Close Your Apps!

by on January 9, 2012 · 54 comments

The best part of having an iPhone is using apps. Without apps an iPhone is just a phone, and not even a great phone. But with apps an iPhone transforms into a mobile computer, gaming device, radio, weather station, flashlight, GPS, internet browser, email server, camera and toothbrush. Okay, well, not a toothbrush, but you get the idea.

As we use/play with apps, darting from one app to the next, it’s easy to forget that we have a lot of apps open. On a computer you close a program to see the home screen, but on an iPhone apps seem to disappear when you go back to the home screen.

Your phone will run more smoothly and have longer battery life when you close apps. You don’t need to close them every time you use them, but closing them about once a day will make a big difference in the performance of your iPhone.

How to Close Apps

On the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch you can see what apps are open by double-clicking the home button. This reveals the Task Bar at the bottom of the screen which shows icons of the last four apps you used. Swipe the Task Bar to the left and you can see more icons. Keep swiping until you get to the end to see all your open apps.

Swiping the Task Bar to the right reveals iPod music controls such as volume, play, fast forward and rewind.

To close the apps, press an icon until the icons wiggle and a hyphen in a red circle appears in the upper left corner of the icons. Press on the red circle to close the app.

Keep closing the apps until your Task Bar is clear.

Only press the red circle on the icons in the Task Bar. Pressing the red circle on an icon on the screen above the Task Bar deletes the app from your iPhone.

Fact or Opinion?

My advice on closing apps is not without controversy. Last week, an app developer, Fraser Speirs, wrote that, contrary to the advice given by many experts, including Genuises at Apple Stores, people don’t need to close apps on the iPhone. You can read his article here: Misconceptions About iOS Multitasking. He states that the icons in the Task Bar show the last apps you used, not the running apps, and you don’t need to close them as they don’t drain your battery or use memory.

I respectfully disagree with him. Granted, I am not an app developer, but I have owned iPhones, iPads and an iPod Touch, and used apps since the opening of the App Store. I have seen the difference when I close my apps versus when I leave my apps open. Closing apps means my device will run more smoothly and have a longer battery life.

Free Memory Demo

But I also have other evidence for my claim that closing apps makes a difference in addition to being told by the Geniuses at the Apple Store that closing apps was advisable. I have an app called Free Memory that was briefly in the iTunes App Store until it was removed by Apple (it was re-launched as a similar app, Memory, in the iTunes App Store). Free Memory shows you how much free memory you have on your iPhone.

Free memory is memory your phone isn’t using. The less memory your phone is using, the more smoothly it will run and the less power it will use.

I launched Free Memory when I had 15 apps open on my iPhone. (Note that the Free Memory app also frees up memory on the phone, but I waited until this process was completed before taking these pictures of my screen.)

Here is the picture of my phone when those apps were open, showing how much unused memory I had on my phone:

 

I then opened the Task Bar and close 13 out of the 15 apps I had open. I left open Free Memory and a voice mail app. This is how much unused memory I had after I closed the 13 apps:

I freed up 138.71 mb of memory by closing 13 apps, increasing my free memory by 70.8%.

So, in spite of Fraser Speirs’ article, I am sticking by my advice:

Close your apps.

Do Your Own Research

If you are wondering who is correct, do your own research. You can download the Memory app from the iTunes App Store for $0.99 and check your phone’s free memory with apps open versus closed.

But you don’t need an app to show you how much better your phone will run when your apps are closed. You can also see how quickly the battery drains by testing your phone overnight. Leave the apps open on a fully charged phone overnight and see how much battery is left by the morning. The next night close all of your apps on your fully charged phone and then see how much battery is left the following morning.

If you try these experiments, please let us know your results in the Comments section below.

Do you close your apps? Do you notice a difference in battery life when you close your apps? Does your iPhone run more smoothly after you have closed your apps? Let us know in the Comments section below!

 

* Image of floating iPhone apps by Rudy Herman

Comments on this entry are closed.

Ruth - The Freelance Writing Blog January 9, 2012 at 9:06 am

Okay…EVERY one of my apps was open. I had no idea! I closed all but the ones that I use on a daily basis, and I am going to make it a habit of closing everything at the end of the day. I will let you know if I see a difference in my battery life. By the way, I found several tooth brushing apps – no joke :-) !

