Tips & How-to

iPhone Tip: How to Close Multitasking Apps on iOS 4

July 22, 2010 — by Simon Ng8


Tips & How-to

iPhone Tip: How to Close Multitasking Apps on iOS 4

July 22, 2010 — by Simon Ng8

How can I close the apps running in background via multitasking dock? Are all apps displayed in the dock running in background? Since the launch of iOS 4.0, I have received these questions from my friends and some of the blog readers. So I think it is better to write a blog post to share the procedures with all of you.

The multitasking feature is the most notable update for iOS 4.0. As you may know, you can double press the Home button to bring up a multitasking dock that shows all those apps running in background. You can simply tap on any of the app icons and switch to your desired app instantly.

How to Close Multitasking Apps

To close an app in the multitasking dock, you can just tap and hold an app icon until it wiggles. Then you can tap on the minus symbol and terminate the app.

That’s it. Simple, right?

Are all Apps displayed in the Dock Running in Background?

That’s the answer for the first question. What about the second question? Are the apps shown in the multitasking dock running as background apps?

Not really.

Unlike the cydia app “Backgrounder” that automatically puts app to run in background, Apple takes another approach to deliver multitasking feature while preserving battery life and performance. The app is not supposed to run in background by default. It is up to the application developer to enable the multitasking capability via the multitasking API. Apple provides seven multitasking services in iOS 4 including:

Background audio – Allows your app to play audio continuously. So users can listen to your app while they surf the web, play games, and more.

Voice over IP – Allows the VOIP app to run continuously. Users can now receive VoIP calls and have conversations while using another app. You can even receive calls when your phone are locked.

Background location – Navigation apps can now continue to run while you are listening to their iPods, or using other apps. iOS 4 provides an efficient way to monitor location when users move between cell towers. This is a great way for your social networking apps to keep track of your shared locations.

Push notifications – Receive alerts even when your app isn’t running.

Local notifications – Similar to Push notification but the notification is sent locally instead of via remote server

Task finishing – If your app is in mid-task when user leaves it, the app can now keep running to finish the task.

Fast app switching – This will allow users to leave the app and come right back to where they were when they left – no more having to reload the app.

Not all Apps Support Multitasking… It Really Depends on the Developers

For those without technical background, you may not understand the above multitasking services. But one point I would like to highlight is that not all iPhone apps support multitasking. Only those apps implemented one of the above multitasking services can be run in background. If the developer does not update the apps and make use of the multitasking functionalities in iOS 4, that app will just behave the same as you run in it in older version of iPhone OS.

How to Tell the Difference

Apparently, multitasking is a prominent feature for iOS 4. However, one thing that may confuse some of you is the apps displayed in the multitasking dock. You may also notice that the multitasking dock contains all recent applications that you have launched, no matter the app supports multitasking or not. But there is no way to tell whether the app is running in background until you switch to it. If the app resumes to the point where you left off, you can tell the app supports multitasking. When you switch to some of the apps, they go through the launch procedures and start all over again. Clearly, these apps do not support the multitasking feature.

Hopefully, this post can give you a basic understanding of multitasking feature in iOS 4 and you should know how to close those multitasking apps.

Simon Ng

Founder, developer and chief blogger of