Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 29th Apr 2013 21:06 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless Oh multitasking. That staple of computing that got thrown out the window with many modern smartphones. We got some rudimentary thing in its place - but even as multitasking on phone and tablets improves, its user-visible side remains cumbersome. Windows 8 has a neat implementation, and now it's time Android follows in it footsteps.
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BB10 is perfect
by earksiinni on Mon 29th Apr 2013 23:09 UTC
earksiinni
Member since:
2009-03-27

I dunno about the technical guts of how BB10 does it, but it works great for me. Swipe up from the bottom of any application anywhere during any state and it brings you to your multitasking screen with all your currently open apps. Couldn't be simpler.

Reply Score: 3

Dear god no
by thesunnyk on Tue 30th Apr 2013 02:31 UTC
thesunnyk
Member since:
2010-05-21

Multi tasking looks horrible no matter the implementation. The OS should be a multi-process, multi tasking system, with services and processes running concurrently, but a user only does one thing at one time. With Android (and iOS too, for that matter), we have a system where the running state of an app simply doesn't matter.

Couple that with Android's way of sharing data between applications, and the pagey-nature of apps, and the application stack, and "multi-tasking", which is really code for "multiple windows on the screen at the same time", really doesn't matter. I think people are trying to replicate inefficient work practices on PCs with Android, especially since Android already has the tools to go between apps.

I want Android to get a "get data from" link between apps, and a "paste share" option. I'd also like several application stacks, and for them to be treated like stacks, with decent back button behaviour. That's powerful multitasking.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Dear god no
by kragil on Tue 30th Apr 2013 12:45 UTC in reply to "Dear god no"
kragil Member since:
2006-01-04

Sorry, but I can do more than one thing at a time. So all you wrote is wrong.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Dear god no
by ninja_in_pajamas on Fri 3rd May 2013 14:04 UTC in reply to "RE: Dear god no"
ninja_in_pajamas Member since:
2007-07-26

Well... that's a blunt way to put it. So here's the nice version.

The Beanz ROM on the Galaxy Note 2 has been doing this with nearly every app, pretty much since its inception. Unless Paranoid has some fancy schmancy way of implementing it, then it's not really all that new.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Dear god no
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 30th Apr 2013 20:29 UTC in reply to "Dear god no"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

My real use case is thus:

App A has content that I want to compare to other content in App B. The best way to do that is to have them both visible at the same time. Anything else, wouldn't be as efficient (switching between them, transferring content between apps,etc).

Reply Score: 2

RE: Dear god no
by Luminair on Wed 1st May 2013 15:10 UTC in reply to "Dear god no"
Luminair Member since:
2007-03-30

well that's just crazy. you've never had two pieces of paper side by side?

a calculator and a piece of paper? a book and a computer? multitasking is a feature that makes computers more useful.

Reply Score: 4

Umm, Windows 8?
by matthew-sheffield on Tue 30th Apr 2013 03:31 UTC
matthew-sheffield
Member since:
2013-04-30

On the tablet, Windows 8 Metro is the most powerful tablet interface imo.

And with 8.1, it will have the ability to provide 50/50 split for true productivity.

Reply Score: 7

RE: Umm, Windows 8?
by galvanash on Tue 30th Apr 2013 06:18 UTC in reply to "Umm, Windows 8?"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

I modded you back up because although I actually don't agree with you at all, modding down a polite opinion post without even bothering to reply is just rude...

Reply Score: 5

comment
by pandronic on Tue 30th Apr 2013 05:31 UTC
pandronic
Member since:
2006-05-18

I don't think the windows paradigm is suited for touch devices, I'd rather see a tiling UI for the tablets. Phones have screens too small for even that to work.

On the other hand, what is really needed is something we had in Windows 3.1 - applications that work in the background - no more resume crap, just start the app, let it do its thing, summon the launcher, open another app, do another thing and then go back to the first app to find your task finished. That is multitasking.

Reply Score: 3

RE: comment
by Morgan on Tue 30th Apr 2013 06:05 UTC in reply to "comment"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

The problem with that is battery life. Windows 3.1 laptops didn't have to worry as much about battery life because half the weight of the 7 pound device was the battery. I know, because my first x86 computer was an i486 based laptop with WfW 3.11.

