Revisiting Android Task Killers and Why You Still Donít Need One

This is a discussion on Revisiting Android Task Killers and Why You Still Donít Need One within the Droid X Apps forums, part of the Droid X Extras category; I saw this article posted on DroidLife and thought it might be helpful in explaining why task killers are not needed. We almost hate to ...


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Thread: Revisiting Android Task Killers and Why You Still Donít Need One

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    Revisiting Android Task Killers and Why You Still Donít Need One

    I saw this article posted on DroidLife and thought it might be helpful in explaining why task killers are not needed.

    We almost hate to approach the topic of Task Killers on Android after all this time, but with so many new faces here at Droid Life and in Android in general, itís something that needs to be done. In fact, after seeing the Amazon app of the day and reading through the Twitter conversations we just had with many of you, this thing needs to be posted immediately. Letís see if we canít get you all some better battery life!
    First off, please ignore the image up at the top of the post. If this was 2009 and we were all running something less than Android 2.2, that statement plastered on that red banner might be somewhat correct. But since it is 2011 and the majority of people on the planet are running Android 2.2, we need to get you away from the mindset that killing off tasks on your phone is a good thing.
    So rather than me blabbering about the inner-workings of Android and how it manages RAM for the 10,000th time, Iím going to just pull from some posts that friends of ours have done that explain this in the plainest of ways.
    First up is our boy @cvpcs who you may know from CM and his Sapphire ROM days. He knows Android inside-and-out, so when he goes into memory management which is done by the OS itself, you should listen up:
    ÖWhat people donít seem to realize is that android is designed to have a large number of tasks stored in memory at all times. Why? Well basically we are talking about a mobile device. On a mobile device things tend to be slower. The hardware isnít as robust as say a desktop or a laptop, so in order to get that same ďsnappyĒ feeling, there have to be workarounds.
    One of these is how android deals with memory. Android will load up your apps and then keep them running until they absolutely HAVE to kill them. This is because that way, if you want to re-open an app, the system already has it loaded and can then just resume it instead of reloading it. This provides a significant performance increase.
    What a lot of people donít realize as well is that android kernels have their own task manager. This means that:

    1. it will be more efficient than any app-based task manager as it is run at the kernel level, and
    2. it should be left up to that task killer to decide when to free up memory

    There is only one case where having a task killer is a good idea, and that is when you want to kill ONE SPECIFIC APP. Killing all apps is never a good idea. You donít know what operations they are performing or if they are necessary.
    Whitson Gordon of Lifehacker suggests that you should be more worried about CPU usage than whatís going on with your RAM. We agree:
    This set-up implies that the goal of killing these apps is to free up memory. Nowhere on the list does it mention the number of CPU cycles each app is consuming, only the memory youíll free by killing it. As weíve learned, full memory is not a bad thingówe want to watch out for the CPU, the resource that actually slows down your phone and drains your battery life.
    Thus, killing all but the essential apps (or telling Android to kill apps more aggressively with the ďautokillĒ feature) is generally unnecessary. Furthermore, itís actually possible that this will worsen your phoneís performance and battery life. Whether youíre manually killing apps all the time or telling the task killer to aggressively remove apps from your memory, youíre actually using CPU cycles when you otherwise wouldnítókilling apps that arenít doing anything in the first place.
    In fact, some of the processes related to those apps will actually start right back up, further draining your CPU. If they donít, killing those processes can cause other sorts of problemsóalarms donít go off, you donít receive text messages, or other related apps may force close without warning. All in all, youíre usually better off letting your phone work as intendedóespecially if youíre more of a casual user. In these instances, a task killer causes more problems than it solves.
    More on how Android has a built-in memory-management system, but also on how killing all tasks is not a good thing (via: NextApp):
    Android was designed from the ground up as an operating system (OS) for mobile devices. Its built-in application and memory-management systems were engineered with battery life as one of the most critical concerns.
    The Android OS does not work like a desktop operating system. On a desktop OS, like Windows, Mac OS X, or Ubuntu Linux, the user is responsible for closing programs in order to keep a reasonable amount of memory available. On Android, this is not the case. The OS itself automatically removes programs from memory as memory is needed. The OS may also preload applications into memory which it thinks might soon be needed.
    Having lots of available empty memory is not a good thing. It takes the same amount of power to hold ďnothingĒ in memory as it does to hold actual data. So, like every other operating system in use today, Android does its best to keep as much important/likely-to-be-used information in memory as possible.
    As such, using the task manager feature of SystemPanel to constantly clear memory by killing all apps is strongly NOT RECOMMENDED. This also applies to any other task killer / management program. Generally speaking, you should only ďEndĒ applications if you see one which is not working correctly. The ďEnd AllĒ feature can be used if your phone/device is performing poorly and you are uncertain of the cause.
    And we could go on for hours with source after source on why task killers do nothing but work against Android, but you probably get the point now donít you? Ready for a quick recap? OK.


    Basically, Android keeps tasks handy because it thinks youíll want to perform them again in a very short amount of time. If you donít, it will clear them out for you. It also likes to keep as many things handy as possible so that the overall performance of your device is top notch. If Android were to completely kill off everything that your phone is doing, then it would require more resources to restart all of them and you would likely run into slowness and battery drains. By keeping certain things available to you, your phone is actually running better than it would without. So please, stop killing off tasks and let Android do the work for you.


    Your goal for the week is wash your brain of the idea that having little RAM available is a bad thing. The more RAM available, the more Android will find ways to use it up which means your battery will be dead in hours. Instead, let it manage itself, so that you can spend more time playing Angry Birds or reading Droid Life.
    All good now?

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    I still use a task manager for the sole purpose of killing hung/unresponsive apps.

    Sent from my DROIDX using Droid X Forums

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3elevenX View Post
    I still use a task manager for the sole purpose of killing hung/unresponsive apps.

    Sent from my DROIDX using Droid X Forums

    Me too. I've also had issues where if I look at battery usage, one app is eating up a large percentage of my battery in the background, so I kill it.

    Those are about the only good reasons to kill anything I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tchnclfl View Post
    Me too. I've also had issues where if I look at battery usage, one app is eating up a large percentage of my battery in the background, so I kill it.

    Those are about the only good reasons to kill anything I think.
    And if your like me you are always looking for the next great app, problem is the google market is atrocious
    there is so much crap floating around, and the reviews of 14 yr old kids are worthless, there is no quality control
    I come from the linux world view of computing, on my personal desktop, nothing and I mean nothing gets installed from outside my stream. I have a repository of thousands of programs (all for free, which is why I balk at the $2.00 app, lol), that the maintainers of the distro have carefully inspected, which means if firefox has released the latest greatest version, I will wait until it's in my repository before installing, so I might have to patiently wait for a few days to get it. Google really needs to get a handle on whats going on, I mean it's their reputation on the line.
    As for task killers, the article is right on, this isn't windows
    http://gplus.to/hillbilliegreg Droid X running Liberty 3.0 this week

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    The openness of the market is what makes it different from the iTunes appstore though. They (Apple) filter and scrutinize every single app and every single app update, and it's very highly restricted. Google took (in theory) the opposite approach and allow the users to be the filter. Although, as you said, you can't trust a lot of the reviews because a lot of them are from people who have no idea what they're talking about. It's not a perfect system, but at least it's not borderline fascist!

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