Android PSA: Stop Using Task Killer Apps

Hello, friends. This is an Android Public Service Announcement regarding the overuse of “task killer” apps in the Android community. Almost everyone has experimented or used one of these apps at one point in their Android life. I wont judge you. In some cases, these apps might have been installed even without your knowledge. I know for a fact that reps at carrier retail stores will download and install these upon buying any of their Android phones. But why? It’s largely in part because of this HUGE misconception that Android needs these apps in order to run properly. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Lets start at the beginning. Everyone knows one of the main benefits with Android is the fact that it — unlike certain other OS’s, can run apps in the background. The more RAM you have installed on your phone, the more apps you can have open at one time for true multitasking and switching between apps. Its quite beautiful actually. This is one of the reasons RAM is such a highly sought after spec when comparing the many Android devices on the market.

I think you can ask any Android user what they hate most about their phone and they will almost always tell you, battery life. Most people know Android is definitely lacking in this department. Well, in an attempt to “think outside the box” a lot of people have come to the conclusion that the reason for the horrible battery life must be because of all those apps that are “running” around in the background. This the reason these misinformed reps install these Task Killer apps onto phones thinking they’re helping customers, when in fact, they’re not. First, Android doesn’t necessarily keep apps “running” in the background like a car for instance. Using gas/CPU even when they’re not being used. They way it works is Android will pause those apps until you return to them. If you don’t come back to the app for awhile, Android will eventually close the app altogether. This requires no intervention from the user what-so-ever.

The other misconception people have with Android and another reason for using a task killer is that they feel like it will some how make their phone perform faster. This has something to do with the thought that “freeing up RAM” is going to somehow make your phone speedier and quicker when doing everyday tasks (I used to believe this as well). But not so. First off, the purpose of RAM is to be used. If you’re not using the RAM, why do you even have it? Second, even when you close out those 20 apps in the background, 20 more will open up in their place. Like Bebe’s Kids. They don’t die, they multiply. Your resistance is futile. I mean, it’s not like Android will keep opening apps in the background until you’re completely out of RAM. That would cause your phone to completely freeze and lock up and wouldn’t make any sense. Android is smarter than that. Instead, it will begin closing the oldest apps still open in the background to make space for new ones. I mean think about it, do you have to manage the RAM on your home computer? No. It just works, right? Same with Android.

Is there a time and place for task killers? Sure. Even I use one from time to time. Just like your computer, there are those times when things go wrong. Sometimes an app can misbehave and become unresponsive. Or perhaps you changed some options in an app and it needs to be closed/killed/stopped so that it can be opened and refreshed. Or maybe you have a game that has gone rogue and really is, in fact, running in the background sucking CPU and RAM and causing your phone to run to a crawl. It’s only in these occasions that using a task manager is acceptable. Even then, for your average noob user, a simple reboot will solve these problems.

For the Android power users that like to monitor and micro-manage everything that goes on in their phone, yes, using a task manager is acceptable. Sometimes I use it to kill off a game that I know I wont be returning to and there’s no reason for it to be open in my background. But I’m anal like that. For your average soccer mom/girl-friend/grandma/Joe Schmo who is just blindly closing every app they can because they were told to, there really is no good reason for them to have these apps installed on their phone. More often than not, they’re going to do more harm than good and ruin their user experience with the phone. This will cause them to run to the iPhone where they don’t (and shouldn’t) have to worry about this sorta stuff. That was the point of this video. So with that. I am done here, folks. I hope this Public Service Announcement helped shed some light on a murky subject going on in the Android world. Now you know and knowing is half the battle. Now, go uninstall that task killer off your mom’s phone.

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  • Club

    rather late to the party, huh?

  • mostlydigital

    I’ve got a task killer.  I use it – on average – once every couple of months.  It’s called a reboot.  Before I got my Froyo upgrade it used to run automatically every day or two.

    • http://mitchs.co Mitch Samuels

      I second this!

    • Renter

      WOW Chavez you are a douche!
      Did he REALLY in his first breath say, “how you doin” and refer to himself as, “Chavez”? WOW man Chavez you seriously are like, “that guy” when you go to a party or hang out with your friends I bet. 
      When you ask your friends whats the best part of Saturday night the response is probably, “dropping Chavez off at his moms house”. That was honestly embarrassing to watch a grown ass man trying to act like he is 19. PAINFUL!! 

      • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

        I am 20  o_O

        • Guest

          20?

        • phoenix

          don’t listen to him. i think you’re a cutie :)

      • Sjobsblows

        Renter – it’s typical anyone who calls someone else a douche is a douchebag himself. Your post is painful to read.  GTFO.

  • RozJC

    I used to have a Task Manager but now I don’t. Apart from the one built in to Go Launcher EX.

  • http://dkworldwide.com/techlife Dave Kaufman – Techlife

    Great POST! In Timeriffic’s FAQ we state first thing to do is make sure the app is excluded from Task Managers. Battery’s number 1 drain – screen brightness.

    • http://twitter.com/DrJeckyl DrJeckyl

      Keep up the good work on Timeriffic! Love it!

  • samuelmaskell

    good article.  I do have a task killer installed but I probably only use it once ever few weeks(at most) when something goes wrong.

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Same here. I mean, I have enough RAM on my Evo that I don’t have to micro manage apps in the background anymore.. Just let it do its thing. =)

      • http://profiles.google.com/rungjonathan Jonathan Rung

        Samuel: Even in these situations, a task killer app is superfluous because if an app is on the fritz and needs to be killed, you can always just go to manage programs, find the offending app, and force stop it, OR go to running services and just tap the app or service, OR (as stated above) just reboot your phone once in a while.

        Chris: you posted this article a while ago so I hope you still see this, but I highly suggest you include “Fast Reboot” (or maybe “fast boot,” not sure) and “Autokiller” (the name makes it sound like a task killer, but it’s not) into your PSA for root users.

        Autokiller in particular is fantastic, and it’s free!  Autokiller lets the user set the memory limits for the foreground app, visible apps, secondary servers, hidden apps, content providers and empty apps. By default, the memory limits can be rather low, and I think people with 1GB RAM on their phone probably do suffer from performance losses when heaps of apps are loaded into various background states, which is probably why things like “advanced task killer” became so popular.

        In the Android market, I always see people complaining about live wallpapers because they “can’t find the app,” so discouraging app killers and explaining the nuances of android’s app management system may be a lost cause, but thanks for trying!

  • ihatefanboys

    task killers are for anal retentive assholes…..so are FFC’s

  • http://www.twitter.com/MaxMoulton MaxMoulton

    sending this to my noob friends right now. thanks for putting into words what I’ve been trying to for awhile now.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jeremy.sheehan Jeremy Sheehan

    Any information on GUI reboot apps?  Are those just as bad as Task Killers?  It’s built in on the Project Elite ROM since v4 (for the OG Droid).  I’ve also seen a few apps out there too, that do the same thing.  

  • B2L

    I have been telling this to my friends for quite some time now and they never believe me. I guess i will have to show them this article and maybe they will finally stop using task killers.

  • Michael Stella

    This is true… But then there are things like background services for apps you never use.  Yes, I’m looking at you, Motorola, what’s with all the services for widgets I never use?  Why can’t I disable them?  Or Skype?

    This is why I was using Advanced Task Killer until I rooted my phone.

    • Matt

      You can disable them but the point is that disabling them don’t gain you anything and in some cases can cause slow down. Let’s say you want to remove skype from ram. When you go back to it, it will have to reload everything again. Instead, you could have left it alone and when you opened it up everything would have been in memory, ready to go.

      • Michael Stella

        Oh sure, but I’m talking specifically about background services for apps (actually widgets) that I *never* use.  MotoBlur installs several of these things which the system starts up whether you have the corresponding widgets on your desktop or not.

        For apps you use, of *course* you want the service doing its thing.  But for apps you don’t use, like what I’m talking about… then a task killer can be useful.

        (or just root it and remove that crap)

  • smartypants4

    The reason I have to use a “task killer” (well, just the Force stop button in the applications settings, really): MyFitnessPal. No idea what it’s doing, but it positively destroys my battery.

    http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/127786-android-app-battery-drain

    • Mark

      Android has a built-in task killer; Settings/Applicaitons//hit “Force Stop”

  • lolwut

    A whole lot of whoopla and ranting, but what’s the harm in using them? Android is about openness and letting people do what they want, maybe stick to that mindset. And, soccer moms? Keep in mind who may be reading this article. Rants like this, even if they do catch wind of them, are only likely to alienate non-techy people. 

    • Brandito

      No harm! no harm in snake oil either, lots of people used to buy that! I hope you realize you’re the schmuck buying the modern day snake oil, congrats!

  • John

    damn you amazons app of the day!

  • erbo

    I have the HTC thunderbolt and every once in a while the phone will get extremely slow and the memory usage is very high. If I use ATK once to kill some of the apps the phone runs fine.