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 9, 2012 at 11:19 am

Hi Ruth, Wow, every one of your apps was open? At least you’re making good use of your apps. If you get into the routine of closing your apps at the end of the day before you go to bed, you will be able to start each day with a better functioning iPhone.

You’re right, I had no idea there were so many tooth brushing apps in iTunes, though none that actually turns your iPhone into a tooth brush. I don’t think I could recommend such an app anyway. But you gave me a great idea for a future blog topic! :-)
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Michael January 9, 2012 at 9:08 am

COOLNESS!

Finally, thank you very much.

i didnt know what to do with this 5 minute battery..and now i get it.

thanks again

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 9, 2012 at 11:31 am

Hi Michael, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I’m glad you found this advice helpful. You may also find that there is one app in particular that is draining your battery. Try turning off Location services and push notifications. (See, To Push or Not to Push? for more information (http://www.wonderoftech.com/2011/05/apps-to-push-or-not-to-push/).

Good luck and keep us posted! :-)
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Janet Callaway
Twitter:
January 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Carolyn, aloha. What you have to say makes sense from a logic standpoint. That you can back it up with these screenshots is all the more reason for IOwners to go with your advice. When I become one, I certainly will.

Best wishes for a fabulous week ahead. Aloha. Janet

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Hi Janet, Thank you very much for your kind words. Reasonable people can disagree. No matter how the iOS operating system is supposed to work with apps, I have seen for a long time how it actually does work with apps. I want Wonder of Tech readers to know why I am recommending that they close their apps when an expert says it isn’t necessary.

I hope you have a wonderful week also, Janet! :-)
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iggy January 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I agree that closing apps saves battery life. You gave great directions on how to do it.

The only app I never close is one you reviewed before, DataMan. Does DataMan need to be open all the time to collect the information on usage?

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 9, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Hi Iggy, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I checked with the DataMan developer who informed me that you can close DataMan unless you use the Precision Tracking feature in DataMan Pro. If you use that feature, then you shouldn’t remove the app from the Task Bar.

I hope this helps. :-)

iRewardChart
Twitter:
January 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Fraser is partly right (I think), the apps shown on dbl-click are the apps that are running, as well as the apps used in recent past. Some apps use backgrounding to keep processing even after you close them. For example, we decided against our app to use backgrounding. So everytime you start it, you start a new instance.

I again admire the design sense here. For the end user it doesn’t matter whats running whats not. They need to access apps quickly, and this provides a nice way. My 3yr old daughter knows how to use it, even though she cares a less about freeing up memory :-)

Talking of app-switching, I discovered three gestures accidentally on my iPad.
1) Take 4 fingers, swipe from right to left to switch to previous app
2) 4 fingers swipe up to reveal the same running apps list (same as dbl-clicking the home button)
3) 5 fingers swiping in (as if crumpling a paper) to close an app.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Hi iRewardChart, How exceptionally helpful to have the perspective of a developer when discussing this issue. I am no expert on app development, but I know what has helped as I’ve used my devices over the years. When multi-tasking was first launched on iOS, my 3GS would regularly overheat, to the point where I had to put it in the refrigerator to cool it off after I had closed my apps.

I agree, the Task Bar is a handy way to access frequently used apps. I usually keep a few apps open that I use frequently.

Thanks for letting us know about those iPad gestures. Numbers 2 and 3 worked for me, number one didn’t for some reason. These are very handy if you want to avoid pressing the Home button. If you have a partner who is a light sleeper, these apps will be very useful!
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Cindy January 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Such a nice article! I haven’t heard about this method of closing apps until I came to your blog. That means that I’ve never closed any apps since I use apple devices(iPad, iPhone). I’m looking forward to mark some changes with your tips, thanks for sharing them ;-)

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Hi Cindy, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! You’ll probably find a lot of apps open on your devices, lol! I hope you’re able to speed up your iPhone and iPad and improve their battery life!

Please do stop by again and let us know how it all worked out for you. :-)
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Adrienne
Twitter:
January 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Oh boy, all of mine were open too because you know when I got the iPod I of course was punching everything checking it all out. I had no idea I hadn’t closed them. But now I definitely know how thanks to you Carolyn, That was a very easy explanation and I was able to close all of mine. What a relief!

I’ll be curious now to see if my battery last a little longer but I doubt it will be much.

