Many smartphone users have the habit of closing apps as soon as they’re done using them. Some do it to keep their app switchers free of clutter, while others do it to gain a satisfying sense of completion of their tasks. Some also believe that closing apps can save battery life. But does it really?
When a 9to5mac.com reader sent an email to Apple, inquiring whether closing apps on iOS is necessary to extend battery life, Apple executive Craig Federighi responded succinctly with a “no.” An Apple support page explicitly states that an app should only be closed if it has become unresponsive. Meanwhile, in the Android camp, a senior vice president of Android tweeted that closing apps “could very slightly worsen unless you and algorithm are ONE (you kill something, system wants it back etc).”
As to the mistaken idea that apps should be closed because they would otherwise be running in the background, that’s not how multitasking in iOS and Android works.
How app multitasking works
Per another Apple support page, an app may continue to run but only briefly after you switch to another app, and after that brief period the app transitions to a suspended state. While in this state, the app is not actively consuming system resources or depleting the battery. Compared to fully relaunching it, resuming a suspended app from the app switcher is more energy-efficient as the system basically just restores the app to the state it was in when you left it.
Apps on Android behave similarly. An app that loses focus (like when you navigate away from the app, and it’s therefore no longer in the foreground) transitions to a paused state, temporarily halting its active processes to conserve system resources. As it’s only in a paused state, the app is ready to be immediately resumed when you switch back to it.
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Let the OS do its thing
Both the iOS and Android operating systems have efficient mechanisms in place to manage apps. They are designed to handle background tasks and services processes intelligently, ensuring that apps do not unnecessarily drain your device’s resources.
Should apps of higher priority require more memory, the operating system will automatically free up resources by closing less critical apps in the background. This dynamic resource allocation ensures a smooth user experience; no manual intervention is needed. As previously mentioned, it’s only necessary to close an app yourself if the app is malfunctioning or unresponsive.
Actual battery-saving tips
Now that we have settled that closing apps to save battery life is one of many technology myths you need to stop believing, here are actual battery-saving tips:
Using task killer apps to improve your phone’s performance and conserve battery life is often counterproductive. Again, Android and iOS can manage apps efficiently on their own. While some apps claim they can do a better job than the operating system, beware cautious of those that masquerade as memory managers or task killers but actually carry malware.
You can utilize the Background App Refresh feature on iOS to select which apps you want to run in the background. This feature gives you greater control on which apps can check for updates and download new content. For better battery life, consider turning off this feature completely.
Lower your smartphone screen’s brightness, set a shorter screen timeout period, so the screen turns off quickly when not in use, and disable unnecessary or unused services and features. Additionally, switching to grayscale or dark mode may help save some battery life, although some studies suggest that the effect is negligible.