  • TalkingMoose

    It’s a nice attempt, but rather oversimplifies what is going on.  Android is a multitasking system, yes.  How an app runs depends on how it was designed to run. A game app, for instance, doesn’t need to stay resident when not in use.  Close the app and it frees up memory.  Something like a twitter app that receives notifications needs to keep at least a part of itself resident and active.  How active is a matter of design.  A poorly designed app may stay active more than it needs, resulting in battery drain.  (I think I heard some CEO mention something about this).  A better designed app sleeps most of the time, periodically awakening to see if it needs to do something.  The best design would be event driven in which the app stays asleep until the OS nudges it awake.  And if you’ve designed the app so that the notification portion is separate from the UI portion, then only the smaller notification piece needs to be memory resident, and the rest gets pulled in when the app is opened.  

    So do you need a task killer?  In the end, it all depends on the apps.  A task killer is effectively a hack to bludgeon crappy apps to death.  Good apps down’t need one.  OS tasks certainly don’t need them, and will probably be reawakened by a watchdog is you kill them anyway, meaning killing them over and over makes your task killer the app that is using up processing power.

    If an app is killing your battery, dump the app.  You should never need a task killer.  People who push the idea of app killers don’t know how multitasking OSes operate.

    • Me

      To sum this up:  You get what you pay for.

      The handheld market has let thousands (millions?) of BAD coders loose on the world.

      Good luck with that.

      • Mark

        Wow you hate Android, too,, huh?  Guess you didn’t notice this was an Android site?  Happens to me all the time.

      • http://twitter.com/savagejeep SavageJeep

        To sum your comment up:
        Android Market is a true open market where users dictate which apps  succeed (well written) and which are not worth the time (crap app).

        • wakkoman

          LOL you idiot. First it isn’t a “true open” market when Google can and has removed apps from there.

          Second, the market has extremely limited sorting options which doesn’t allow you to separate the good apps from the crap apps.

          • http://twitter.com/binglut9 Brian

            Calling someone an idiot is not a god way to start your peice …you lost all credibility right there.

          • wakkoman

            Idiots should be told they’re idiots. That’s the biggest problem with dumb people. They don’t know that they’re dumb. I’m bringing some clarity to his life.

            Anyways, care to comment on my two points?

          • Idiot

            Anyways isn’t a word you faggot.

          • TalkingMoose

            @wakkoman:disqus Name calling almost always has the opposite effect from what you intend.  Instead of insulting the other person, you typically end up announcing to the world just what kind of person you are, and not in a good way.  Just sayin’

          • SavageJeep

            @wakkoman:disqus Open market as in anyone with a good app has a chance at succeeding. If an app is full of malware and viruses, it’s going to suck and yeah, Google will pull it.As for searching, I have no problems finding great apps. I read the reviews and talk with other mature adults. Plus… I have that button in my market that does separate out the best apps in the whole world. It’s “magical”.

  • Me

    It’s amazing how much effort people put into telling others to stop using task killers.  The sad thing is they are just wrong.  The biggest problem is not all applications quit the same way.  Some use the back button, some quit on the home button, some have a menu option to quit.  And no matter how many times you tell me that “applications pause” when you leave them I will cry BS.  We know things like navigation apps have background tasks to keep track of your position and tell you where you are going even when you quit them.  However even if you do are not navigating, Google maps will still run improperly in the background if you “think” you quit out of it but didn’t do it correctly.  No phone should heat up really hot and kill my battery life when it’s sitting in my pocket, however Android does do that sometimes when a specific application is quit “incorrectly”.  So please stop your religious preaching, that is what is amounts to be.  You are wrong, get over it.

    • Brandito

      You sir haven’t the slightest clue what you’re talking about. Instead of “calling bs” try educating yourself!

      • Me

        Perhaps it’s not me that needs educating but my phone which displays the aforementioned issues.  Perhaps the people who preach this nonsense should point to facts instead of just saying “you don’t need this!” 
        I’ve read countless posts about this but have yet to see ONE person point to anything factual.  I’d love to educate myself but these jackasses aren’t helping because all they do is give anecdotal information which is completely refuted by my real world data.  So thanks for contributing nothing to society.

        • Justin King

          Here, allow me to point to my blog where i not only sttate things factual, but I reference Google as proof that I’m not making things up:

          http://egotoobigtovirtualize.blogspot.com/2011/03/android-battery-goodies.html

          I wish you luck on your personal enlightenment!

          • Marius Piedallu van Wyk

            I just read your blog, and nowhere do you talk about evil carrier and handset apps that run and go haywire. Nor does it talk about how Flash sometimes crashes in Google Reader and I am unable to stop the movies/sound playing on my phone without any discernable app running. Sure App Killers should not be needed, and I for one would not use one to free up memory or save CPU/batter under ideal scenarios.

            But this is the read world, and more often than not I have found my device running hot for no reason, and the battery running down prematurely. And perhaps not app killers, but app managers help me find the offending runaway buggy apps (not all third-party either… I am holy about not installing crap).

            So single-minded and fanatical devotion to doing things either the one or the other way is just a waste of time… what do you care if people use it or find it useful?

          • Brandito

            you don’t need a task killer to kill a running process, you can do it from within android.

            either way if you’re just using it to manually kill a rogue app from time to time, no one is arguing that is a bad thing. The fact is you don’t need a task killer running in the background auto killing tasks.

            talk about single minded, you’ve obviously not paid attention to anything in the above article!

          • Alex Paulson

            The thing that you may not notice is that task killers running in the background will 95% of the time use more battery than the process(es) would if left alone. If it is a badly written app that sucks battery in the background there is a simple fix; uninstall. I cannot describe with words how much i hate it when people come up to me (my friends know me as the Android/tech go-to guy) and say they want to return their phone due to battery/overheat issues. I look through their phone, and find what apps are using the most battery. I then uninstall the app and OMG the  battery life drain is gone and the overheating issue went with it. They were going to take the hassle of switching phones or paying to get a replacement because they were too oblivious to uninstall an app that has 35% of their battery usage yet they’d used it once that day. As of Android 2.2, task killing is effectively embedded into the OS. It kills processes as it needs more RAM. I, along with everyone else, used a task killer on my OG Droid when i had 2.1. Back then, it was needed when you wanted to kill apps to continue multitasking. That is no longer needed. Trust me, it is not the OS’s fault if you are having bad battery/overheating. You either have installed a poorly coded application, or you are misusing it.

            For example, Navigation apps of course are hard on the battery, but it is the USER’s fault if they don’t close out of it. Google Maps (the only navigation app I will ever use) stops using any battery if i simply back out of it or even hit the home button. This is because it is very well coded. Other apps may require additional steps to close them, which again, is to the fault of the user if they don’t close it correctly. Do not blame the OS.

            Try out this app:

            Froyo Task Killer
            By: S.Tachibana

            For people stuck on Froyo, that app displays the apps still running, but when you click on them it brings you to the BUILT-IN app management page for that app, and allows you to use Android’s Force-Close button to close it.

          • Justin King

            Flash crashes aren’t solved by a task killer.
            “evil carrier and handset apps” aren’t solved by a task killer.

            Any poorly written app is wiped _completely_ from memory and process the moment it isn’t in the foreground of your screen (unless explicitly programmed to stay running in which case it has a notification icon) and stops being a problem unless it has a registered service set to kick off …. in which case all your task killer is doing is repeatedly  stopping a service and doing _nothing_to_solve_the_root_of_the_issue.

            Why do I care when I see people running them?  Seems like you’re over-reacting a bit. I saw his (and your) info to be flawed, so i linked to the facts.  If you refuse to acknowledge when _Google_ says to stop using task killers then good for you.  Doesn’t make you right.

          • Me

            “The power consumed by your memory is constant weather it’s storing a 0 or a 1″ 

            I see, so programs that constantly copy data into memory over and over and over and over are using no more battery than if memory wasn’t being written to.  I’ll go ahead and say you are wrong.

            I’m pretty sure you didn’t read the article you linked because you quote it incorrectly and completely miss the fact that it says that Android forces closed applications to gain RAM back for applications that need it.  (sounds oddly familiar)

            That article clearly states that they do not shut down applications like a traditional desktop OS.  It also clearly states that they have to battle against bad programmers who can easily create rogue applications.

            I’m pretty sure Android is still working out the kinks in this design, while many people are stuck on 2.2 they are dangled with 2.3.3+ which promises “better battery life”  How is this possible if all the apps written that suck battery life haven’t been changed?  It’s because the OS is still infantile and they are still working on the best way to address all the design issues they made to make it a mobile OS (one of them spelled out in the article is by having a better internal task killer.)

            Thank you for educating me that I was correct.

            While I do realize bad developing is partly to blame, the OS is as well.  We can only hope that both sides continue to improve.

          • Brandito

            So your devotion to screwing up your phone runs so deep you can’t accept any “facts” unless they support your own cackpot theories? theories you formulated through sheer ignorance?

