MULTI-tasking On Android Sucks!


Having recently switched over from the Symbian/Belle platform to Android, a constant comparison between the two is to be expected. Generally, Android has proved a more interesting and engaging platform
for me. The abundance of apps for almost anything you can dream of, is so very welcome.

With meticulous use of Android, it has become clear that the data guzzling reputation on Android is grossly exaggerated.

However, one comparative flaw I have found on Android, is the way it handles its multi-tasking. It is not one of its stellar traits. At best, you could regard it as immature when compared to Symbian/Belle. At worst, the implementation is radically different. And this may not necessarily be a good thing.

I am referring to what I have personally observed, and may not actually be from a technical point of view.

In Symbian/Belle, when you switch from one task to another, you expect to come back and find the former task running the exact way you left it, and not just open in a frozen state!

So can begin a download, for instance, switch to something else, and expect to come back later, to see that download completed. I have not been able to see this kind of MULTI-tasking on Android gingerBread 2.3.4 that powers my Sony xPeria Pro(SxP).

Here is a scenario. I open a blog (let’s say, post a comment. I then switch over to another application. Often, by the time I switch back to the browser, the Browser reloads, and I have to launch all over, with the comment lost.

Another one; I am typing a document on a Text Editor, switch to another app. But by the time I come back to the app handling the doc I was typing, the text has disappeared. It means the text editor was re-launched!

Now, this happens more often than not. Not always, but often enough to Make it annoying.

It would seem that Android appears to prefer populating your device memory with apps it feels you use often. That way, it is presumed that Android can launch your apps faste. This is evident when you kill all apps, and come back to check a few minutes later to find tens of apps still running. What this actually means is that those apps started up all by themselves!

It is also the basis of the argument that Android perhaps, does not need all those Task Killers. You kill tasks now, and they come back into memory (by themselves), so what is the point of killing?

At other times, it looks apparent, in so doing, minimised apps that should not be closed, are sometimes closed. A memory management issue, perhaps?

While an out of memory situation could cause apps to be force closed on any OS, I would imagine that a System Message informing the user, and allowing him decide which app to close – would be a more orderly way of doing things?

I would not know if this happens in Android 4.0 (a.k.a – Ice Cream Sandwich), but I sure would hope that things are done differently in Android 4.1 (Jelly Beans).

What about you? Have you experienced apps closing when you otherwise expect them NOT to?

What strategies do you adopt to circumvent this?

Ibukun Olaoya popularly called Eye.Bee.Kay is a Geek and Mobile Tech Enthusiast, with a passion for Symbian, now with the mission to conquer the world of Android. He is vastly read and hopes to come out with the next big thing in Tech. You can follow him on Twitter at @Eye_Bee_Kay

Do you want to talk about this? You can do this in the comment section below. Your comments are welcomed.

Ibukun Olaoya

Ibukun Olaoya popularly called Eye.Bee.Kay is a Geek and Mobile Tech Enthusiast, with a passion for Symbian, but currently flirting with Android. He is vastly read and hopes to come out with the next big thing in Tech. You can follow him on Twitter at @Eye_Bee_Kay


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21 Responses to MULTI-tasking On Android Sucks!

  1. 06/07/2012 at 18:36

    This is wha I’ve been saying all along. iOS does this “Multi-tasking” better. At least I don’t have that problem of comments of blog sites disappearing. I also can download from certain apps in the background.

    Well, it’s clear Symbian does Multi-tasking best!

  2. 06/07/2012 at 19:22

    A well thought out, and written article based of hands-on experience. This shows the “archaic” Symbian still does certain tasks better than most Modern OSes. However, I’m satisfied with the implementation of multitasking on my iPad. That’s why I am still with it.

    That noted, I’d like to ask, Eye_Bee_Kay! The amount of RAM on the Experia pro!

  3. eye_bee_kay
    06/07/2012 at 20:07

    @AfewGoodmen. the RAM is 335 megabytes..

  4. Harry Echemco
    06/07/2012 at 20:33

    The writer may have some points here, but one problem with his device is insufficient RAM. Less than 400MB. I wrote about my experience on the Tecno T1 Android device some two weeks now. The device has only 200MB visible to the user which obviously mitigates multitasking, and my experience with the Tecno device is akin to what the writer here is describing and yet my experience with my Android device is different.

    My device has 512 of RAM and I very seldomly experience the things he had and of course I mentioned this little on that post about the Tecno T1. So the problem is mostly insufficient RAM than any other thing. Of course some people will prefer warnings from the OS and a dialog box for them to choose what to kill. That’s why Android is better than Symbian, it does not trouble you with those decisions but rather decides for you.

