Visualizing Android Multitasking

Complex Pants

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I know Android multitasks, and I know Android can have apps interact with each other. However, coming from WebOS, I have to say Android's solution is ugly and clunky. I am not very technically knowledgeable about Android yet, but would it be possible for a company like HTC or Motorola to edit their ROM to display the multitasking differently than the 6 icons you get when you hold down the home button?

The 3 main things I want to see fixed are:
  1. Be able to switch between all of your apps, just not the last 6
  2. Show only the apps that are open - don't fill up the six spots just to fill them
  3. Make it easier to close apps - not hold down the back button

I used to use WinMo back in the day and it was annoying as hell to have an app keep running even when you thought you closed it. WebOS made it very easy to see when you closed an app, it was no longer there.

My thought is to make multitasking kind of like holding down "alt+tab." It shows you all the windows that are open and you can select the one you want. I would go a step further and show all the apps that are open and put an "X" somewhere on the icon, which would allow you to close it. If you try to close the app you are currently in, Android can give you a little warning and just take you back to the home screen if you do close the app.

What do you guys think?
 

Andrew Ruffolo

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I think you have a misconception on how Android works and you need to do more homework before you criticize Android's multi-tasking capabilities.
1. Do you ever really have more than 6 apps open?
2/3. If you opened an app, it stays open until the system determines you aren't using it anymore and closes it automatically to save battery and not have the battery/memory leak issues WebOS is plagued with (Former Pre Owner, happy Hero owner). "Too Many Cards" is that memory leak only cured with a reboot on WebOS. Holding down the back button doesn't close the app, nothing does unless you use an appkiller and their use is not recommended. Android has its own memory management built into the OS that moves processes into foreground, background, then off all behind the scenes. Open an e-mail app, find an e-mail, realize you need to get someone's phone number? Hit home, open up People or whatever contacts app is on the phone find the number, long press, copy. Long press Home and select your e-mail app and voila, your e-mail is still loaded. Now lets say you didn't need to reply to that e-mail and you hit home anyway. Its still running, but only temporarily. After a while it will close by itself.
There is no need for anything to stay running like on WebOS. My gf's dad leaves his mail app open all the time so he doesn't have to enter the RockNRolla hack everytime to get it to display in landscape (Which landscape e-mail works by default). Every app that needs to poll data usually has a setting that it can poll data while running in the background (the lovely thing about widgets). I have a scores app. I don't need to leave it running to get the updated scores, it downloads the updates automatically for me and alerts me when something happened. I don't need to leave the browser open to get updated scores.

WebOS made it seem easy for you to THINK you closed an app. If there was a way to see what processes were going on behind, you would notice a lot of apps don't close properly and cause the "Too Many Cards" memory leak you are bound to have seen (I used to see it daily and it drove me MAD). My gf's power button is broken on her pre, so she is stuck with the "Too Many Cards" until she takes her lazy ass to a Sprint store to get it replaced. WebOS provides a ton of flashy appearance and yet very little functionality. I will never own another Palm product as long as they are still around. It was by far the worst experience I have ever had with a consumer product and my blood pressure rose to an unsafe levels multiple times just talking with their crappy support.
 

mclarryjr

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I think by holding down the home key just shows you the last 6 applications that you used not what app's are open. To see what app's are still running go to settings>application>manage application>hit menu>filter>select running.

At first I didn't like the fact you couldn't close application yourself but after using for a few months I found that the droid manages the application running very well closing them when more memory was needed. My days with WinMo I always had to end the task or the phone would slow down to a crawl.

I have never used a WebOS so I'm not sure how you switched between running app's but I don't mind just hitting my home button and selecting the app I want to use.
 

Jerry Hildenbrand

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Attachment 1 -

Full visualization of every process running on an Android device. One of about a gazillion ways to see it.

Attachment 2 -
Android only shows apps that are in use when you long press the home button. Only use one, then try it again.

Rufflez covers things nicely I might add :)
 

Andrew Ruffolo

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Attachment 1 -

Full visualization of every process running on an Android device. One of about a gazillion ways to see it.

Attachment 2 -
Android only shows apps that are in use when you long press the home button. Only use one, then try it again.

Rufflez covers things nicely I might add :)

Someone taught me something ;) You the man Jerry.
 

Andrew Ruffolo

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I have never used a WebOS so I'm not sure how you switched between running app's but I don't mind just hitting my home button and selecting the app I want to use.