            You keep that task killer running buddy, in fact download a few of them, have them fight to kill each other, make it into an all out war on your phone to see how quickly you can kill the battery and make multitasking no longer useful!

          • Luiz

            I have the same problem, and even if some geniouses said that i shoudn’t use a task killer, some apps keep overheating my phone. So I say, you need a task killer for a ‘aways in beta android’. And, yes, my real data is my phone, a Milestone 2. I know that Latitude can freeze my phone so I have to remove my battery, other applications sometimes keeps my phone in a slow mode and the only one that saves me is my task killer.

            If I should not use a task killer, Google should dedicate much more time to fix this problems and stop this bs.

            I am not ‘holding’ my Android Wrong,

          • Djindigenous

            you know i just checked my task killer and i got like 8 apps running in the background and hay guess what…..my phone is cool…maybe you can come over and use my phone to cool of your phone…so i guess that ones again you have proven that you have know idea what your talking about…. maybe you should stopp talking out of your a** before you look like one…o weight …too late….!

        • http://paddy.io/ Paddy Foran

          Well, here are the facts for you:

          Android is built on three things: Activities, Services, and Broadcast Receivers. Activities are the screens you see. Each screen is an activity. Services are background threads– you never see them. Sometimes they leave a notification running to let you know they are there, but otherwise you have no idea if it’s running. Broadcast Receivers I personally haven’t worked with, so I can’t speak to them much, but you never see them, and they only exist to be notified of events on the phone. To my knowledge, they are never “quit”, so we’re going to ignore them for this lesson.

          For the sake of argument, we will say an app is “quit” when it is using no RAM or CPU.

          Now, this is the important bit. Any app of significant complexity (a Twitter client, a map app, a game, etc.) is almost NEVER quit except for when the phone is first booted, before the app is run. Sometimes, even then it’s not quit, as some apps are set to run on startup.

          So for the purposes of this, we’ll be talking about Activities and Services, and how their lifecycle is controlled.

          Activities are called when you start an app, or when the app loads a new screen. That means if you’re in a Twitter client and are looking at your timeline, then open a compose screen, chances are, you’ve started a new Activity, and now have TWO running. An Activity has many states, but only three are really relevant to this discussion: running in the foreground, paused, and killed. There are only six ways in which an Activity can be killed, and all of them apply to all apps, except the one I noted: a force close/crash, changing the screen orientation (kills an Activity, and restarts it), hitting the back button, the Activity killing itself (only available in some apps), the system killing off an older Activity to free up RAM, and the back button. If an Activity has been killed, the two most likely candidates are that the user hit the back button and the system killed it to free up RAM (which the user probably wouldn’t notice).

          You’ll note that hitting the home button is not in that list. That’s because hitting the home button NEVER kills an activity. Instead, it “pauses” the activity. An Activity gets paused in a few ways: A new Activity is opened, the user hits the home button, or some interrupt (the low battery notification, an incoming call, etc.) occurs. When an Activity is paused, it is consuming CPU and RAM as it waits to be resumed. The paused applications are the ones that Android kills off to free up space. You never need to worry about them, because Android does it for you.

          That’s activities explained. If Activities were all there was, this PSA would be right on the money. Android is smarter than you, written by people most likely smarter than you, and it knows more about itself than you do. It can take care of itself.

          Activities are not the only option an app has, though. It also has Services available to it. Services are run in the background, with no user interface to speak of. They are either running or killed. Again, Android handles it for you: the app starts the Service when it needs it, and Android kills the Service when it needs the resources or the app kills the Service when it is done with it.

          And if that were the full story, I’d still say the PSA had no caveats. It’s not the whole story.

          Android allows Services to make themselves immortal. By setting a flag, an app developer can tell Android that no matter how badly Android needs resources, the Service is not to be killed. Right, wrong, or indifferent, this is something app developers can do. That’s where the Task Killer story gets complicated.

          Some developers may use that flag carelessly. I would submit, however, that their apps aren’t very good, because they are careless with their software. Installing an app is a matter of trust: do you trust the app author with your phone?

          In the end, the author knows more about the app than you do. The author should be writing code so that the app isn’t drinking your battery dry. Yes, there are bugs sometimes. Yes, sometimes things are left running when they shouldn’t be. In that case, as the author said, you can either reboot or use Android’s built-in force close button. If these situations are common, you probably should just uninstall that app. A Task Killer is not going to make a bad app good.

          By using Task Killers, you’re just disrupting the app author’s expectations of what state an app will be in. The best apps will handle this gracefully. Some worthwhile apps may be thrown for a loop by it, though.

          By all means, it’s your phone. Do what you want with it. But to say that Task Killers are a necessity on Android is a grossly mistaken opinion, and one that belies how little its holder knows about how Android works.

          • Len

            I keep a task killer on my phone for 1 reason. I trust Android, but I do not trust devs. Mainly, ads in app. Once I close an app, I don’t want to see ads from that app. When an app creates an immortal service to notify me on the price of an item their sponcer is selling I have now 2 choices. Kill the task or uninstall the app. Appkillers let me make use of these app without my device becoming a billboard.

          • TalkingMoose

            Uninstalling apps that do things you don’t like sends a message that certain practices won’t be tolerated.

          • No_Nickname90

            LoL!! You schooled me more than you did that other guy. o.O

            LoL!!

        • https://launchpad.net/~isantop Ian

          If the app isn’t on the screen, it isn’t doing any work. Whether you close it by pressing the back button, or using the home button, or using a menu option, if you can’t see it running on the screen, it isn’t using the CPU. if you open it back up, Android keeps running the process using data stored in RAM. The app will stay loaded in RAM while running and until there isn’t enough free space left for it to stay, at which point, Android pushes it off the list. This way, you’ll always have enough free RAM for an app you want to load. it also improves performance for apps you use a lot since the phone doesn’t have to go to the slow flash storage and re load the app into memory – it’s already there.

          There are some apps, like Music, Navigation, Gmail, Phone, etc. that do have background services. The Music player can play music without being open, the navigation app can navigate, etc. These apps use a daemon process to do this. Daemons are very small and consume very little resources, since they don’t have to draw an interface. Daemon is a Linux term; I believe Android calls them servicees, but the idea is the same. 

          Also, keeping data stored in RAM takes no more power than keeping RAM empty. If you want to cut battery consumption from RAM, you need to remove RAM, not keep it empty.

    • DannyB2

      Apps don’t “quit” like they do on a desktop OS.

      OTOH, you may get out of an app, come back to it later, it’s exactly how you left it, but in the meantime Android had terminated the app before you relaunched it.

      If there is an app that makes your phone warm in your pocket, can you be sure which app it is?  I use Google Maps, and occasionally Navigation as well.  I’ve never had that problem.

      Before Froyo, I used a task killer.  When I got Froyo, I found I didn’t need one anymore.

      • Me

        Does it matter which app it is?

        If I have no actively running foreground apps (that show a GUI) and the only thing I’ve done is run Google Maps and hit the home button, I probably shouldn’t have a steaming hot phone within a few minutes.  There have already been people posting here that have said the same thing, I’ve had multiple issues with this on multiple Android phones.  So I doubt it’s a hardware defect…

        Now this could be a case of bad programming, an errant process or infinite loop that is killing CPU causing the battery to freak out.  In either case, is our OS supposed to protect us from that?  If it doesn’t, should I use an application that will monitor and kill rogue processes?

        • DannyB2

          It could very well be bad programming.  I was wondering how you could be sure of which app is the problem.  It could happen on multiple devices, if you install the same apps.

          Just suggesting it might not be Google Maps.  Or it might be.

          It just seems like other people are not experiencing this problem.  I suppose, in your case, it is a good thing that you are able to use a task killer.

        • TalkingMoose

          Do you know it’s Google Maps or are you assuming that it is?  If you looked at active tasks with something like Astro and saw which tasks were the problem children in terms of CPU you’d know better which apps to keep and which to dump.  It’s also possible for any task to go rogue if you start messing with something it needs.  Task killers could kill off something that causes another task which needs and expects it to go runaway, actually causing problems rather than solving them.

        • Me 2

          You sir, are a perfect candidate for an iPhone. Would you like  it in black or white? 

        • Djindigenous

          you must have a htc phone ! maby a…..nexis one perhaps…?

    • ScottColbert

      So which taskkiller app did you develop? 

    • Brandon Peters

      The information is there if you really wanted to find it, automatic takskillers are not needed in android, if you use android, then you should have heard about GOOGLE, use it, and see why taskillers are not needed.

      • Me

        Google Search Results:

        “are android task killers necessary”
        About 981,000 results

        “android phone running hot”
        About 143,000,000 results

        Lets go ahead and assume that 99% of phone running hot is because of the foreground task of people watching YouTube.

        That still leaves over a million people with their phone running hot for no reason.

        Thanks GOOGLE!

        Wait, what was your point again?