Have a great day Carolyn and thanks again.
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 9, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Hi Adrienne, You’re right, if you’ve never closed your apps, you probably have a lot open! But the good news with the iPod Touch is that battery life isn’t as much of an issue as it is with the iPhone. Still, your device will run better with the apps closed.
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Cathy | Treatment Talk
Twitter:
January 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Hi Carolyn,

This is another reason that I enjoy reading your blog, as I had no idea that I should be closing my apps to save memory. I will definitely get on that and save some memory. Thanks for sharing. Your explanation was easy to follow.

If you get a chance, take a peek at my latest post. I put in a link to your blog as well as Adriennes’. Although we write about different topics, I like to share helpful blogs, as everyone can use tips on personal technology.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Hi Cathy, I’m so glad I could be of help to you. Your blog and your great work help so many others, it’s nice to be able to be of assistance to you.

Thank you very much for the shoutout in your blog post! I am truly honored to be mentioned as a source for tech information along with Adrienne.

Congratulations on publishing your ebook, Cathy! I wish you much success with it. :-)
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Pete Goumas January 9, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Thanks for the advice, Carolyn. I’m always in need of help when it comes to my phone.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Hi Pete, I’m glad this was helpful to you. Please ask if you have any specific questions about your phone. The Wonder of Tech is here to help! :-)
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Bill Dorman January 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Was this for me?……… :-) . Yes I have been closing them but I am still barely making it through the day with my battery. It hasn’t been too bad, but I do keep my chargers handy.

Good info, thanks for sharing.
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 9, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Hi Bill, lol, no, this post wasn’t for you because I had already told you this information. I have some bad news for you, though. Because you have a smartphone, you will not be able to get much more than a day out of the battery. Unlike non-smartphones, the batteries on smartphone are taxed throughout the day when you retrieve email, search the web, open apps, etc.

If you get in the habit of plugging it into the charger every night, you will wake with a full charge in the morning. Also be sure to keep a charge cord in your car and plug in your phone to juice it up as you drive.

If you want to feel better about the battery life on your iPhone, talk to someone who has an Android phone. :-)
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Ira January 10, 2012 at 2:32 am

I’m not really a techie person, and usually I would find it hard to use some apps and close it..But I do some research that could help me learn new things if I have a new gadget. Thanks for the post!

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 10, 2012 at 11:39 am

Hi Ira, I’m glad this article was helpful for you! Check back for more great tech tips coming soon.

Patricia January 10, 2012 at 9:04 am

Hi Carolyn

When I progress to an iphone then I will be back to follow your instructions ;-) I so am not into techie stuff and cling to my basic cell phone and hope it holds out a bit longer lol

Hope 2012 is a good one Carolyn and I’ll be back to check out what other amazing posts you have for us.

Patricia Perth Australia

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Hi Patricia, Welcome back to The Wonder of Tech! You’re not the only one who is satisfied with her cell phone. This site is designed for fun and useful tech. I’m certain you’ll be able to find other posts that you will enjoy, regardless of your cell phone ownership.

Best of luck with the re-launch of your wonderful blog, Patricia! :-)
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Carmen January 10, 2012 at 11:15 am

Closed all my apps! Phew! Thanks for the info!

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 10, 2012 at 11:37 am

Hi Carmen, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I’m so glad this article could be helpful to you. :-)

Laura E. Pence January 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Hi Carolyn!

The apps that “run in the background” definitely take up memory and use the battery faster. Those that don’t- don’t. At least that has been my experience and my understanding since the days before the apps could be accessed by the task bar. I used to have to completely turn off my iPhone 3G quite regularly. It will come as no surprise to you that I am considered a “power-user” by Apple. LOL I’ve been using Mophie Juicepacks to extend my battery life for years. When I forget to close out the apps that I’m not actively using I definitely see a much faster drain on my battery. It’s good that you’re here to share these things with people! Your blog is so USEFUL! :-)

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Hi Laura, While there may be certain apps that don’t use up battery when they’re open, why bother trying to figure out which ones run down your power. Best to close all of them or almost all of them.

I do keep some open to have them handy. My favorites are ones that I want to access easily so I keep them in the Task Bar.

I had a Mophie Juice Pack for my 3GS but I haven’t gotten one for my 4S yet. I do miss having one.

Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your awesome comment, Laura. I’m so glad you’re enjoying The Wonder of Tech!
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Cheng January 10, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Useful and interesting information madam for those who don’t know about it. I already have knowledge that open apps will utilize battery more and make processing slow too.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 10, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Hi Cheng, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I’m glad you knew this information already so you could enjoy the benefits of longer battery life and a smoother running phone. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!

