Swiping your finger across the screen to quickly close an application you are not using is a very common practice. Some say it serves to save battery. But it is a false myth. I will tell you why.

If you have a smartphone, it is likely that more than once you have closed the applications you do not use. It is as easy as sliding your finger across the screen so that they disappear as if by magic. It is almost automatic.

Why do we do it? It can be annoying to have too many applications open. In addition, it is said that these apps spend battery even if we are not using them and that, therefore, it is better to close them quickly. But the designers of Apple and Android do not agree.

According to the engineers, closing the applications in the background (this is the name given to those apps that we are not currently using) does not help to avoid wasting batteries. In fact, closing them suddenly can have the opposite effect and in the end, our phone consumes more energy because of that process.

A question of algorithms

Many people still do, but the vice president of engineering for Android – one of the founding members of the Android team at Google – Hiroshi Lockheimer, said it on Twitter some time ago that doing it “can even make things worse”, because trying to deceive the algorithm can damage the system.

Tim Cook, the executive director of Apple said that the applications that run in the background do not damage at all the battery of the iPhone, so it does not make sense to close them suddenly. But what is the logic behind that statement?

Contrary to what many believe, these applications do not consume the battery 100%. What happens is that, by keeping them suspended, the operating system – be it iOS or Android – allows you to return to them just as you left them when you were using them.

If you close the application by force, it will only cause an unnecessary battery expense, because it forces the system to reactivate the process when you start the app again, consuming twice as much energy without any need.

The only reasons to close an application suddenly is that it suffers an unexpected failure or there is a virus. If not, it is better to let the phone software act on its own. Mobile algorithms are created to efficiently manage the memory of the device. And its operation has a lot to do with multitasking. In the case of iOS, there are five possible states for an app, technology journalist David Pierce wrote in Wired, and Android works in a very similar way, he adds.

• not working (the app did not open)

• active (we have it open on the screen and we are using it)

• inactive (a transition phase, because it is on the screen while doing something else)

• in background (you can remain active doing background operations for up to 10 minutes)

• suspended (in the background and doing absolutely nothing)

“Some applications such as those that play music, those that make use of the microphone or those that use the user’s location are detected by the system and are not suspended when going to background,” says on the Solid Gear’s mobile software company blog.

And all that works thanks to algorithms, says Pierce, that “they close the apps that need to be closed, usually those that have not been used for a while or are using more battery or memory than they should”.

So if algorithms seem to know very well when you are going to require more data or when it is necessary to restart an app, it’s then better to let the system work for you instead of forcing it to restart and open the apps all the time. Besides the issue of the battery, it can make your phone slower and less coherent anyway.

How to save battery?

If you want to optimize the battery, try reducing the brightness of the screen or turn off the Wi-Fi and Bluethooth signals.

You can also disconnect the data or use the “energy saving” mode and disable the geolocation of apps that do not require it (and the latter can also be good for your privacy).

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