        • http://twitter.com/binglut9 Brian

          Running hot very general…my phone runs Luke warm sometimes but so does my xoom its normal.the processor gives off heat part of the phone. Many people that just got introduced to android came from a feature phon. They don’t understand what’s normal or not normal. I don’t use a task manager…I just use the built in one

        • Guest

          Search results = people?

        • Brandon Peters

          My point is you should not ASSume, you will only make yourself look the way you are looking now.

        • Djindigenous

          have fun with your hot phone dumb a**… maybe we’ll all come over and roast hot dogs off your battery cover…!

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1493843190 Hussain Al Jeshi

          r u retarded ?? what does search results have to do with anything if u dont know theyre not ppl theyre simply a link to a website 

    • riffwaffle

      sad you think so..he is right buddy

    • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

      You know…  I think there is a certain amount of truth to both sides.

      The problem is anyone that wastes their breath on this either has no idea what they are talking about, or has a clear bias.

      And what about when I kill tasks while plugged in, and then 5 minutes later unplug it (after everything that is going to restart has plenty of time to do so)?  Are these anti task killer people really going to try and tell me it’s still a bad idea?

      I probably should just ask Steve Jobs.  At least with him I know to do the complete opposite in regards to Android (this statement is actually more serious then trollish).

    • No_Nickname90

      Pressing the Home button doesn’t quit the app. It pauses it. Pressing menu to go to quit, obviously quits the app and pressing the back button quits the app. Notice. Go to your phone. Type numbers and press home then go back to phone. The numbers are still there. The app didn’t close, just paused.

      Do the same, but this time press back. Go back to it and you will see that the numbers are gone. The app closed.

      You see, different apps “should know” when not to use resources. Thats why the Maps app stops using the GPS when you leave the app regardless if you press home or back. If you actually turn GPS on and go to maps, then press home, you’ll see your GPS turn off and not being used. Saying the maps app still is using your GPS is wrong. And I’m talking about the stock app, not some app a random person made. Thats your problem there “random person or team made”.

      My GPS turns off everytime I leave my maps app regardless if I quit or home button, and every time I go back, the map app has to relocate me. Unless I’m using the navigation. Than obviously it will stay running, I mean the navigation is telling me where to go. So I’m pretty sure you’re not talking about that. Hopefully.

  • dominiej

    Great article! But apps can run out of control (rarely) so be sure to go get Watchdog FREE from Amazon today only. It isn’t an app killer as it is more of a monitor for rogue apps… http://amzn.to/ikFdgo

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Xorg-Kc/100000867435778 Xorg Kc

      I also use Android Assistant for the Startup Manager.  There are lots of apps that startup that I don’t need running unless I actually launch it.  They just waste RAM and some persistently want to stay loaded.  Phone with less than 512MB RAM could probably use a little bit of management if you know what your’e doing.

      • Brandon Peters

        This is the problem exactly, RAM is WASTED when it is not in use, the kernel will kill off the apps that are not needed whenever you open the apps that you want to use, it amazes me that I have an HTC Magic and I have absolutely no need for a task killer, My phone would have only 28 MB free out of the minuscule 191 and my phone will be as snappy as it can be. How come ppl with phones that has better specs than mine feel the need to use a task killer is really beyond me……

      • TalkingMoose

        If an app isn’t actively using the RAM and another task needs it, the memory manager swaps out the inactive pages and reloads them with the needed ones.  If the task is running in the background and actively using the memory even though it should be idle, bad app design.  Again, using a task killer to correct bad programming practices.  On the other hand, without task killers, bad apps get more visibility and the developers either learn to program or their apps just fade away… 

  • http://profiles.google.com/bitflipster Mark Gjoel

    An application CAN continue to run in the background, if it is told to pause, but doesn’t stop it’s background threads. Android kindly tells the app to stop, it doesn’t force “pause” all the threads. So there a task killer is beneficial.

    An app is only given access to this much memory. The amount of memory depends on the size of the display, and the amount of pixels on it, but it is in the ballpark of 32MB – On small devices I guess, it’s been a while since I checked this last. So fear of memory leaks is unwarranted, as Android will kill the app if it exceeds it’s limits.

    A task killer might reveal running services for apps that you feel shouldn’t have services running. This can also be found in settings, so technically the task killer isn’t necessary here. For instance the music player moodagent runs two services at all times. I don’t like this – I see no reason why this should be necessary – so I resolved to uninstalling it: To save battery!

    • Someone_asdf

      From gingerbread on, you no longer need one anyway.

      The application page shows which are running, paused, etc. paired with the battery usage app which tells you if there are misbehaving apps, I’ve never needed to waste space on a task killer app.

  • Acetylyne

    I agree for the most part with what you’re saying, but for some older / low RAM phones, an app like AutoKiller can be very helpful.  It is not a task killer per-say, but it adjusts the tolerated limits of android’s natural memory management system to kill idle apps faster.  I think there should be a distinction made between task killers and minfree editors (all of which to my knowledge require root though)

  • BSU2006

    This post does not address battery usage which is the 100% main reason people seek these apps. A dormant phone uses much less battery than one using the processor.

    • BobbyJ

      I think you missed the third paragraph, which explicitly addresses your misconception. Unless you have some particular service actively running (which you would generally not want to kill, as one would assume you would have started it), apps that are “running” in the background aren’t actually utilizing the CPU at all. Rather they are simply suspended so that they can come back faster when you want to come back to them. In fact, if you do close such things with a task killer, the OS has to do more work to restart it than it would if you had just left it alone, and that extra work actually leads to worse battery life.

      • jim

        This doesn’t make sense.  In a ‘true’ multitasking app things are simply sitting in RAM if they are in the background .. they can be running!!  That’s the problem .. you don’t know what they are going to do and since there is no common API to channel updates (i.e. like iOS does) each app manages things differently.

        In a world of well written apps androids approach is better, in a world of apps that misbehave occasionally apple’s approach gives a more consistent user experience because apps have defined rules and services to pull data from in a limited fashion.

        • Brandito

          you CAN know what they’re doing, just look at their cpu time and wake time, it’s built right into the OS!

    • Brandito

      Task killers HURT battery life. Did you read the article OR watch the video? They unnecessarily end tasks that aren’t using ANY extra power to begin with which actually uses more power than it would have to leave them alone in the first place, then those same killed apps just start back up eventually anyways using even more power, power they wouldn’t have used had you not been running the task killer!

      Your little quip at the end is flawed in its logic. The phone can never be dormant when you have a task killer running in the background fixing problems that were never problems.

      You are your own worst enemy in this case.

  • Joe

    Samsung phones have it built in when you long press the home button, you have a task manager.

    I use it occasionally, when Launcher Pro is locking up etc.

  • don anderson

    I do not use task killers for the reasons stated above. I downloaded Watchdog for free from Amazon which is great. It started spamming me immediately to tell me my Engadget widget was consuming 40% of my CPU. I killed it and now it works normally. Selectively killing rogue apps is sometimes necessary.

    • Me

      So you agree the above stated reasons are ridiculous and that task managers are necessary.  However you stated it kind of oddly.

      • Someone_asdf

        No he agrees with the article. Only rogue, buggy apps need to be shut down. A reboo of the phone would be easier for the soccer moms.

        Plus you can shut things down without using a task manager, using the built In one

    • killerbee3

      Exactly.  Hitting ‘end all’ or just ‘murdering’ apps that you don’t understand why they’re running isn’t the same as effectively managing a process that is taxing the CPU more than it should. Watchdog is a great example of that.  Or SystemPanel for that matter.  Both have integrated Task Killers but people see that and immediately go ‘ZOMG dat is sooooo bahd.’

      Not to mention this news is OLD.  They must not have much for Chris Chavez to do if he was ‘tasked’ with making a video on why ‘task killers’ are a no no.  

      Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised.  I don’t know what’s been older for longer, this goofy hairstyle or task killer news and why you shouldn’t be using them.  

  • wakkoman

    It’s so hilarious and ironic android fanboys champion their “real” multitasking, yet some of them recommend using task killers. LOL

    Regardless, Apple did multitasking right on smartphones. Android’s version offers no benefits over Apple’s system, except for being less efficient and a bigger drain on the battery.

    • New_Guy777

      No, Apple’s multi-tasking isn’t true multi-tasking.  Except for a few core apps, such as the phone of the music, no app actually continues running in the background.  For instance, if you start a YouTube video, and then try opening another app, the YouTube video STOPS, because the program is no longer running.

      Not so with Android.

      • wakkoman

        Um have you ever used an Android device?

        On my Nexus S, If I’m watching a Youtube video in the youtube app and I switch to another app, the video stops and I don’t hear any more audio. Try it. If you have Android that is…

        Apple lets chat clients, streaming music/radio, gps etc all run in the background. Basically whatever needs to, they have given APIs for, and everything else is pushed by notification to the phone. That is much more efficient than having Android apps constantly polling for updates and makes the difference in battery life.

