Mobile Multitasking

Mobile Multitasking

If you want to understand the current mobile landscape, it’s essential to understand that, in broad terms, what Apple has unveiled for iPhone OS 4 is pretty similar to Android’s multitasking model. In both iPhone OS 4 and Android, users should never need to quit apps manually — when the system runs low on memory, it automatically quits least-recently-used background apps to free up more.

Now, it’s true that there are task manager apps in the Android Market. But they are not necessary. The Android system doesn’t come with one and doesn’t need one. And I strongly suspect that Google’s Android team is annoyed that these task manager apps are in the market, because their existence creates the impression that they’re necessary or useful. I’ve spent a few weeks on a Nexus One, and background apps don’t slow the system down and don’t need to be quit manually.

Τα κείμενα του Gruber είναι τα πιο ενδιαφέροντα, με άριστες δόσεις από τεχνική ανάλυση, ψυχραιμία και σοβαρότητα.

One can argue about which platform, Android or iPhone OS 4, has the better multitasking system. Maybe Android’s system is still better; my hunch is that Android allows background apps more freedom. Maybe the iPhone’s system is better; there are some fascinating technical details, like how blocks and Grand Central Dispatch are now available for concurrent and background tasks. (Whatever you think of iPhone OS 4’s multitasking model, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s simple; this is state of the art computer science.)1 In the end, I suspect opinion on the differences between Android and iPhone multitasking will fall along the same lines of the general question of Android-vs.-iPhone — Android offers a bit more freedom to developers, iPhone is more controlled and orderly, and tries to guarantee a more responsive system for the user.

Η διαφορά στην υλοποίηση αποδίδεται στις στοχεύσεις: Η Google επιθυμεί να προσφέρει μία εμπειρία πλησιέστερη στην χρήση ενός συμβατικού υπολογιστή ενώ η Apple επιμένει στην απρόσκοπτη και απροβλημάτιστη εμπειρία χρήσης, τηρώντας τις ισορροπίες μεταξύ απόδοσης και αυτονομίας.

UPDATE: Hacker News Comments on My ‘Mobile Multitasking’ Piece

You certainly do need a task manager on Android for the simple reason that certain types of applications can be battery hogs. They may not tax the performance of the device enough to be killed automatically. I know Android 2.x is supposed to monitor battery usage but it simply doesn’t work very well — or at all in some cases. Subsonic (streaming audio client) kills my phone’s battery if I don’t kill it manually with a task manager. The app does not include a quit option. It can kill my battery in about 3 hours even if I pause playback because it keeps its connection to the server open. Another app I use, Jabiru (jabber client), does the same thing but it does have a disconnect and quit option so I wouldn’t need a third party task manager to deal with it. So it seems to me Android’s multi-tasking is largely dependent on the applications you use.

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