If you’re an iPhone or iPad owner, I’m sure you’ve done this before – force quitting apps on your iPhone by swiping their “cards” via the iOS App Switcher. Here’s a quick refresher – quickly double-click your Home button to scroll through cards of your recently used apps then flick them upward to close them.
Although this little trick is great for multitasking with several apps or for resetting unresponsive apps, tech blogger John Gruber recently wrote that doing it in hopes of improving your iOS gadget’s performance and battery life is not only a waste of time – it has the opposite effect.
In a Daring Fireball post, Gruber wrote that the “biggest misconception about iOS is that it’s good digital hygiene to force quit apps that you aren’t using.”
Closing background applications to free up resources may be true in other operating systems like Windows, Macs and even Android, but things work differently in iOS.
Gruber explained, “The iOS system is designed so that none of the above justifications for force quitting are true. Apps in the background are effectively ‘frozen,’ severely limiting what they can do in the background and freeing up the RAM they were using.”
So basically, unlike other operating systems, iOS “freezes” apps when they’re sent to the background, releasing any RAM and CPU resources they’re using. Due to iOS’s unique system of managing frozen apps, “unfreezing” them to use them again happens almost instantly.
Gruber argued that force quitting an app then relaunching it actually consumes more CPU cycles and energy than simply unfreezing an app. In fact, it will make your iOS gadget’s battery life worse.
And apparently, even Apple bigwigs agree. Gruber cited an email response from Craig Federighi, Apple’s VP of software engineering, to a customer who asked if he force quits apps and whether doing so preserves battery life. Federighi’s simple answer? “No and no.”
He also quoted a 2010 email from the late Steve Jobs:
“Just use [iOS multitasking] as designed, and you’ll be happy. No need to ever quit apps.”
And yet with all the evidence that force-quitting apps on iOS doesn’t really improve its performance, the myth persists to this day and we still see people swiping up every single app card on their iPhones to “speed it up.” Quit doing that, iOS doesn’t work that way.
But as I mentioned earlier, force closing iOS apps still has its vital uses.
There may be times when an app bugs out and it becomes unresponsive or stuck, then it is necessary to kill it by doing the force-quit routine.
Or maybe an app is abusing iOS system loopholes and you suspect that it’s still running in the background even after you close it, then go ahead kill it since iOS apps are not supposed to work that way. (Interestingly, Gruber cited the Facebook app as a repeat offender.)
So there you have it, although force-closing apps in iOS has its own specific uses (that’s probably why Apple kept the feature in iOS), clearing up all your recent apps is not only an unnecessary chore, it can be a wasteful one as well.