If you leave the "Cards" open, those would theoretically be the apps that are running. However, some apps truely run, others (like the browser) don't which is a theoretical multi-tasking and not an actual multi-tasking. If you open the browser, then open another program and go back to the browser, it has to reload the page, no matter how much of the page was loaded previously. Other apps do stay open, but the stock browser wasn't one of them.
To switch from card to card, hit the button (sprint pre) or swipe up (vzw pre plus) and its an exploaded view, kinda sorta like hitting home twice in sense 2.1. If you have 6 cards open (playing fair with android) and you needed to access a card on the opposite side, its faster to make the switch in Android holding down the home button.
 

darreno1

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Well said rufflez!! WebOS can be pretty sloppy at closing apps even though you flick the cards away. I can't tell you how many times I found my Pre gradually getting slower as the day progressed with only a few cards open. A painful reboot helped - proof of memory leakage. I see a lot of misconceptions about Android on the Pre forums. A link to this thread might be a good idea.

At the end of the day my Droid is just as fast. Very rarely do I get slowdowns even after having tons of apps open - proof Android's memory management is very good.
 

r-nice

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Clarification on the Pre browser reloading

If you leave the "Cards" open, those would theoretically be the apps that are running. However, some apps truely run, others (like the browser) don't which is a theoretical multi-tasking and not an actual multi-tasking. If you open the browser, then open another program and go back to the browser, it has to reload the page, no matter how much of the page was loaded previously. Other apps do stay open, but the stock browser wasn't one of them.

This is partially true; it depends on how much memory the page requires and what else you have open.

If I load 1UP.com for example and go to another card and back it will more than likely reload the page. If I'm running say the PreCentral or Android Central mobile sites then it will keep the page where you left it.

Now if I have the browser (Android Central mobile), Newsroom, Engadget and let's say Tweed open and leave the browser and go back it will likely reload it also. Keep in mind this is just an observation from someone who's been using a Pre for awhile, not from a comprehensive test.
 

Complex Pants

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First let me appologize for being uniformed about android, I was just operating based on what I had researched on this site. WebOS just like android also has background operations that can collect data. You normally can activate or deactivate them. However, when you do throw off a card, it does close the app, but it takes the OS a few seconds to free the memory back up.

If you give WebOS a few moment you will likely be able to clear up the too many cards error. For the most part, unless you are on a Sprint Pre, you won't see them unless you have been opening and closing apps a ton or if you are 3D gaming.

Back on Android, I do have a few more questions/thoughts. Since android automatically closes apps, how does that work with document editing apps or if you are writing and e-mail and have to turn to something else for a while. Does it save it? Also, this was brought up else where, if you are playing a game in android, ExZeus or something, and you switch away from it, does the game auto pause or does it continue playing?
 

Andrew Ruffolo

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You can still have memory leak in WebOS, the difference, there is no possible remedy. My gf got lucky with the last update, since it restarts your phone automatically. Her power button stopped working (no surprise to me), so she can't turn her phone off, nor can she let it die or else she will essentially have a bricked phone. Before the 1.4.1.1 update, everytime she opened a card, she would get the "Too Many Cards" error, no matter what she was doing before hand.

To answer your questions though.
If you were in the middle of a text message, my Hero (running sense) automatically saves it as a draft and the next time you open up a message to that person, it automatically appears.

E-Mail:
I'll test this out for you. There is an option to save it as a draft right there in the middle of the screen, though, so even if it doesn't work, there's a way around it. 15 minutes later, still there.

Gaming:
I just tried this on my hero with Speed Forge 3D. If I press the home button mid race and go back to it later, it restarts the race, but I dont have to wait for the game to load again. So, yeah, kinda. I only tried this game as its the only one I had on my phone at the time.
My crossword auto saves, so I don't think i can use that one.
Solitaire: almost finished a game, hit home, went online. I came back to it, game resumed exactly where it was and I won :)
So yeah, i would guess its possible, it just depends on the game.

One thing I found out today, its possible for an app to maintain a timer through a reboot. I was doing laundry and I have this app as a timer to remind me when things are done. **** the phone off, switched batteries and turned it back on... timer still going. :)
 

prometheus

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There's been some great debate over the use / benefit / possible harm of app killers.

There's been discussion about memory management of Android OS.

I've seen a few questions posted here regarding "how do I close apps?"

Add to that the admittedly uninformed ideas of Complex Pants...

I come to the conclusion that a lot of folks just want to mess with their devices too much. I think this comes from OSs that require constant tweaking to obtain optimal performance. I come from the world of Blackberry. I was constantly monitoring and adjusting everything to get memory optimization. I have no hands on experience with WinMo devices. But, it sounds like a similar situation.

