Apr 26th, 2012 @ 8:57 am

Q&A: How Do I Close Android Apps?

I’ve been using Android for so long that I sometimes forget to cover the “basics” so to speak. Apparently, there are people who don’t live and breath Android like I do. They also probably have girlfriends, but whatever.

One very common question I hear from brand new Android owners is whether they should close Android apps manually and, if so, how to do that. While none of my suggestions here are hard and fast rules, they do give you the basics on task management on any Android device.


Should I Use A Task Killer Or Close Apps?

If you’re just getting your feet wet with Android then you’ve more than likely Googled a few of your questions, which often enough will lead you to some far flung Android forum. Now, depending on the site,  asking a question like “Should I Use A Task Killer?” is likely to result in one of two responses. For those of you really new, task killers are apps that simply close any apps running at that moment.

Some folks say “Yes,” using task killer absolutely can speed up your device, while other say “No,” you never need to use these types of apps. So who’s right?

In short, the nays have it… sort of. Android is already designed to efficiently manage background applications and your devices memory. So, instead of simply allowing applications to pile up in the background until your phone grinds to a halt, Android will commit resources to the app you’re currently using.

In short, it basically takes care of itself. Moreover, there’s a quite a bit of evidence that task killers actually can make performance and battery life worse.

However, this isn’t to say that bad, poorly coded, or resource intensive apps don’t exist. Live wallpapers can slow down your phone. Apps that ping your GPS can suddenly make your phone laggy, etc.


The Better Approach: Monitor Resource Hogs Then Uninstall

A better approach to keeping an eye on those pesky resource hogs is using an app like Watchdog Task Manager. Despite the name, Watchdog is meant to monitor the apps that are using the most resources. Once you figure that out, the ball’s in your court.

Watchdog Task Manager is a great way to monitor app usage without slowing down performance.

There’s not much that can be done about bad apps except to uninstall them. Sometimes this is a hard choice if it’s an app you use all the time, but there’s nearly at least one good alternative for app these days.


How To Manually Close Android Apps

Regardless of whether you think task killers help or hurt, Android already has a system for force closing apps built into the Applications Menu under Settings. To force close any app, you merely need to select the app and hit either Stop or Force Close depending on the version of Android you’re on.

The Application Menu makes short work of manually closing applications.

Again, you should rarely have to mess with this menu, but if you ever need to manually close something the option is there.


Closing Apps On Android Tablets and Android 4.0

Application Manager for Ice Cream Sandwich users greatly streamlines the process of closing apps and figuring out what is running in the background. Long Pressing the Home button on Ice Cream Sandwich devices or the Recent Apps button on Android Tablets brings up a handy list of open and recently opened applications.

Changes to Android 3.0 and 4.0 make task management easier.

While the styling and feel of the recent apps screen has changed, it’s basic functionality is the same. Just like Android 2.3 and 2.2, the recent apps menu could display apps that are running the background or recent apps that you’ve pulled up. Regardless, Android 4.0’s big feature is that it allows you to flick the apps off the screen to close them.


The Wrap Up

The question of task management or closing applications is likely to crop up as long as Android itself exists. For most folks, there’s little reason to use a task killer application or even worry about the issue and far better ways to improve performance on your Android device.



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