On a phone, the battery is almost always a single cell, and every process running on the device is another few minutes of life leaked away. Every Android phone I've owned has suffered severe battery life issues after it's been in use for a few weeks, to the point that it would last no more than four to six hours on a charge. Even with a reflash and only default apps installed, the time between charges would get steadily shorter every day.

In contrast, the iPhone 4S I'm using right now will sometimes last me two full days between charges. Having also had my wife's iPad in the house since we got married last month, I can only conclude that iOS's method of pausing most backgrounded apps is the reason. I say this because, if she is playing a game or using an app on her iPad that continues to run in the background (there are a few it seems), her battery life suffers similar to that of a typical Android tablet. Just browsing the web, or Pinterest, or Facebook barely touches the battery. On my iPhone, streaming audio over WiFi or playing certain games will have a bigger impact, but using more static apps and browsing the web just sips power marginally. On the Android (Samsung Nexus S with a new battery) I could take it off the charger, never take it out of my pocket, and four hours later I'm at 30% battery.

My usage patterns haven't changed; I use the same apps I used on my Android phone and I actually use this phone more than the other, possibly because I've discovered it will last much longer. Yet I get significantly better battery life.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: comment
by pandronic on Tue 30th Apr 2013 06:33 UTC in reply to "RE: comment"
pandronic Member since:
2006-05-18

Well, I understand the battery issue as I've had an SGS for the past 2 years. It wasn't that bad as you described your experience - I usually got about 1-2 days of use out of my phone, but I was very careful about the way I used it (I always force closed apps and services I didn't use at the time + no data and GPS unless I really needed them). On the other hand on my new WP8 device I get about the same battery life with data and GPS always on, which is amazing. Still I can't shake the feeling that while the Android device was almost a real computer, WP8 and iOS devices are glorified feature phones.

I don't mind doing the battery management myself, always keeping track of my opened applications and closing them as needed. I also doubt that the average user would know or have the interest to do that, so I say - make true multitasking an advanced option for the power user.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: comment
by No it isnt on Tue 30th Apr 2013 23:00 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: comment"
No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

Force closing applications won't save your battery under Android. They'll just restart whenever they feel like it anyway. Turning off the radios will help a lot, but naturally, the GPS isn't normally used when it isn't used. So you don't really save anything from turning it off. Data, on the other hand, will drain a lot. Then again, if you don't want data, you don't want a smartphone.

tl;dr: you're doing it wrong.

I get at least two days out of my Nexus 4, and that's with Google Now tracking my movement.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: comment
by hollovoid on Tue 30th Apr 2013 10:42 UTC in reply to "RE: comment"
hollovoid Member since:
2005-09-21

Not sure what phone you had but my droid X got a day easy, and my Razr Maxx HD has pushed 3. This is with a good amount of usage, on LTE, and no babysitting background tasks. But not all phones are created equal, I read reviews and study up on my potential purchases, to see if it is going to do what I want it to do. If it has horrible batt life, just dont buy it!

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: comment
by Morgan on Wed 1st May 2013 05:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: comment"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

The Razr Maxx has one defining killer feature: Battery life. That is the single most important design decision for that phone, and it's top-notch in that area. I also have friends with that model and they love the fact that they don't have to carry around a charger all the time.

However, that phone wasn't on the table for me, for two reasons. The most important one is that I'm on Sprint and I would go without a phone before I'd choose Verizon as a carrier. They are simply terrible in my area. The other reason is that I wanted a "pure Google" phone if I was going to go back to Android, so I chose the Nexus S above other, better phones.

Now that I've seen how well the iPhone fits my current need for a reliable, solid mobile device, I think I'm done with Android for the foreseeable future. I'm getting to a point where the hobby of tinkering with my phone's OS has to take a back seat to having a device I can count on. I honestly think that even if I had ended up with an HTC One or Note 2 I would have ultimately been frustrated and let down.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: comment
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 30th Apr 2013 20:34 UTC in reply to "RE: comment"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I have the opposite experience. The 4s I have access to lasts barely 1 day. The SGS III lasts maybe a few hours more. I think it wildly varies on Android phones, because the hardware is so different. You'd need a device that was supported by both OS' in order to do a fair test. With out that, I'd guess the IOS method was better, but can't say that definitively.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: comment
by Morgan on Wed 1st May 2013 05:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: comment"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

All I know is, I could reflash the Nexus S to a stock image, lock the bootloader and log into Google services, charge it fully with a battery that was just a few weeks old, set it down on my desk, and come back a few hours later to around 50% battery at best. That's with zero third party apps installed on a "pure Google" OS.

