Thursday, May 17, 2012

HTC One X breaks Android multi-tasking

One of the key features of Android is multi-tasking. ICS has improved that by placing a dedicated multi-tasking button and improving on the multi-tasking interface.

Unfortunately, HTC seems to have broken Android multi-tasking with the One X. HTC has implemented very aggressive memory management that once you switch to a different application, the previous application you are using is deleted from memory. The only apps that remain active in the background are HTC built in apps.

This is similar to the approach Apple's iOS and Windows Phone 7 takes with multi-taking. Only a few apps are allowed to multi-task in the background. 

Android normally manages multi-tasking by allowing apps stay in memory. Apps idling in the background stored in the memory does not consume battery life. When there is too much running in the background, it flushest out the oldest apps from the memory leaving the more recent apps running. This allows the user to switch between previous launched applications without reloading them every time.

With the HTC One X is kills most apps when a new one is launched. This means when you go back to an old app, it has to launch it again. This process of killing apps and having to launch them from scratch consumes more battery life.

wrsdunkie posted two videos on YouTube which shows that HTC One X multi-tasking is pretty much non-existent.

As you can see in the video, previously loaded apps have to reload their data when the user goes back to them. I am a bit surprised this was not caught by the reviews.

HTC has responded that this is the way that multi-tasking is supposed to work on the HTC One X. So basically, it is not broken, it is a feature. I am wondering whether this is a HTC One X issue or a Sense issue, and if full Android multi-tasking is implemented on the HTC One S and the One V.

As a counterpoint, this may not be a bad thing. Once I left the Sentinel III game running in the background on my Android phone and only realized it when I was surprised to see the battery life meter on my phone drop drastically.

What it your take on this issue. Is limited multi-taking better than full multi-tasking? 


  1. I think apps should have a dedicated close or exit function. If I want to close an app, I simply select close or exit on the menu. If I want to leave the app running, then I press the home key. As we know, when we keep an app running in the background, it consumes processor cycles, battery, and data. I don't want HTC to handle the app management by closing my apps, nor I want all my apps to keep on running when I exit them.

    1. Apps that are not designed to run in the background have dedicated close or exit functions. Most mobile phone apps are designed to run in the background, since that it how they are designed to work. For example email apps and instant messengers. Others are designed to cache in the background so that they sit in an idle state in the memory. For example the web browser. It does not eat processor cycles, battery or data when left in the background. But when the browser is closed and re-opened it uses processor cycles and battery to close, and processor cycles, battery or data to start again.


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