks:
- Battery management - All phones have an option to see where they are using battery power. Learn to use your battery management tool so you can see where your battery life is going or get a freebie that helps you see even more info!
- Shut off that bright screen- Turn down your screen brightness or set it to auto adjust. When you check your battery management you'll likely see that your screen is using most of your battery.
- Stop sharing your location - Turn off location sharing for apps that don’t need it (which is a good idea regardless).
- Turn off features you don't need - If you’re not using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or NFC turn them off. Why waste power on things you aren't using right?
- Powering saving mode - Use Low Power Mode in iOS and power saving or Doze on Android. Cut back on some of the power your device has and you can shave a little off your usage.