Task Killer: Not Needed But Highly Useful

By Jack Holt

I remember when I got my first Android phone. Fairly new in the smartphone  market I was upgrading my Palm Pre to the Droid Eris. Little did I know my addiction for all things Android, but that is a story for another time. When I got my Eris the Verizon representative explained to me that the battery life sucked for most smart phones. He introduced me to a handy app called Advanced Task Killer (ATK). He explained to me that he used this app religiously and that his battery life lasted a day. He installed the app for me and showed me how to do use it. I used the app constantly.Almost compulsively, I hit the handy widget every other action on my phone. Checked an email, hit the widget. Sent a text message, hit the widget and so on. As I continued on in the Android family with the original Droid, then the Droid X my ATK usage followed. That was until I read on another Android news site an article on this very subject. Basically here is how it breaks down.

The Task Killer Misconception

The Android OS likes to have open apps in the background then pause them. Unlike Windows when the RAM is full the system doesn’t slow down. Basically Android loads the apps that it thinks you’ll use and pauses them. This allows for quick loading when accessing the app. Then when you are done with the app and say, move on to something else the OS pauses that app and resources are dropped down to nil. When the RAM starts to become overloaded Android kills off the oldest processes allowing some memory to be free for other processes and diverting a system freeze or lock up. When accessing a task killer, and killing off all the apps being used, other apps will open up in their places. This in turn uses more CPU power (the real killer of battery life) to load these apps in the background. The more apps you kill, the more apps load, the more CPU power is used and the more battery life is drained. The cycle repeats.

Task Killer Actual Uses

However, this does not mean that you should ignore task killers completely. I have two of them installed on my Droid Incredible 2 as I type this. Most task killers have useful features that I use almost daily. Task Killer Pro has an App2SD feature that makes it easy to batch move multiple apps to the SD card. SuperBox Pro has a built in file manager and an App2SD feature as well nullifying the need for multiple apps that do the same thing. The task killer in each has a a key use; to kill apps. Every now and again I have run into an app that isn’t functioning the way it should; apps stop working, or slow down immensely or even causes a major lock up of the rest of the system. These task killers allow to kill this one app and restore efficiency back to the OS.

task killerThe App2SD Feature

So to conclude, the need for task killers to preserve battery life is a myth. While at some point this may have been the case, it is no longer. Most task killers developers have added features to their apps to continue to be useful. While they shouldn’t be used as religiously as I used to use them they are quite useful in killing that misbehaving app. When a carrier representative tells you to install one of these apps to save battery, do so. That is one less app you have to install yourself. But when they do, know that it is for a completely different reason.

Jack Holt is an Android Enthusiast. When he isn’t playing with various ROMs on his Droid Incredible 2 or Motorola Xoom he is surfing the internet for various news and tweaks for Android. That is when his fiancée isn’t getting on his case about homework for his degree in EMS Management.

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