        • jim

          You are right.  I think apple made a good decision here.  There are a few cases where android works better for what I need (ex. pulling down podcasts via doggcatcher) – but in general apple’s approach makes for a VERY consistent user experience that isn’t laggy at times for unexplainable reason.

          It’s a shame, because as a software developer I LIKE android’s way because it opens more powerful doors, but it really causes more problems than it solves.

        • New_Guy777

          Umm, yes, I’ve owned one for over two years now.

          I root, of course, and I care.  Right now, I’m looking at my homescreen, and music from YouTube is playing in the background.

          Also, see http://gearsofbiz.com/mobile/sorry-but-the-multi-tasking-glitter-you-desire-isnt-in-ios/

          • wakkoman

            You must be retarded. Android doesn’t allow you to play any Youtube video in the background. Not through the app, and not through the browser. If you have to hack Android and the youtube app to allow you to do it, that’s besides the point. I’m talking about what Android does stock vs iOS does stock.

            And WTF do you want me to see in the site you linked me to? At least give me some framework. I don’t have time to read through all that, much less argue with idiots like you.

        • DroidDev

          Hmmm….”and everything else is pushed by notification to the phone. That is much more efficient than having Android apps constantly polling”….. you say.  I assume those notifications happen magically on the iPhone rather than “constantly polling”.  #grownupsdontbelieveinmagic

  • Freshmaker

    +1 for Watchdog (free today in Amazon App Store).  I’ve been using Watchdog Lite for months, and use it maybe once every couple of months if I’ve downloaded an app that is running amok in the background.  It notifies you if CPU utilization gets above a certain threshold for something running in the background, and seems to work well.

  • dawankler

    I don’t know if this is always true.  I’d agree 100% for well designed and coded apps that you are correct, you really don’t need them.

    The problem is, not everyone codes their apps properly.  It’s entirely possible to quickly drain a battery with a running background service that’s constantly polling GPS location or checking web services for updates.  Sure, most of the time you either WANT it to be doing that, or can turn it off, but there are times you can’t.  The worst offender I can think of is the one thing I’ve used an auto-taskkiller for: the OmaDRMConfig service on the first few iterations of the Epic 4G.  It’s baked into Samsung’s Media Hub and so was impossible to uninstall without root, and killing that background service gave noticeable battery gains.

    • iamthecosmos

      I agree… Most times like as Chris says, there isn’t the need for the average user to use a task killer… but sadly there are some poorly coded apps out there that can drive your cpu crazy and drain battery fast – sadly, not even Gingerbread can recognise these rogue processes first and shut them down or alert you (as I will hope in future Android versions). I can give a recent example similar to what ‘Me’ suggests above… my phone was in my pocket (+ in a pouch) but I was still able to notice my phone was VERY hot!  After going into Settings>About Phone>Battery Usage I could see that ‘AP News’ was the guilty app and was taking about half of my battery without me even once using the app or widget that day!  Like ‘dawankler’ above, this app is another one pre-installed by Samsung and so can’t be removed without rooting.  
      Still despite these occasional rogue apps (check under Settings>Applications>Running Services>Running and you too will probably see apps running that you haven’t used in a while and have no intention to, and yet they are taking up RAM) I don’t use an extra task killer… the inbuilt Task Manager on my SGS2 + using the inbuilt Android methods of checking running services, and checking battery usage (and stopping any rogue ones) are enough to do the job for me.  BTW When I was trying out GoLauncher, I used the Task Killing widget and just like Chis says in his video, you can visually see apps load straight back up after you kill them!

      In summary I agree that most of the time people shouldn’t need an extra task killer – Android does a decent job of freeing up enough free RAM, and there are inbuilt Android systems that amount to task managing.  My only problem is that I think Android could deal better with rogue apps, such as in my example above.  Hopefully ICS will be even better in this regard!

  • Tom

    This is completely unrelated but I am hoping someone on here may be able to help me, the power button on my Nexus one is losing sensitivity and I was wondering where to go to get it repaired. I’m in Canada and my carrier is bell if that helps

  • New_Guy777

    THIS IS RIDICULOUS.  I shouldn’t have to go through a 3 minute shut-off, reboot cycle just because an app went awry.

    Task Killers DO make certain, high-intensity apps run better.  Period.

    Example-FroYo Vibrant running an EDT ROM has no problems running 720p YouTube videos in the browser unless you are low on the available RAM.  Why?  Because RAM is being used as a buffer, and low amounts of available RAM limit how much can buffer.  And we all know how much Flash needs buffer room.  Flash videos always play smoothly right after I run a task killer.  I’ve noticed the difference so much that I now will find the web page, go home, hit Task Killer, and then go right back to the web page.  That’s 5 seconds.

    No Android phone in the world can reboot in that time, and the Flash plays beautifully.

  • https://market.android.com/details?id=com.eddiehsu.mathgame Eddie Hsu

    Android dev here and I agree task killers are no good. It messes with the application life cycle, causing apps to force close. I needed to add special code to deal with people using tsk killers. Also those random reboots that people get are also a result if using task killers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Vexxecon Spencer Cole

    I use Advanced Task Killer Pro, and it leaves front end apps alone, and needed processes alone. The only thing I use it for is to close all apps that aren’t needed so I can keep everything fresh.

  • Justin King

    I blogged about this awhile ago when talking battery saving tips … complete with Google references so it’s not fictional:

    http://egotoobigtovirtualize.blogspot.com/2011/03/android-battery-goodies.html

  • ilh

    The Desire (at least) has a tendency to become sluggish when it gets to around 100 MB RAM left which is more than enough for it to run well but for whatever reason it doesn’t. I have a task killer because I can tell in an instant when it’s got to this stage and so I kill off a couple of things. While Froyo helped tremendously with the memory management in that it doesn’t get the this stage anywhere near as often as it did with Eclair, it still happens perhaps a couple of times a week.

  • Lame article

    I have noticed remarkable decrease in phone lag after using a taskiller widget to kill background apps on my Nexus S.

  • feztheforeigner

    Maybe mention android versions less than 2.0. My friend has an xperia x10 on 1.6 and I found a task killer on his phone. Just when I was about to tell him to get rid of it, I thought maybe android before 2.0 didn’t know quite how to deal with all those apps. Should he get rid of it?

  • http://androidforums.com Talton “Phases” Pettigrew

     Verizon installed ATK on both my parent’s phones without them knowing. They didn’t use it at all or even know what it was but it sat in there notifications bar all the time. I removed it instantly, wish VZW would cut it out.

  • PalacaJoe

    This video is total BS. You’re BSing along, and then you contradict yourself at 5:20. What makes you a power user vs. a noob. Your Jimmy-Newtron-meets-Guy-Fieri hairstyle indicates you don’t have the best judgement, so I hesitate to take your advice. I know from experience that when my Incredible is chugging, I can tap on AdvancedTaskKiller and it will kill 15 or 20 apps (apps that I didn’t start and have no reason to run like MyVerizon) and the phone’s performance returns to normal.

    • http://www.xrks.com/ intangible

       There are problem apps out there, perhaps it’s killing the problem app by happenstance, try to track that down instead.
      The task killers I’ve seen use too much resources themselves (always running in the background trying to catch another app so it can kill it)… Not to mention that some apps will restart themselves or their dependent services over and over when the task killer kills the needed service and actually increase battery usage that way (relaunching a service over and over uses a lot more battery than just letting it “pause” in the background unless it’s horribly written).

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Your’e right. My hair makes me a noob. o_O

  • Abc

    The only time I use taskiller is before running benchmark, other than that there’s no real  use for it these days, g1 days were a must. 

  • UniteUs

    The notion of using a task killer EVERY time you close an app is moronic…equally so is the notion that you do not need a task killer at all.

  • Sorry_got_these_sacks

    Okay, I don’t use taskkillers, but what about CacheMate? Can I wipe out the cache on my D1 from time to time so that LauncherPro works? Also about how much free RAM should one keep on his phone for it to run smoothly? >75MB?

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      Android will manage RAM perfectly on its own. And yeah, CacheMate is awesome. But only like once a week. Every day, or multiple times a day isn’t necessary at ALL. 

  • Toeshot

    I conducted an experiment one time. I kept my G1 running for a week with out having to charge the battery. The battery drain comes from all the apps that communicate data over the network. if the apps did not do this the battery would be fine.

  • Stev J

    RAM is one thing, and I understand Android manages RAM relatively well. ***BUT*** not all apps stop using cpu cycles. that is why you have to have one if you like a bad.

  • http://twitter.com/RobbThundr Robb Manlapaz

    no one tells me what to do

  • Collin P

    Watchdog is free on the amazon app store for the next 11 hrs if anyone is curious.. Replace it with your task killer its worth it :)
    http://www.amazon.com/mobile-apps/b?ie=UTF8&node=2350149011
    or lite just has ads/lacks blacklisting
    https://market.android.com/details?id=com.zomut.watchdoglite&feature=search_result

    It’s not a taskkiller but it monitors your apps that go haywire and allows you to kill it if need be.. works amazing :)

  • Votum76

    I only keep a task killer on my phone for the occasional misbehaving program and that’s the only thing I use it for, I agree that automatic task killers are a problem as well as manual task killers that people overuse. But I don’t see how waiting for my phone to reboot is preferable to using a task killer to quickly exit the one bad task.