  5. 06/07/2012 at 20:38

    This doesn’t happen on the BlackBerry platform either. On android ics I’ve only noticed it with Tubemate app! Once you leave it to run in the background, the download hangs and has to be restarted.

    Maybe I’ll study my multitasking habits a lil bit more and see if it’s as bad as you’re painting it to be.

  6. 06/07/2012 at 21:01

    Well, I go with Harry. What more could it be than the RAM? Just Saying. Low RAM, Little space to run apps!

  7. 06/07/2012 at 21:34

    I really never wanted to make comment on this post because I do not want to contradict the writer. But thinking about it futher, I realized not making a comment would mean I agree with his observations. I truly cannot say my experience with android platform is same with him. While agreeing that Symbian Multi tasking is excellent, I have no problem with android Multi tasking. In fact, I will conclude that multitasking in android is at par with symbian’s. I have used Sony Ericsson Xperia X10i and I currently use Samsung Galaxy Note. No issues whatever with multitasking. Androids do not freeze app in background. That honour belongs to iOS.

  8. Harry Echemco
    06/07/2012 at 21:55

    I just had some chat with the writer and he has already began to identify some of the culprits. A particular downloaded task manager is set to kill apps when the free RAM space drops to a particular level. It is also set to kill all task when screen locks.

    Yet, another downloaded app, an adblocker inadvertently turns off mobile data when switching tasks, causing any process that is using internet connection at that point to break.

    Finally, majority of the writer’s problems/observations were largely caused by apps he installed. The irony of it all is that those apps were also doing their jobs excellently well, only the writer didn’t take his time observe things well as to arrive at the right conclusion.

  9. Olusheenor
    08/07/2012 at 14:47

    On symbian belle, i can leave opera in the background for hours and i’ll meet it at thesame state i left it. Does that happen on android? On androids have seen around even LG P500 will 512mb ram, have discoverd apps need a restart if u have opend other apps and u have left the previously running app in the background for a while. Correct me if i’m wrong

  10. eye_bee_kay
    08/07/2012 at 19:52

    Well, from what I have experienced so far, if you leave an app in the background in Android, you can not always be sure you will meet your app open.

    I guess there is a fundamental difference in the way the two OSes handle multitasking.

    here is something noteworthy, on Android…

    If the user leaves a task
    for a long time, the system
    clears the task of all
    activities except the root
    activity . When the user
    returns to the task again, it’s
    as the user left it, except
    that only the initial activity is
    present. The idea is that,
    after a time, users will likely
    have abandoned what they
    were doing before and are
    returning to the task to begin
    something new.

  11. belushi
    08/07/2012 at 23:47

    Immediately I read eye.bee.kay’s article I knew there was something wrong somewhere. Even Google had come out to say right from froyo upwards, there was no need for apps killers. The OS takes care of that effectively. I have an s2 with 1gig ram and i don’t experience all these.
    As a matter of fact, i started writing this at national stadium in surulere, switched to Google maps and navigated to ajah. I was chatting on whatsapp and playing music during the journey. Got to awoyaya after like 30mins. Switched back to my comments on opera and met my write up there. I run cyanogenmod (CM9). I may have a better optimized experience than the stock ICS.

  12. Harry Echemco
    09/07/2012 at 02:35

    Well, Shayman’s observations are largely different from mine. I also use LG P500 and just to give you a practical example, the time that this Eye.Bee.Kay’s saga with Mr. Mo started and was hitting, at a point I left that page on for more than 24hrs and always still come back to the page to find it the way I left it and I’ve done that a number of times in the past without issues. And still, I have some important apps that are always running in the background that have remained running in the background as far as I can tell. They are: aNdClip – keeps every bit of text I copied on the system and I have never missed any, ZDBox – displays the battery level in digital format on the notification bar among other important tasks, URSafe CPU Monitor – displays in analog form the usage level of the CPU, Network Monitor Mini – displays in real time the download and upload speed of mobile data, WiFi and Bluetooth traffics in real time and some other downloaded important apps also running in the background and still, Android had its set of apps/services that are always running in the background. Most likely problem of Eye.Bee.Kay is insufficient RAM.

  13. Admin
    09/07/2012 at 15:35

    “That EyeBeeKay saga with Mr. Mo.”?

    Quite unfortunate. This is not the right place to say it, but I think the posts are lopsided and skewed towards Glenda. Whoever the heck he/she is.