The difference between Android and many other OS is that none of that tweaking is needed (key wordneeded) with Android. Sure, there are methods for observing running apps, killing running apps, and monitoring memory use. Here's the kicker: IT'S NOT NEEDED!

That may break the heart of geeks who just itch to mess with their phones constantly. Opening apps is easy - just open it, press the button. Wanna open another app (multi-task)? Go ahead, open it. When you're done using an app - hit home, press back, whatever you choose and move on. It'll close if and when it needs to with no input from you. In fact, it works better if you DON'T mess with it (read: no app killer). What do I care if I have 1 or 50 apps "open"? As long as I'm able to do everything I want and do it quickly.

The beauty of Android OS is that the amount of customization and tools available is dizzying, especially when you get into the world of root and overclock. However, stock OS with no tweaking is still a solid and efficient multi-tasking robot. I know it sounds silly... but, it's very true: (An)droid does.
 

Complex Pants

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I have another question. I am in the medical profession and having quick access to epocrates is important to me. Would there be a way to have that open, but prevent android from closing it?

Mostly a hypothetical, but I am curious.
 

prometheus

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I have another question. I am in the medical profession and having quick access to epocrates is important to me. Would there be a way to have that open, but prevent android from closing it?

Mostly a hypothetical, but I am curious.

The short answer... I don't know if you're able to force an app to stay open if the OS deems it necessary to close.

The long answer... Things just don't randomly close for no discernible reason. True, the basic nature of Android OS is that apps running in the background that are sucking needed memory ARE closed. But, keep in mind this is only when memory is low. Which is NOT a common occurence. It's just NOT AN ISSUE. I don't ever try to return a running app and notice it's been closed. It just does not happen.

I'll go weeks at a time without ever powering off or rebooting. I run no app killer programs. I'll have 4-5 different web pages open. Run wi-fi, bluetooth, have multiple email accounts polling every 15 minutes, gmail pushing, messaging apps open, games running, widgets displaying weather, time, news updates, moon phases, daily bible texts, live wallpaper, in and out of map programs, facebook updates -- all of that. I NEVER check available memory, NEVER bother to even look or care what apps are running, NEVER care whether I "exit" or "close" an app.... and I've never noticed delay, lag, or sluggishness more than a few seconds. When I need to go back into an app - I click the icon and - BAM! there it is, ready for me.

Quit overthinking this. Android OS is awesome and will support professionals using it heavily. Come on over to our side. You'll love it.
 

Andrew Ruffolo

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I have epocrates as well. I'll test this app for you, even though its not officially supported on the Hero (doesn't work with 1.5, but I'm running a 2.1 leak). I'll test this out for you and get back to you.
 

Complex Pants

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I have epocrates as well. I'll test this app for you, even though its not officially supported on the Hero (doesn't work with 1.5, but I'm running a 2.1 leak). I'll test this out for you and get back to you.

Thanks! Are you in the medical profession? I am getting ready to take my USMLE step 1 and start 3rd year of medical school.
 

Complex Pants

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The short answer... I don't know if you're able to force an app to stay open if the OS deems it necessary to close.

The long answer... Things just don't randomly close for no discernible reason. True, the basic nature of Android OS is that apps running in the background that are sucking needed memory ARE closed. But, keep in mind this is only when memory is low. Which is NOT a common occurence. It's just NOT AN ISSUE. I don't ever try to return a running app and notice it's been closed. It just does not happen.

I'll go weeks at a time without ever powering off or rebooting. I run no app killer programs. I'll have 4-5 different web pages open. Run wi-fi, bluetooth, have multiple email accounts polling every 15 minutes, gmail pushing, messaging apps open, games running, widgets displaying weather, time, news updates, moon phases, daily bible texts, live wallpaper, in and out of map programs, facebook updates -- all of that. I NEVER check available memory, NEVER bother to even look or care what apps are running, NEVER care whether I "exit" or "close" an app.... and I've never noticed delay, lag, or sluggishness more than a few seconds. When I need to go back into an app - I click the icon and - BAM! there it is, ready for me.

Quit overthinking this. Android OS is awesome and will support professionals using it heavily. Come on over to our side. You'll love it.

The reason why I am in these forums is I am seriously considering the switch to the EVO from the Pre. But I am a cautious/obsessive person who likes to do research before I buy a tech device.

Since android does close apps in the background does this only happen when memory is low? Also is there any specific way android chooses an app to close?
 

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