  • kwaping

    OS Monitor and a little knowledge are an Android user’s best friends.

  • Fins1771

    Rooted EVO user here, and I haven’t used one in forever and my phone runs great. I used to be a task killer app smashing fool. Just try it. Give it a day or two. Put down your ATK and just see what happens. If you don’t like it, re-install it. You’re killing apps running in the background that Android is using hence why they all magically restart right after you killed them. My experience you don’t need task killers. Running Virus Kingdom Revolution b1.3. Runs great. If you reboot you phone daily you should never need a task killer.

  • mrsbelpit

    Oh my god, “We Bebe’s kids!”

  • tliebeck

    DISCLAIMER: Please understand that I am a
    developer who has created an application which competes with
    task killers by providing an alternative solution. While I believe these statements to be true and backed by research done before creating the product, you should take this bias into account.

    I’m the author of SystemPanel, which includes task management functionality (i.e., the ability to view and/or terminate tasks).  The most commonly requested feature (which will NOT be implemented) is to add “automatic task killing”, i.e., a service which sits in the background and periodically terminates all running tasks.

    I’ve been saying the same thing as Chris since the release of SystemPanel more than one year ago:

    http://android.nextapp.com/site/systempanel/doc/taskmanagement
    http://android.nextapp.com/site/systempanel/doc/autokill

    Did the research during the initial development of the product.   Even talked to Google developers about the issue.  Let’s just say it was a very easy decision to NOT include automatic task killing.

    There are cases where rogue apps will run unnecessarily in the background.  If you install a poorly written or otherwise malfunctioning app and it constantly consumes resources in the background (i.e., CPU rather than memory), an automatic task killer can actually improve your battery life.  But it’s a terrible “band-aid” solution.  The proper solution is to determine what app is causing the problem and UNINSTALL it (then contact the developer about the problem, and/or find an alternative). 

    This is the approach which was taken with SystemPanel’s monitoring service.  Android itself does it too with its “Battery Use” feature, but it lacks the ability to show WHEN the battery usage occurred and under what conditions. 
    For example, when application X drank your battery by consuming 30% of the CPU for two hours, was the phone actually in use with the display on?  Example: http://android.nextapp.com/content/systempanel/screen/ProcessDetailsTrackRecord2.png

    The monitoring service queries the state of the phone every 15 minutes and records it to show the system state over time (we’re retrieving and timestamping data already stored by the Linux OS, it doesn’t have to run “constantly” to record usage).  You can then review this data and solve the problem.  It doesn’t prevent your battery from being drained in the first place, but it helps provide you with the information to prevent it from happening again tomorrow.

    • Aaron Sua

      I am a user and avid fan of your application.  When I go to the local carrier store to test out new devices it is one of the first things I install so I can stop all the unnecessary applications.  I recently went to AT&T to test the Atrix (and prove that more than 512MB of RAM was available to apps, which I did successfully also thanks to system panel).  When I first picked up the device I was disappointed at how sluggish it’s performance seemed.  After installing SP I discovered that nearly every application was still in RAM using more than 800MB.  After killing everything the phone performed much better.  It fairly quickly got back up to ~230MB of used RAM, but that didn’t effect the performance at all.

      First let me say that a good majority of the issue with running out of RAM is the fault of the 3rd party apps and how they communicate to the OS when they can be killed.  The worst of these are apps which automatically spin up processes for whatever reason.  The average user is often oblivious to when these get started and how long they run for.  One or two rogue apps doesn’t usually cause an issue.  However as more and more are installed the RAM gets used up.

      Free RAM is important and effects performance.  Some things that are important to understand about RAM that some often forget.  Most often chunks of RAM addresses used by an application are selected at ‘gasp’ RANDOM.  So if you have a pool of 512MB of RAM and your active applications have used up 400MB of it and you go to open a new app that needs 50MB of RAM it isn’t necessarily available because the 400MB in use isn’t sequential.  The RAM then needs to be defragmented (of sorts) to make room for that 50MB usage.  This becomes worse when your free RAM is less than what a running application requests.  Android will start to kill off apps to free up the RAM.  This takes time.  It takes time to close the app correctly and it may want to write data to the storage device.  Then once the correct amount of RAM is available it will likely need to be defragmented.  Depending on your CPU and RAM speeds this can become noticeable to the end user.  

      IMHO Android could benefit from two enhancements to help protect users from poorly developed apps.

      1) A user definable threshold for used RAM and running apps.  For example: if I have more than 5 apps running consuming 75% of my RAM start shutting things down to get under that threshold.  
      2) Allow users to blacklist certain apps from automatically starting up.  Skype (at least in the past) would constantly spin up in the background and there was nothing I could do about it.  However I needed the app as I used skype as a baby monitor when I needed to go out and mow the lawn.  I found myself constantly installing and uninstalling the app.

  • phact0rri

    When Ram goes to 30k, my phone will run horribly.  Task Killer, helps my phone run where I don’t want to throw it across the wall.  Also I get 36/48 hours of battery life on my phone.  Don’t really see a problem here.  It only does good things for my phone.

  • http://twitter.com/teleknEsis Kyle Miller

    Was it FroYo (2.2) that added the ability to kill processes natively? So really, your 1 “acceptable” use case is actually unacceptable IMO. Settings -> Applications -> Running Services -> Choose App -> Force Stop. BAM!

    Now Chris, go uninstall that Task Manager ;)

  • http://AfterCredits.com Chris R.

    First, no, I do not use a task killer and never will.

    Second, now it’s time for me to play dumb and recount a recent Verizon experience:

    What?  No, I NEED a task killer.  Android is designed to need a task killer.  The Verizon guy told me so.  My Inc. kept rebooting and stuff and he said that it was because I didn’t have one installed.  So he was kind enough to install one and send me on my way.  Done and done!  Why wouldn’t I trust him?  I mean he works for Verizon.  They wouldn’t lie to me or steer me wrong.  Besides, he said that he’s actually working with Google on some Android apps!  So he KNOWS what he’s talking about!

  • http://twitter.com/dmkraig Donald Michael Kraig

    So let me get this straight. You say Android runs apps in the background, but that it really doesn’t run them? They’re “pause[d]… until you return to them. If you don’t come back to the app for awhile, Android will eventually close the app altogether.” So it doesn’t really run the apps, it just keeps them open. In fact, it’s not true multitasking, it’s “cooperative multitasking,” the same thing Mac OS 9 and earlier was doing over a decade ago and for which Apple was attacked because it wasn’t very good. And then, like Windows, people need to clear things up by rebooting their system. Could you explain how bad battery life, a technique used by Apple over a decade ago and roundly criticized, and a “fix” that has been an albatross around Microsoft’s neck since Windows 1.0 makes Android an “advanced” OS?

    • TalkingMoose

      The difference is that Android can run them in the background if that’s desired.  You often wouldn’t because of battery concerns, etc., but of it makes sense to do so, by all means developer it that way.  The other thing is that tasks are not limited to apps.  A lot of multitasking takes place under the hood.

      Nice try, though.

    • http://profiles.google.com/kmbear Kevin Bear

      What makes sense on a desktop computer, or even a laptop, doesn’t necessarily apply on a mobile device.  On a full PC, you usually want apps to be able to actual run and continue processing in the background.  On a mobile device, this would eat battery.  No way around it.  Instead, Android employs this pausing technique to conserve battery. To provide a multitasking experience for certain needs, small low-power services can run to wake up an app or notify the user when necessary.
      As far as occasionally needing to be rebooted, this is not exclusive to Android or Windows.  Every computer that has user installable application support can experience this.  It’s a casualty of that openness to apps.  It’s not the fault of the OS typically as much as a poorly written app causing an issue.

    • DroidDev

      Hey douche…..the person writing this article has no idea what they are talking about…..but does he come in your bedroom and tell you how to fuck your boyfriend?  No…he doesnt.  Why you ask?  After reading your post he realized it was Steve Jobs that you are blowing, and this is an Android forum, so fuck off #troll

  • Oscar

    For the root community, it’s a little easier. We have a free app called
    Autokiller which lets you make android more aggressive in reclaiming
    ram. It’s a fantastic tool for low memory devices, like the G1′s 192mb
    of RAM, but not really needed on any of the 512mb+ phones. Besides, in
    CM7 there is a built in option for killing the foreground app with a
    longpress of back, which works fantabulously.