Jack
Twitter:
January 10, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I try to make a point to close my apps. Granted it is a Droid but I think the same principles apply here. The battery drain and the eventual slowing of the phone are my biggest complaints with apps in general.
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Hi Jack, I started to include Android phones in this article, but I quickly realized that closing Android apps was a separate article. There are a lot of app closing apps that offer different advantages.

Whether or not closing apps on the Android phone saves power is also a topic of controversy.

Live wallpapers are the apps that drain my Android phone the most quickly. The idea of live wallpaper is great but the trade-off of battery life just isn’t worth it.
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Jens P. Berget
Twitter:
January 11, 2012 at 7:04 am

Hi Carolyn,

I am closing my apps almost every single day. I used to do this like once a week, but now (especially since my kids are playing with my phone all the time), I need to do it at least once a day. And, after upgrading to the new iOS, my iPhone 3GS is very slow. I probably have to buy the iPhone 4S sometime soon… I know I have been talking about it for months :-)
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 12, 2012 at 11:23 am

Hi Jens, I found my 3GS was very slow running iOS 5 also. I think the operating system asks a lot of the 3GS. But I didn’t want to give up the features of the updated iOS so I’m glad things are running more smoothly with the 4S.

I agree, sometimes when I close the apps on my iPhone or iPad, I find my kids have been playing games. Caught! :-)
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CarolB January 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Thanks for clearing up why I need to close apps. I’ve been closing them for quite some time, but didn’t completely know why. Now I do.
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 13, 2012 at 10:36 am

Hi Carol, that’s great that you have been enjoying the benefits of closed apps, even though you didn’t realize it! If your battery life is ever too long for you or you want your iPhone to run more slowly, try keeping your apps open. ;-)
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Betsy Cross January 12, 2012 at 5:17 am

I want to get an iPhone for the geocaching app…that’s all! I’ll have to favorite this post (and remember to read it)! Thanks Carolyn!
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 13, 2012 at 10:50 am

Hi Betsy, I’ve been geocaching with my iPhone and it’s a lot of fun! What’s really cool is that I always have my iPhone with me so my kids and I can do some impromptu geocaches when we’re on the go.

Make sure to check out Filed under: Geocaching: Your Real Life Treasure Hunt! http://www.wonderoftech.com/2011/06/geocaching-your-real-life-treasure-hunt/ by guest author Carol, discussing ways to geocache using all kinds of tech!
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Simon Duck January 12, 2012 at 8:44 am

My brother let me know about this little trick before Christmas and it has kept my iPod running for a lot longer. When I first double clicked I found that everything was open, and even though they aren’t the main tasks, as you say, they are bound to take up more battery power.

I shut everything now unless I use it regularly.

Regards,
Simon Duck
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Hi Simon, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! I’m glad you have been enjoying longer battery life by closing your apps. It doesn’t take long to close your apps but it makes a big difference! :-)
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Bell January 13, 2012 at 5:12 am

Carolyn, as you know, I don’t use an iPhone, but I came here to commend you on this: “Without apps an iPhone is just a phone, and not even a great phone.”
It is this kind of honesty that sets you aside from other tech bloggers.

What you said about apps, though, applies to any computing device, especially mobile ones. We tend to be a little sloppy about multitasking and get our panties in a knot when gadgets underperform.

Btw, if the iPhone is not a great phone by itself, then what other phone would you recommend? I am looking to get an Android device later this year.
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Bell, thank you so much for your very kind words! I do try to tell it like it is, I want Wonder of Tech readers to know the truth.

You post a great question, worthy of its own article. If you want a great phone, don’t get a smartphone. Smartphones are made to be mini-portable computers, not phones. People who get smartphones sometimes even forget that they work as phones.

Some people who got iPads traded in their smartphones for regular mobile phones because they figured their iPad served as a mobile computer and their mobile phone should be a good phone.

So don’t rule out the iPhone because it’s not a great phone. Android phones aren’t any better at being phones than iPhones.
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Praveen Rajarao
Twitter:
January 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Carolyn – I am sure this makes sense the more you think about it. It is like ending those services in your laptop which keeps running in the background which you use once in a bluemoon.