With my iPhone, I can charge it fully, set it on my desk and come back a few hours later to ~95% charge remaining. And that's logged into Google+ and Voice, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and all of Apple's services including iTunes and iCloud.

The only way I can make the iPhone drain like an Android device is by streaming audio or video over Sprint's horribly inefficient 3G, or running certain graphics-heavy games for hours on end. Since I don't actually do those things much at all, I get the best smartphone battery life I've had apart from my HTC Arrive WP7 phone. I'd say the iPhone is on par or slightly better than that phone on battery life.

I didn't even intend to get an iPhone though; I was due for an upgrade and I couldn't afford the Note 2 I really wanted. I was going to go with the HTC One but they were still on pre-order status. I needed a working phone and the iPhone was affordable, so I figured I'd try it. The last time I owned one it was a first generation model on AT&T back in 2008. It's definitely come a long way and I'm actually enjoying it so far.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: comment
by Luminair on Wed 1st May 2013 15:13 UTC in reply to "RE: comment"
Luminair Member since:
2007-03-30

have you seen how thin modern phones are? batteries can get bigger if necessary to support multitasking. not that I believe this is the case -- most of the battery is there for the screen...

Reply Score: 3

RE: comment
by phoenix on Tue 30th Apr 2013 21:26 UTC in reply to "comment"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Android already does that. Been doing that for over a year with Android 4.x. Did most of the following on Android 2.x as well, but it wasn't nearly as smooth as on 4.x (especially 4.2).

Start browser, start download, open mail, read mail, get notification download completed, open file browser, do stuff, go back to mail, read new mail, start podcast player, stream podcast, switch to game, keep listening to podcast, etc.

And it's pre-emptive multitasking at that, something Windows 3.1 never had. ;)

Edited 2013-04-30 21:27 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Webos? Seriously?
by bob_bipbip on Tue 30th Apr 2013 06:29 UTC
bob_bipbip
Member since:
2009-04-28

I have to disagree.
The n900 WAS the best indeed, and then after the n9. WebOs only comes in third place.
I cannot speak about bb10, because on the contrary about the three first devices mentioned above, I do not have one. BUT I do have a PlayBook, and I have to say that it is slightly better than WebOs.

Seeing android, iphoneOS and windows phone do worst than windows mobile and symbian makes me sad....

Reply Score: 2

RE: Webos? Seriously?
by drcouzelis on Tue 30th Apr 2013 15:35 UTC in reply to "Webos? Seriously? "
drcouzelis Member since:
2010-01-11

The comment about WebOS stood out to me too. My Nokia N900 is the only smart phone I've ever used, so I have nothing to compare it with, but it can't get much simpler: it's Linux, I start applications, and they run until I close them.

As for the user interface, I can imagine times when it would be nice to look at two windows side by side. Sometimes, when I'm writing / programming in Vim (on my phone), I'll use tmux to split the window in half. Being able to look at two things at once on my phone makes me feel like a REBEL. ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE: Webos? Seriously?
by Moochman on Tue 30th Apr 2013 18:57 UTC in reply to "Webos? Seriously? "
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

How is the N9 better than webOS? N9 was maybe more stable/capable of running more apps at once, but how is aiming your finger at a tiny "X" button in the corner of an app tile better than simply flicking a card off the screen???

As for the PlayBook, everyone knows it's a webOS ripoff. It might be slightly improved somehow (maybe you could elaborate?), but it is essentially the exact same thing as webOS. Which is great.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Webos? Seriously?
by No it isnt on Tue 30th Apr 2013 23:05 UTC in reply to "RE: Webos? Seriously? "
No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

Flicking the apps off the screen (top to bottom) is the normal way to close them on the N9.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Webos? Seriously?
by Moochman on Wed 1st May 2013 00:35 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Webos? Seriously? "
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

OK. To me, swiping down from the top edge still seems less satisfying that flicking cards off the top edge of the screen. But everyone is entitled to their preferences. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Webos? Seriously?
by bob_bipbip on Wed 1st May 2013 16:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Webos? Seriously? "
bob_bipbip Member since:
2009-04-28

taskmanager!=how the "os" (or apps) handle the different task

yeah, the webos taskmanager is pretty cute, and some can prefer it to the n9 one, but has someone already said, you also can close with a swipe "a la" web os.

