The day Apple announced that they were bringing multitasking capabilities to the next iteration of iOS was the day I knew without a doubt that the days of snappy, fluid and instant feedback GUI response on my iPhone was over. Over time I have learned to love Apple’s implementation of allowing Apps to run certain processes in the background but it comes with a cost.

Before iOS4 when you would hit the home button to return to the home screen the application you were running terminates completely. With iOS4 the app is still running albeit in a standby state in the background. Double-clicking the home button allows you to see all the apps that are in that standby state.

Apple claims that there really is no need to force those applications to terminate (by holding and waiting for the icon to jiggle in the tray) since they terminate apps automatically based on last use and memory usage. In practice however I think this process needs to fine tuned.

Every few weeks I’ll notice that my phone has turned to mush… everything from typing to scrolling is slow as molasses. I used to power down the phone and power it back up to get it back to a usable state but I noticed that when I scroll through the apps that are in standby there are apps that I haven’t used in 4 to 5 months still occupying up precious memory. Force killing them immediately restored my phone back to it’s snappy state.

I hope Apple will fine tune their background processes and expiration time for stale apps in future iOS releases but for now you may have to do some house cleaning every few weeks.

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