  • Blueglacia

    I see both sides of the argument. But, I know clearly what I have experienced to be true: for older android phones with not enough memory and processing power, multitasking is more of a curse than blessing. When I try to get my Droid to respond to my action request, often it behaves like a personal assistant with an attitude and a chewing gum in her mouth: “Yeah, yeah.. what d’ya want? Can’t you see I am kinda busy right now? Why don’t you try me again when I am free?” On top of it, I have no way to tell it which app is more important to me. I hate it when it constantly kills off ADW launcher to run some other apps I rarely use. So, I run both a task killer and an autorun manager. Now I can tolerate Droid for a few more months.

    • Brandon Peters

      I have an HTC magic with 191 Mb of ram, and mine doesn’t behave like that, What are you running?

  • Greg Abbate

    Excellent PSA Chris. I will spread the word. 

    On a side note, I had to put my head down and listen to the video. Watching it with all the jump cuts was causing a seizure

  • droiddevelop

    Poorly written apps can continue to run in the background.  No notification in the bar is required, it doesn’t have to be a service.  If an activity starts a thread and that application is the pushed to the background, the activities ui thread is paused, however any threads it spawned may continue to run.  These may or may not be killed if android needs the RAM they are consuming, but if they use little ram but a lot of CPU, they can continue to run, impact battery life and performance.  As a developer i could whip up an app that will prevent your phone from sleeping, kill your battery, and not use much ram all with out it being the foreground application. 

    Personally I don’t use a task killer, i just uninstall crappy apps, however there are plenty of people that may want to keep these apps, and for them a task killer could be helpful.

    is a task killer necessary? not at all.  can it do more harm than good? absolutely.  but to say it is universally bad and has no place in Android is just uniformed.

  • http://plus.psylink.net Psylink

    task killer users who are adamant on having them and refuse to see the response from numerous devs (google included) are just like discussing android vs iphone, you can not get through to them even with fact.  i’m curious how many of those hardcore task killer users are iphone converts.

    i know there are a lot of feature>smartphone customers, “some guy at x store installed it and said i had to have it or my phone would explode and i would be called a terrorist so i thought i was only a true american if i used one”. Most cases educating and showing the ones running a task killer that android has its own built in and the pros/cons they quickly ask me to uninstall it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.darst John Darst

    Big error here… ATK’s (auto task killers) are not needed and harm battery life.
    Task-killers, on the other hand, are convenient alternatives to rebooting your phone when you have an errant process.   I know this is built into android but task killers provide a more convenient method with shortcuts and such.  I too have had problems with phone getting too hot and zapping the battery.  Poor app design?  probably so, but a TK (not ATK) is an easy solution.
    And google maps is a big culprit for me too.

  • JMB98115

    I use a task-killer to stop the bloatware apps that T-Mobile junked up my G2 with (Quick Office, Photobucket, etc.).

  • dvdivx

    It’s amazing how much free memory must appear by magic when I kill off tasks I’m not using. Until apps actually quit when I want or in some case quit at all I’m going to keep using them. If this guy doesn’t like it then he can buy an iphone and enjoy the walled garden. It’s my phone. Simple as that.

    • Brandon Peters

      Free memory is wasted memory, and android actually uses more battery life trying to utilize all that free memory when you kill of tasks

  • systemsguy22

    I have the task killer app and my phone is fine, I love it.  I like it because I am ensure an app is actually no longer running.  To each his own.

  • Carmen Diva

    I am sorry. Chris I love your articles/reviews but i disagree.
    I will always use Task killers because I do not have the patience
    to wait for Android to realize it no longer needs a particular App to
    run and close it out.

    When i am done with it, I automatically go to my task killer and kill it.
    I think the use of task killers are highly subjective

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      NoooOOOooo! Not you, Carmen! Lol 
      Why are you closing apps right after you’re done with them? Its just like having an iPhone. 
      Is it cuz of battery life? Make your phone faster? I dare you to NOT use a task killer for a week and see what happens =)

  • Brandon

    Can’t you force close an app from the settings menu?  The few times when I have had to shut down a problematic App that wouldn’t close any other way (looking at you skype) I just force closed it from my phones settings.  Does the job without having that dodgy task killer.

  • dhlee

    how about we do whatever the fuck we want with a task killer and you leave us alone

    • Brandon Peters

      AS long as you don’t complain when your phone fuggs up, that’s one of the reason I like Cyanogen, He won’t even accept a bug report if you have any type of task killer installed….

  • SharkChaos

    Any CSer can point out at least a couple of false facts in this post.

  • Ravlen

    You know, we wouldn’t need task killers (including force closing from app management), if app coders made it so their app can be properly exited from…

    Need an example? How about PHANDROID’S OWN APP? Make it so we can shutdown the damn thing when we are done reading news! This app is the most common source of slowdowns on my phone and the most common reason I find myself in app management force closing something. If it had a shutdown option, I wouldn’t need to kill it regularly.

  • asqwerth

    I used task killers when I had my Hero (ie, OS 2.1). Once I got my N1,  I thought I would try using my new phone for a while without the TK to see how that worked out, and found that I had no problems and really didn’t need it. I never bothered to reinstall the TK app.

    If – very rarely – something does go wrong with an app and I have to force close it, I just go to “Applications” in Settings and force close the app in question.

    Unless you’re installing and uninstalling new apps all the time, you will get familiar with the performance of the apps on your phone and will know which app is misbehaving, esp if your phone has been doing well all this while until you recently installed a new app.

  • Howard C. Shaw III

    I’ve read the google docs. I am an android developer (as well as .net win mobile, and before that, Palm OS)… and I use ATK… and I ignore people who whine about it. Why?

    My boss has an HTC Thunderbolt – she got about two hours of battery life when NOT USING the phone. She expects it to be less when using it, or calling, etc. But simply between the time she unplugged the phone (at 100%), got in the car, drove five minutes to the office, another five minutes to get her laptop set up, her phone would have noticeablly dropped (down to 80% one time).

    I installed ATK, set it up to auto-kill… hmm… now her phone lasts the day without complaint. 

    This is just one example; but I’ve had similar experiences with a Droid, Epic, Epic 4G (Galaxy S), and a Galaxy Tab.

    As a programmer who has to support his own code, I am well aware that my logical certainty that a particular problem CANNOT occur due to the way the code is written . . . does not mean that that problem has not actually occurred. Put simply, however certain the author of a bit of code is about the way it works, he can still be mistaken. And when I see a phone go from two hours of life to two days (when not being actively used), I am inclined to take any claims about task killer’s irrelevance to the Android platform with a hefty grain of salt.

    ATK (which I have no connection to, it was simply the first one I tried, and I’ve had no reason to try any others) has an ignore list, you can set it to ignore certain apps (and it can build that list automatically), and it’s auto-kill does NOT kill everything, and does not kill services. Yet the little that it does (I have it set to the safest level of auto-kill, i.e. the fewest items) has made a substantial difference to the battery life of every hh I’ve encountered so far, though again, some phones are far worse off without it than others. My Droid X, for example, does not care too much either way, and I mainly keep it around on mine for killing my in-development apps when they get feisty. On other phones it well more than doubled the battery life.

    • blaque_prince

      I’m also a developer and I question why you accept something in the software world without understanding why. Thats just not becoming of a dev. What exactly is being killed? Whats showing up in the battery usage statistics when the task killer is not being used? Does she have some bad app that needs to be uninstalled? Or is it that she has some app thats actually supposed to keep doing things in the background thats now being killed over and over by the task killer? Maybe she downloaded some whether app thats grabbing the weather every minute. Maybe its some service Verizon or HTC has in place dealing with 4G that shouldn’t be killed. It could be degrading her 4G performance for all you know.

      Just saying it works without knowing the affects its having on the phone besides the battery life is longer doesn’t make sense. You could literally being going a roundabout way to simply cut off a radio or two. Again who knows.

      • Howard C. Shaw III

        If the battery app reported accurate data, perhaps I would not have needed to use ATK. However, in one test I did, after having her device plugged in and charged up to 100%, it was unplugged and left off for one hour. When turned on, the battery was down to 92%, and the largest component in the battery usage was the display… which had been deliberately turned OFF. so unless somehow the entire 8% was used in the brief time it took to turn the device on and go to the Battery settings pane, then the reporting on this phone is simply inaccurate. Something is being reported as display which is simply untrue… since obviously, the display is still being used to exactly the same degree when off, and now the battery lasts, and the usage report is much more even.

        Now, you may have the time to spend willy nilly researching ways to get finer details, but I do not. When the Battery app does not report a culprit, and ATK resolved the problem, I no longer had any reason to keep going in there and demanding her phone for ‘another test’.

        No matter how nice it might be to know what the underlying cause is, as a *professional* developer, I need to allocate my time more efficiently than that. When coding at home on personal projects, I can follow whatever wandering path takes my fancy. When coding for my job, I have to strike a balance between research time, debugging, new development, and support, and I cannot waste time hunting down every tiny cause, especially when it is not in my code, where I am responsible for it.

