Android Task Management: How to Rein In Your Running Apps

What’s a running app? It’s a succubus for your Android phone. Seriously, when you open an app, it won’t close unless you manually close it. Most people don’t because they assume closing the window closes the app – wrong. That’s the magic of “multi-tasking.” Apps are left open permanently. And, while Google Play is full of task management apps, you don’t need any of them to kill the open app.

Employ Automatic Task Killing

Task managers and “killers” run in the background and promise to speed up your mobile device by shutting down apps that aren’t being used. But, apps on Android devices don’t always use memory when running in the background. They’re just sitting there in memory and use no CPU resources. Shutting them down when you don’t need to may make the whole phone seem slower because the app data needs to be transferred from system storage back into RAM each time you open it up fresh.

For example, running the Vuze Torrent Downloader app for Android lets you do P2P file sharing right from your mobile device. If you’re actually doing a file transfer, yeah, it’s going to consume resources. But, if the program is just sitting there idly, then it’s not. So, you can leave it open with no real consequences.

But, for times when you do need to kill apps in the background, use the onboard task killer. It’s free, and it works perfectly.

Ending a Running App

There are two ways to end an app: the easy way or the hard way – just like in those old hard-boiled detective movies. The easy way is to open up the multitasking screen and press the dedicated multitasking button. If you don’t have one of those (i.e. you have a Galaxy S4 or HTC One), you long-press or double tap the home button.

Next, swipe the target app to the left or right of the screen and the thumbnail of it will disappear. That’s it.

The hard way is to access apps from Android’s settings screen. It takes a few more steps and it accomplishes the same thing. Scroll through the settings until you find the app you’re looking for. Tap the “force stop” button and it will kill the app.

Managing Apps Natively

With the app’s info screen still up, you can also manage apps individually and prevent them from showing notifications. You can also adjust the amount of storage the app is using, clear the data of cache, change whether it’s the default app for that class of apps (i.e. the default map application), and view its permissions.

This will go a long ways toward solving your memory problems.

Seeing Apps In the Background

Keep an eye on apps you’ve go open by viewing apps in the background. On Android, this is easy. Go to the apps setting pane, and then swipe over to the “running” category to see what’s running in the background. You’ll see how much memory is being used by every app, and whether it’s actively consuming (or hogging) resources.

Bert Bruton has a great love for technology. After putting devices and apps to the test, he enjoys blogging about the ins and outs of making technology work for daily life.

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