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iOS versus Android: Multi Tasking Conundrum

urlMany people have fallen in love with the Galaxy Note 2’s multi tasking feature and on the Galaxy Note 10.1 but what about iOS multi tasking? Why hasn’t it taken off?

The simple answer is really the cost of onboard RAM.

Mobile devices have a very complicated way of using RAM. On the iPhone you have about 1GB of RAM (it’s more like 977 GB after formatting the RAM segments into usable memory space). The Galaxy Note 2 has 2GB of RAM (also a tad less after format) and so does the Galaxy Note 10.1.

The iPhone and it’s iPad siblings all have 1GB of RAM (with the exception of the iPad Mini which only has 512GB).

What we often get confused with is the use of Internal Storage (which is often quoted in 16GB, 32GB or 64GB). Internal storage is used differently by the processor while the absolute RAM is what determines the multi tasking capability.

What Samsung did with the the GN 2 is no rocket science. They just doubled the amount of RAM and allowed apps to run and used at the same time on one screen.

Apple can do the same thing with its iOS devices, just double down the amount of RAM and make APIs  for true multitasking. Why it hasn’t done so boils down to cost. By making it multi-task, it also makes it more expensive. Since there is a price point in which people are willing to pay for a device, Apple stands to make more money by debasing the hardware to its bare minimum to run its slew of apps. Technically, Apple makes you pay more for less hardware.

Android devices were made in the same vein as iPhones, with limited RAM. I remember owning my Acer Liquid Android phone that only had 512MB of RAM. With apps that has onboard tracking and notification, it will stay resident in RAM and refuse to be booted out. Facebook for example occupies 21 MB of RAM. It does not seem like much but once you add on all the bloatware, it will take a hefty chuck of RAM from you.

Once available RAM space is limited, you will start to see some lag and performance problems. That is why you have these apps that zap or reset the RAM with a push of a button. Next question, how effective is this? Not very I’m afraid.

Each app on Android require permissions to run and once you download them, its like saying yes to everything they think you need. Apps that need notification access and tracking via GPS often stay resident even after you have boosted your RAM space with a reset. The app will re-load these instructions into your Android RAM once they are turned on and keep them there until the next time you do another RAM reset. Just take a peep into your Task Manager and check the RAM availability and you’d be surprised to see just how many apps are camped out in your RAM partition. It listed Facebook as the number one culprit, with 21MB! Google Plus doesn’t even need half that much.

Apple doesn’t offer true multi tasking and as such, do not have such RAM related problems. But you will noticed that even in iOS, the iPhone does slow to a crawl once you have left too many apps open in the background.

This could change once more RAM is installed. Personally I would pay to have more RAM but that’s not remotely possible. “Obsolesce” is what keeps these people in business so each time your hardware gets old, best to toss out the old and bring in the new.

Samsung’s Jellybean Update for Galaxy Note

I would also like to caution those who are eagerly awaiting the Galaxy Note’s Jellybean upgrade to bring this multi tasking capability. It will not run well if you don’t have enough RAM onboard. The original GN just doesn’t have it to run two apps at the same time even though it is technically possible (try tossing Facebook app from your device for a start) if you cleared up enough space for it. Aside from this, battery drain will also be an issue as it has a much smaller battery than compared to the new Galaxy Note 2.

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Asus Transformer Pad TF300: Updates on Jellybean 4.1

You folks who have not yet upgraded your TF300 to Jellybean, well hold on to your horse as it’s just like what I have predicted.

Having experimented with ICS, the Jellybean update came as scheduled and I updated it without much thought. After 4 days, these are some of my observations:-

  • Great UI response, flicking from one screen is smoother
  • Transition screens from one app to another is faster
  • Memory management issue remains the same. Apps not fully Jelly Bean friendly
  • From Sleep to Coma. The TF300 does not wake up after a long sleep cycle. The only way is a hard reset.
  • Intermittent resets. Apps running in the background can cause the hardware to reset.
  • Battery runs HOT. Looping background apps. Seems like the same issue The Galaxy Note faced after the upgrade from Gingerbread to ICS. First Time TF300 faces this issue.
  • Battery Life has not improved. Ditto from ICS.

From the looks of it, ICS to Jelly Bean isn’t as smooth as expected. There is no harm in letting ICS sit around a while longer before you update to Jelly Bean.

As soon as I updated to Jellybean, a slew of other apps were downloaded to meet the compatibility requirements. But as of now, the list is still far and few.

Apps that are suspected of causing resets are those which perform notification functions and updates. You could try to weed out these non-compatible apps one by one after you installed Jellybean but I doubt it will help much. The chief reason is that the core apps from Asus should work. Games and other apps will have issues and unless you don’t use them much, uninstalling could be a good way to get around this.