    Now back to issue on ground;, The RAM could be the culprit in this issue. I always had the impression that Android could hold its own against Symbian or any other. This article kind of left me wondering. And asking; “Maybe it isn’t like I was thinking…

  14. eye_bee_kay
    09/07/2012 at 16:05

    but I think the posts are
    lopsided and skewed
    towards Glenda. Whoever
    the heck he/she is.

    I think so too o.
    is the world a fair place?

    Imagine ….

    my judgement says eyebeekay should be banned till further notice

    I wonder what sort of Judge sooner people would make.

    This is mostly a Technology Blog. I assume we are all adults, and have some modicum of logical reasoning.

    A man makes a comment – a joke – that is mostly linguistic (womble – wobble, Ces finis – C’est fini). Nothing personal. It was not even directed at this glenda moron. It was directed at Mr Mo. Unless glenda is a Nom de Plume for Mr. Mo, i wonder “which one be glenda’s own”.

    Any thinking person, with his head screwed on right, will arrive at the conclusion I arrived at.

    A faceless fool (a.k.a glenda) butts in as usually, transferring ITs foolishness to somebody else. Note – I can call the glenda clown a fool because glenda said ‘fool’ is not a vulgar word.

    Now, instead of ‘Judge Timi’ engaging his reasoning faculty, he concludes that “eyebeekay should be banned”. He does not see anything wrong in SOMETHING (glenda) attacking another personally personally by hurling an insult (a fool). He has not seen anything delinquent in Mr. Mo-derator putting a halt to this uncouth language.

    In fact Mr. Mo-derator justifies glenda’s vulgarity because eyebeekay is in the habilt of mocking opinions different from his own (abusing the Robot Clan). How PATHETIC !

    Truly- it IS an unfair world, and we all need to demonstrate the need for change in our lives at whatever level / position we find ourselves in life…

    I doubt if this is a memory issue.
    been monitoring my free memory carefully and it seems adequate..still observing..

  15. 21/07/2012 at 14:58

    I have never used an android powered phone/tablet and as such can not say much, but going through all the coments made, it may be safe to say low ram is to blame. Then it is still safe to say symbian OS handles multitasking better, because it is obvious a symbian phone with the same size of ram as this your sony would not behave the same as regards the multitasking and killing of app.
    Hence, for proper multitasking on android, one needs a phone with bigger ram which means only god knows what it would look like if symbian is given that type of ram on S2 or galaxy note. In the end, it is all a matter of Choice.
    I enjoy this post very much because as someone who has never used any android device before, it makes me know before hand what awaits me whenever I decide to go droid like the author of this post.

  16. 18/08/2012 at 08:20

    I am so sick and tired of seeing posts like this which talks about how android is a memory huge compared to symbian which is so efficient at multi tasking .well u know what else is efficient at multitasking? Puppylinux with its icewm window manager and rox file manager that thing can run on a system with just 80mb of ram and run very fast and multitasking like jahovah. But last time I check puppylinux market share is less than o.ooo1% of the desktop market (am sure many here never even heard of it ). Instead everyone use windows whose latest edition require at least 3 gb of ram to run very well. Symbian is memory efficient because it has less than what u see on android. All those nice UI and smooth transitions u see on android ..all the ability to sync with google account and push notifications and nice launchers all the thing which make android awesome all of them require memory. Good things require memory my friends. Nokia learned this the hard way when then shipped the n97 with just 128mb of ram ..well u knew how that ended (it was a multitasking nightmare). And even the 256 ram n8 looks like something from the 70s when compared to the nexus 1. Android quite rightfully requires more ram than symbian. To get the best experience u need a device with more ram. iOS can get away with 512mb of ram because it doesn’t multitask. It just pretends to. Same with windows phone. But with android u can’t eat your cake and have it. You want all the goodies that come with android be prepared to pay the price. Otherwise stick to symbian u can’t have it both ways.

  17. Noni
    18/08/2012 at 11:39

    Barring the ebk vs Glenda debacle (an unnecessary distraction in my opinion), was the premise of this article a bit premature?

    I’ve not experienced this on my old HTC Desire, maybe it is an issue in some cases on some devices? Best to identify the possible problems first before presuming.

  18. Admin
    18/08/2012 at 12:02

    @Noni Right, the point noted. The EBk/Glenda saga ought not to have come up here. Thank you. :)

    Nice issue you raised here too. I’ve always maintained it could be a RAM issue, or something else that should require detailed scrutiny. However, EBK addressed this issue in his subsequent posts.

  19. 18/08/2012 at 13:12

    @bigbrovar, I am excited to have your comment here.

    It would be great to have your views here on issues from time to time.

  20. 19/08/2012 at 18:54

    @eye_bee_kay sure. Have this space bookmarked

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