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Does closing background apps actually save smartphone battery?

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Closing your smartphone’s background apps has become a habitual and cathartic exercise. For many of the smartphone user, closing apps becomes almost automatic. You hit the multitasking key on your Android, and you just closing all the apps you’ve been using. It might feels like a cleansing, a reset. YOU’RE out with friends, your smartphone battery is quickly diminishing and there isn’t a charger in sight. The solution is also closing all your apps to slow down the draining of your battery. Best of all, with no apps running, your battery’s in great shape! Right?

But is it actually effective? Does it really good for your smartphone battery?

Reality as per the experts, is actually different. No apps doesn’t mean no drain on your battery. And instead of giving your piddly power unit a new lease of life, force-quitting all open apps in one go can actually make things worse and cause your handset to lose battery juice even quicker. Both Apple and Google have confirmed that closing your apps does absolutely nothing to improve your battery life. In fact, says Hiroshi Lockheimer, the VP of Engineering for Android, it might make things worse.

There are five different states an app can be in at any given time. Not Running is obvious: You haven’t launched it, it’s not running. Active is up on the screen and doing stuff. Inactive is a transitional phase, where it’s on the screen but not doing anything as you switch to something else. Background is when the app isn’t in front of your face but is working, refreshing your emails or bringing in the latest fire tweets. Last, there’s Suspended, which is when an app is in the background and doing absolutely nothing. It just sits in memory like a bump on a log.

On both Android and iOS, algorithms run memory management. They’ll close apps that need to be closed, typically ones that have been dormant for a while or are using more power or memory than they should. And they’re very good at knowing when you’re going to need data, or want a refresh, or open an app again. Apps that are already in memory open quickly, rather than having to fully start again; it’s like waking your computer from sleep rather than rebooting it completely. You’re far, far better off letting the system work for you rather than forcing it to re-open and re-start everything every time. Battery questions aside, it makes your phone slower and less coherent.

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If you’re into saving battery, there are lots of things you can do. Turn down screen brightness. Turn off background refresh for apps. Turn off location sharing for apps that don’t need it (which is a good idea regardless) etc. But honestly, it’s quite a habit now to clear recents to save the battery. What’s your thought on this?

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