        And when in subsequent situations, faced with unexpectedly low battery life, and no obvious culprits showing up in the battery pane, installing ATK and configuring it resolved the problem, I added that to my toolkit of solutions and moved on. I do check the Battery pane when I encounter a hh with unusual battery patterns, but so far, I have not found any ill-behaving applications amongst the hhs I have had to support (probably largely because these are people simply *using* their phones, not hunting for the newest cool app or neatest toy… I’m the one that does that.)

        • blaque_prince

          I can’t find the article at the moment but your battery will always show a quick drain right after being unplugged. It has to do with the way the batteries are charged. The battery is never actually at 100% but most battery indicators are programmed to tell you that it is to make things simpler as I remember it. Thats where your drain came from. When you booted the phone it kept the screen on the entire time and when you went to look at the battery stats the screen is still on. If nothing else is running then yes 92% of whatever drain you’ve encountered has been from the screen even if that drain was .000001% of the battery capacity. Its relative to everything else that drains the battery. Whether its lazy and counts the phantom drain or whether it started counting from the real peak its still going to be a high percentage of the battery drain since nothing else has used any battery. Again….a little understanding of both how the batteries work and what the usage percentage means goes a long way.

          I certainly hope you don’t develop “professionally” using these cargo cult methods. This is the equivalent of saying I cut and pasted code snippet C into the project because it works on project A without understanding what it does or how it will affect project B. You could have just cut and pasted a piece of business logic not meant to be access by some group of users that now have access. While your approach may be common for someone non-technical its ridiculous for a developer. Its flat out voodoo. If you’re not going to find out which process thats being killed is using up the CPU then you could be doing more harm than good. Suppose she had some sort of alert app on her phone monitoring her kids or something. You could be autokilling something that may cause her not to be notified immediately. All because you can’t be bothered to actually understand why it works.

          I seriously hope you aren’t using your real name on this thing and showing employers that you can’t be bothered to understand why something works when its not through some documented API.

  • jim

    All this discussion is interesting but I think it misses the point.  A phone should protect the user from crazy stuff without requiring the user to know how to debug the phone, apps, crappy apps, etc.

    When you talk about this problem, just look at the dissension among HARDCORE android users such as yourselves.  Now try thinking of all the people you’d love to enjoy the awesomeness of android but fear things like this.

    The bottom line is this IS an issue that needs to be addressed.  The use of task killers is a red herring … the fact that you even HAVE to think about whether this is ‘right or wrong’ is a symptom of the fact google needs to address this at the OS level because it leads to inconsistent user experience and requiring the user to ‘debug’ their phone when really a user should have to do nothing more than enjoy the phone and apps on it.

    • blaque_prince

      I think the point he’s trying to make is that 95% of the time you don’t HAVE to think about this at all. People just close stuff because they THINK they are accomplishing something. Most of the time they don’t have the battery stats to back any of this up. Its just a ghost left over from the G1 where you actually did have to help Android with the memory management to keep the phone running well. 

      The other 5% of the time is hard to deal with. How is the system going to know if an app is rogue or its a legitimate long running process? If you limit that ability then it could be said that you’re not allowing real multitasking. I believe Android does limit the juice an app can suck in the background but its not going to stop it. So what do you do? I know I found one of these apps that killed my phone based on battery stats and I uninstalled it. Should there be a way to alert the user at least once that “hey…this app is killing your battery pretty fast….is that ok with you?”

      • jim

        That 5% is the difference between an AWESOME phone that is making sure all cases are covered, and a phone that will frustrate the piss out of people over their 2 yr contract and make them not want to come back.

        I agree it’s not the OS’s “fault” that bad apps exist … but apps are what a phone runs and the OS needs to deal with this and be designed to be as bulletproof as reasonable against it for the sake of the user.

        So I’ll go back to what I said and use your numbers .. google needs to design this into their OS for the last 5%.  I think a prompt that says “X app took all of your battery last time” or SOMETHING is better than making the user dig for battery stats – which is not a simple thing to a nontechnical user.

      • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

        Nailed it. =)

  • Rui

    I’m an Android developer, and I know how easy a developer can mess up an app with it’s best intentions. There are just to many examples to throw at this. One very common is the initialization/termination of a system manager, like a location or sensor manager. Usually, we register and unregister listeners in the manager in the onResume/onPause of the Activity to prevent it from running when the Activity is no longer visible (or running). But, there is absolutely nothing that forces someone to unregister them in the onPause. A bad developer may even unregister them in the onDestroy. Or simply do nothing at all. Like this, there are many things that will stay running when the Activity is paused.

  • killerbee3

    Wow, this video should have come out months ago.

    Chavez, cut your hair!  And I bet most of that was nasty hair gel oozing from that abomination sitting atop your head.

    Phandroid may have never been my ‘go to’ Android site, but it is fast becoming my ‘click it because I have 20 minutes to kill and I’ve already read everything else today’ site.

    Chavez.  Amazing.  

    lol?

    • http://twitter.com/gamercore Chris Chavez

      I have no clue what your’e talking about. And I will never cut my hair. Ever. o_o

  • killerbee3

    And I’m taking bets on that pause before ‘malarkey’ was probably him sitting there going ‘uhmmm what’s that word – uhhmmmm, uhhhmmm’  *looks up online* ‘malarkey’ *video edit*

     Honestly, these sloppy video edits are as bad as that hideous looking ‘thing’ sitting on your head.  

  • jawman

    Even if you do need to kill an unresponsive app, there’s still no need for a task killer. Android will usually let you know that an app has become unresponsive and will give you the option to wait for it or to force close it. Or, if you do not want to wait for that popup, just go to menu > settings > applications > manage applications, let it load the list of apps, find the app you want to close, tap it to open its information, and select force stop. Problem solved. You can also add a shortcut to manage applications on your homescreen if you’d like as well. From my EVO, I did menu > add to home > shortcut > settings > manage applications.

    • DroidDev

      Wow…awesome…..providing you know exactly which app is the one causing the issue. Sounds like someone doesn’t do a whole lotta multi-tasking on their phone. What happens when you dont know which app is causing the issue?  Use your shortcut and spend 5 minutes killing each app individually? If nothing else…..at least you thought it out.

      • jawman

        I said if an app is unresponsive… It’s pretty easy to tell if an app
        is unresponsive or not: if it works, it’s okay. If it’s not responding,
        well there you go. I never said anything about being able to find out which app may be causing a specific issue, but thanks for putting words into my mouth. “Sounds like someone doesn’t do a whole lotta multi-tasking on their phone” Oooo, you’re quite the internet tough guy…is that supposed to be an insult? Assuming over the internet that someone doesn’t do lots of multitasking? Wow you got me good….

        Sounds like someone should think before they speak. Congratulations, you’re a fuckin’ idiot.

  • ShawnPete

    I use task managers.  There are times when my phone (Samsung Moment) slows to a crawl.  After killing the running tasks, I find that my phone begins to react faster again.  I thought Froyo would take care of this, but apparently the maker of the custom rom forgot that part of android.

  • DroidDev

    Lets take a more objective look at this.  The person who wrote this article is a clown……a troll at best. You guys are wasting your time debating some non-objective bullshit posted by someone who got all his information from Twitter and forums.  Simple fact of the matter is, using a Task Manager when you have a hung task is fine. Having a “kill all” widget on your main screen that you press ever time you wake your screen or before you sleep your screen is completely idiotic.  If I really need to say more, I wont, cause you are an idiot and I dont waste my time. Now go ahead and delete me…….skid

  • None

    “…or…or…or…or…It’s only in these occasions that using a task manager is acceptable.”

    So, it is never okay to use a task killer app, unless you feel it is okay to use a task killer app. Then you can use a task killer app.

    /facepalm

  • Phil

    Why do you show your face that often ? Are you trying and get famous ? ^^
    Anyway, nice hand puppets performance.  :P

  • Stephen Parker

    Haha. Great info man, thanks for the insight! 

  • KenanSadhu

    Can’t uninstall task killer, my mom is using an iphone =D

  • Reggjoo

    I use golauncher, and it has a task killer in the running apps section. I selectively turn off apps that will not start again. The apps that tend to restart, I leave running, every once in a while,(maybe twice a day), I kill all. It all depends on how you use it.

  • Cpk8402

    Running to the iPhone? The phone they should get to begin with because it actually works?

  • MarcusTullius

    I lolled. Task killers aren’t inherently evil, but it’s not something one needs very often. Although I’d rather see people spamming their task managers then buying crap like angry bird on the market and then sit there playing their games whenever there’s an awkward conversion, difficult problem, or tasks to be done…. I’m not saying angry birds is evil, it’s just that your android phone doesn’t need it and people use it at the wrong times, constantly. 

  • Marc

    Forget it.

    Are you telling me that when (insert random developer here) app crashes and my device is making an awful screeching noise because it crashed while playing a sound that I should reboot my phone or try to ignore the awful noise?

    no way, ctrl+alt+del ftw

  • http://twitter.com/cawlfield Bob

    cumbya my friend