you should really test these 4 devices to understand the true power, and lack thereof, of multitasking.
the n900 do not freeze (webos) or slow down (n9) app AT ALL. so you really have to care about closing every app, or you will drain your battery.

but they are all great after all ;)

about the playbook, it's better simply because the browser doesn't freeze at all in background. webos (and n9) always freeze their browser in background.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Webos? Seriously?
by zima on Mon 6th May 2013 23:16 UTC in reply to "RE: Webos? Seriously? "
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

N9 could hardly be described as stable, especially WRT many apps at once... (check out at least the conclusion)
http://www.mobile-review.com/review/nokia-n9-2-en.shtml

Reply Score: 2

Ubuntu Phone
by Savior on Tue 30th Apr 2013 07:37 UTC
Savior
Member since:
2006-09-02

Many applications have both a phone and a tablet user interface, and you could easily show two phone applications side-by-side on a tablet.


Isn't this exactly what Ubuntu wants to do on the tablet -- split the screen among a tablet and a phone application? I don't know if it is already working, though.

Reply Score: 3

My Change
by fretinator on Tue 30th Apr 2013 17:56 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

I would actually like to see less apps running in the background. Half of the apps I use have to have a service running around in the background. They use a lot of memory and battery. Most of these apps are just sitting around waiting for updates. I would like Android to switch to having a common update service that applications can subscribe to. When an update happens (e.g., new messages have arrived, player has made moves, etc), the service could receive it, wake up the app and put the update in its queue. Apps would have a common means of receiving informations (e.g., provide wsdl, or XSD with URL, etc), and all those little services can go night, night. When you close the main screen, the service saves state and exits.

Reply Score: 5

Comment by Soulbender
by Soulbender on Wed 1st May 2013 06:55 UTC
Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

actual application switching is still cumbersome and restrictive.


Really? Hold down home button for 2 seconds then pick the task. Wow, that's really cumbersome.

I really want proper multitasking with multi-window on Android.


On a tablet? I guess. On a phone? It's worthless, no matter the implementation.

Edited 2013-05-01 06:56 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Soulbender
by drcouzelis on Wed 1st May 2013 13:34 UTC in reply to "Comment by Soulbender"
drcouzelis Member since:
2010-01-11

Hold down home button for 2 seconds then pick the task. Wow, that's really cumbersome.

Wait... I've never really used an iPhone before. The iPhone makes you wait two seconds to switch tasks? That sounds disgusting. :O

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by Soulbender
by Soulbender on Thu 2nd May 2013 05:11 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Soulbender"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

No I was talking about Android and I was also wrong, you hold it down for ~1 second.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by Soulbender
by _txf_ on Thu 2nd May 2013 10:15 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Soulbender"
_txf_ Member since:
2008-03-17

And if you use a recent phone or a nexus, the task switcher is even faster than that. Also no need to hold buttons, just tap...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Soulbender
by lucas_maximus on Wed 1st May 2013 15:36 UTC in reply to "Comment by Soulbender"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

On a tablet? I guess. On a phone? It's worthless, no matter the implementation.


Pretty much this.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by Soulbender
by phoenix on Wed 1st May 2013 22:57 UTC in reply to "Comment by Soulbender"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Small apps (Sony), QSlide apps (LG), whatever Samsung calls it, and similar setups where you can access another app without closing the first one and still seeing the first one, is handy. Especially when it comes to using the calculator.

It's amazing how often I use the calculator on my phone, especially when web surfing or while talking on the phone. Being able to pull down the notification bar, accessing the calculator, and having it take up less than half of the screen while still running the original app behind it, is very handy.

Doing the same with e-mail/browser, browser/chat, and video/anything is also handy.

And this is on a 4.3" 720x1290 screen.

On a 7-10" tablet screen, it would be even more useful.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Luminair
by Luminair on Wed 1st May 2013 15:49 UTC
Luminair
Member since:
2007-03-30

In my opinion, application management is an issue of user freedom. And I have a belief that more freedom is better.

I want to manage what runs when and where.

