Every iOS user/concept designer should read this!
Lately, there have been quite a few posts about improving iOS and iOS7 concepts. What I see every time in those concepts is the "improved app switcher/ killer" and that's what I wanted to talk about.
A while back I read an article about iOS multitasking. It really helped me understand why it worked the way it did and I think every iOS user should read this (hence title). I'll cite a few things the author wrote:
Let me be as clear as I can be: the iOS multitasking bar does not contain "a list of all running apps". It contains "a list of recently used apps". The user never has to manage background tasks on iOS.
Except in a few cases, which I'll explain, the apps that appear in the multitasking bar are not currently running. When you press the home button, iOS will tell the app to quit. In almost all cases, it quits, it stops using CPU time (and hence battery) and the memory it was using is eventually recovered if required.
iOS apps have five states of execution. These are:
- Not running - the app has been terminated or has not been launched.
- Inactive - the app is in the foreground but not receiving events (for example, the user has locked the device with the app active)
- Active - the normal state of "in use" for an app
- Background - the app is no longer on-screen but is still executing code
- Suspended - the app is still resident in memory but is not executing code
Active and Inactive are not interesting for this discussion. Most of the confusion is around what happens as an app goes from Active to Background to Suspended to Not Running.
When you press the home button, the app moves from Active to Background. Most apps usually then go from Background to Suspended in a matter of seconds.
The first technical caveat is that Suspended apps remain in the device's memory. This is so they can resume more quickly when you go back to them. They're not using processor time and they're not sucking battery power.
You may think that, if an app is resident in memory, you have to somehow remove it to conserve memory. You don't because iOS does it for you. If there are Suspended apps lying around and you launch a memory-intensive app such as a big game, iOS will start to purge Suspended apps and move them to the Not Running state. That is, they will be completely removed from memory and will launch afresh the next time you tap their icon.
When an app is sent to the Background, it usually moves to the Suspended state in a few seconds. An app can request an extension to this by declaring that it's starting a "background task".
After reading this, I stopped killing apps and started just using my device. Not worrying about managing memory or saving battery and I didn't notice any change in performance or battery life, this made me appreciate my iPhone so much more.
Apple doesn't want you to kill apps unless you really need to! (For example, when an app freezes). That's why you have to "go through all that trouble" (open app tray > hold icon > tap little (-) target).
If this was any easier I would think Apple wanted me to manage my phone. Heck, I even thought I had to manage my phone with the current situation. This all sounds so logical afterwards and I feel like a fool, lol.
One of the app switching concepts I've seen here is Auxo's and users are very excited about this. I've read posts saying that Apple MUST implement this.
iOS has been here for almost 6 years now. It has always been a grid of icons. Ever since you've touched an iOS device you have been confronted with icons. Whenever you need to launch that specific app, you look for its icon on your springboard/ app launcher. So all that time you've learned to recognize apps by their icon.
In this concept the icon is smaller and it sits in front of a screenshot that distracts the user and doesn't help you recognize the app you're looking for.
What if you have a webpage open in Safari and and e-mail in Mail. Both apps have a blue top and bottom bar with content between those bars. How would a screenshot help you distinguish between those apps? It wouldn't be that helpful.
Also, apps rarely consist of just one screen. Apps come with many different screens/ tabs, which means you'll have to be able to recognize those as well, FOR ONE APP.
Again, the only way you've learned to recognize apps is by their icon.
It amazes me how many users here actually want this in iOS7.
I hope I didn't come off cocky, too criticizing or like a wannabe UI guru. I just wanted to share the article about killing apps and my thoughts on App Switching with screenshots.
Happy New Year!!