I will give it a try and update this comment with what I noticed. The stats you have given above are great, if you free up so much memory your phone will surely behave great.
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Hi Praveen, I will be very interested in learning your results. I hope closing your apps helps your battery life quite a bit! :-)
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Cat Alexandra January 15, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Hey Carolyn,

This one made me giggle. I recently switched from BlackBerry to Android and well, let’s just say that though it’s been a lot of fun getting onto Android, there was a little bit of learning curve to pick up the nuances of the new OS.

I’m not on iPhone, but did have a similar experience to Ruth with her iPhone. lol I didn’t know how to tell what all was running and basically every bell and whistle my smartphone had was up and on. Talk about a BATTERY DRAIN!

I think it’s always a good idea to make sure that we’re only running what we need. What’s that saying, less is more?? ;-)

Great step by step!

Cat

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Hi Cat, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech! You’re right, it’s the same on Android phones, but the process of closing apps is much different. I plan on writing a separate article on the topic, but in the meantime, you should check out some task killer Android apps to streamline the process.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your awesome comment, Cat!
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Charity January 15, 2012 at 9:52 pm

To be truthful, if the case were truly that these are the most recently used apps, then my Etsy app would not be listed as I have not used that in over a month! These apps are definitely the ones that are actually open as there are some apps I have on my iPhone that I haven’t used at all yet that were not listed.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Hi Charity, yes, the Task Bar is very handy in retrieving apps you have recently used. Some people keep apps open in their Task Bar so they can have easy access to them at any time. Great point!
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steve81 January 21, 2012 at 3:25 pm

“He states that the icons in the Task Bar show the last apps you used, not the running apps, and you don’t need to close them as they don’t drain your battery or use memory.
I respectfully disagree with him.”

I think you misunderstood Fraser Speirs. The multitasking bar shows the last apps you used, whether they are running or not.

“Free memory is memory your phone isn’t using. The less memory your phone is using, the more smoothly it will run and the less power it will use.”

This is simply not true. Using more memory doesn’t use more battery life. Also, a suspended app doesn’t use the CPU, hence doesn’t use any battery power. If you do close a suspended app, you’ll end up using more power to relaunch the app.

“You can also see how quickly the battery drains by testing your phone overnight. Leave the apps open on a fully charged phone overnight and see how much battery is left by the morning. The next night close all of your apps on your fully charged phone and then see how much battery is left the following morning.”

If you have less battery power when not closing your apps, you might have an app running indefinitely in the background. There are 3 possibilities for this : Audio, Location or VOIP. Audio probably isn’t your issue, since you wouldn’t leave your device playing audio overnight. Location is easy to verify, just check if the location icon appears on the top. I suspect your issue might be with a VOIP app. VOIP apps can run indefinitely in the background to listen for incoming calls. I you got one of these apps, you just need to close that app to save battery.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Hi Steve, Welcome to The Wonder of Tech. Thank you very much for this in-depth analysis of my article. You are clearly well-versed on the intricacies of iOS.

I understand your points, however, I also have seen the results of closing apps and still believe that closing apps conserves battery power. In my test with the Free Memory app, I did not have any VOIP apps running. Before and after I closed my apps, location services were active (see the purple location arrow on both screen images above).

Perhaps most apps lie dormant in the background, neither using power nor memory. But users shouldn’t have to figure out which apps are still running actively in the background. If they close all of their apps, they won’t have to worry about needing to discover which ones are battery hogs.
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Jayme Soulati January 31, 2012 at 9:12 am

Fascinating. Even before I read the entire post, I went to the iPhone to see how many apps I had open. Uhhmm, can you say ALL of them? Not sure what happens now when I go back to find my photos as I closed everything, but I bet my memory will thank you. And, I thank you!
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr January 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Hi Jayme, I’m so glad this post helped you! No worries, you didn’t lose any photos by closing apps. They’re all still there, along with your high scores in games and any saved passwords you may have entered.

I hope your iPhone runs more smoothly now and that your battery life is much better! :-)

Jayme Soulati February 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Just came back to tell you someone asked me about my iPhone battery life; I said, I’m going to send you a blog post that tells you why your battery is dying. You have too many apps open!

Thanks, Carolyn, for your expertise. I knew right where I read that and how I closed mine, too! (Now I need a refresher for myself, too.) I just sent your blog along to a woman who is greener than a newbie.
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Carolyn Nicander Mohr February 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Hi Jayme, Thanks so much for sharing this post with others. No need to be a techie here, this blog is written for people who are greener than newbies.

Closing your apps is a very easy way to increase your battery life and help your phone run more smoothly!

Have a great week, Jayme! :-)

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