I want to choose when and what to minimize to the big tray or the little tray. I want to choose how many tabs are in a window and when to break them into a new window. I want to choose how many windows are displayed on a screen and where they go on that screen. And most importantly for this mobile topic: if not all applications are allowed to run all the time, I want to choose which applications run all the time, and which get frozen. I have priorities and I want the system to support me and mine.

Supporting application management is important and valuable to me.

Reply Score: 2

Yay!
by helf on Wed 1st May 2013 17:54 UTC
helf
Member since:
2005-07-06

Anything to further real multi-app multitasking on mobiles is a plus, imo. I use the CRAP out of multiwindow mode on my Galaxy Note II and it works wonderfully for all but a handful of programs. I have edited my rom so it allows any app to be used and very few ever break. Mostly games and a few poorly designed programs with set resolution limits that refuse to scale.

I REALLY wish Apple would add it for iOS. The iPads, with their ridiculously high resolution screens, would handle 2-4 apps perfectly well.

Reply Score: 2

What seems to be the problem?
by Osowiecki on Sat 4th May 2013 09:21 UTC
Osowiecki
Member since:
2013-05-04

I use TaskXP on my Nook Simple Touch (Android 2.1) to switch between running applications and it works fine.
I takes 2 taps to change apk. Just saying.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.loong.taskxp&hl=en

Reply Score: 1

webOS & battery usage
by StephenBeDoper on Sat 4th May 2013 18:41 UTC
StephenBeDoper
Member since:
2005-07-06

Having owned a Pre2 since 2011 (and a Pre3 for a bit over a month), I think that the effects of multi-tasking on battery life are a bit overstated. I think that reputation is due more to the small size of the pre-Pre3 (if you'll excuse the pun) phones, and the constraints that put on the battery size/capacity. I don't know the specs offhand, but I'd wager that the iPhone & typical Android phones had significantly higher-capacity batteries.

Going from the Pre2 to the Pre3 (which is rough the same size as iPhones pre-iPhone5), the improvement in battery life has been dramatic. On standby, I'm getting close to 3 days of battery life with the 3, with regular use I get at least a day and half. Granted, my normal use is probably light by the standard of many smartphone users, I don't use any social media services, etc (already get enough spam through EMail, not desire to have Facebook or LinkedIn spam added to the pile).

Even then, I typically got at least a day out of the Pre2's battery. And one the nice things about the "openness" of webOS was that it was trivially simple to install a replacement kernel with better power management support, along with an app called "Govnah" which allows things like automatically scaling back the CPU frequency when the remaining battery life hits a certain point.

Reply Score: 2

StephenBeDoper
Member since:
2005-07-06

Personally, my ideal for multi-tasking on mobile devices (or any power/resource-constrained devices) would be a mix of the best ideas from Android, webOS, with a dash of BeOS/Haiku.

To give a practical example of the problems with the way existing mobile OSes handle multasking, the company I work for/run uses a web-based application called AjaxChat for basic group communication and so far, I haven't been able to use to with any "modern" mobile OS I've tried. Oh, I can login and send messages, etc - but as soon as I switch to another application, browser tab, or so much as turn off the screen, I'll timeout because the browser session/JS doesn't keep running in the background (even on webOS, sadly).

IMO, this seriously limits the usefulness of web-based applications on those platforms

I'd love to have a way to selectively set applications/instance of applications as either "active" or "managed". In active mode, the application stays running in the background no matter what, just as if it were running in the foreground. In managed mode, it would work like Android applications (closed when you switch to another app, but with the state saved/restored when you switch back). And ideally, some of that could be decided automatically/intelligently by programs based on context - E.g. start audio/video playback in a browser tab and switch to another tab/application, the OS should automatically make the original tab "active" (so playback doesn't just stop when you switch away).

And the BeOS/Haiku part? Require that every "app" be broken up into a client (the UI) and a server (that does the behind the scenes work). So the server daemon could run in the background, without having the GUI constantly loaded when it's not in the foreground. And I'd think that approach could be made even more efficient for mobile by not having the individual daemons running constantly, but able to register themselves with a central "director" daemon - which would periodically send "wake up & sync" commands to the individual daemons (as I understand it, some iOS and Android apps already work like that anyway).

To me that seems infinitely more sensible than the current approaches to multi-tasking on mobile devices, which essentially just throws the baby out with the bath water.

Reply Score: 2