24 July 2017

Daring Fireball: “Public Service Announcement: You Should Not Force Quit Apps on iOS”

The single biggest misconception about iOS is that it’s good digital hygiene to force quit apps that you aren’t using. The idea is that apps in the background are locking up unnecessary RAM and consuming unnecessary CPU cycles, thus hurting performance and wasting battery life.

In fact, apps frozen in the background on iOS unfreeze so quickly that I think it actually helps perpetuate the myth that you should force quit them: if you’re worried that background apps are draining your battery and you see how quickly they load from the background, it’s a reasonable assumption to believe that they never stopped running. But they did. They really do get frozen, the RAM they were using really does get reclaimed by the system, and they really do unfreeze and come back to life that quickly1.

John Gruber

Except… When an app freezes, the only thing you can do to restart it is a force quit. Or when apps suddenly stop ‘seeing’ your network and get stuck showing a ‘Connecting…’ message. Or when you want to stop apps from tracking your location or from running in the background, draining the battery.

Even though iOS has strong privacy controls to limit location tracking and background tasks, there are many apps who seem to find ways to get around them: at some point the Facebook app played silent audio to stay running past iOS’ constraints, mimicking a music app; Uber tracks your location constantly, even after the end of the ride. And I have seen many examples on my own device of apps draining the battery with unnecessary background activity; for example when I cast YouTube videos from my iPhone to my smart TV, sometimes the app keeps running on the phone long after I finished watching on the TV.

So, yes, you shouldn’t waste time doing this regularly, but there are still many cases when it’s the proper – or even only – solution.

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