The Samsung Galaxy S III (S3) packs the most powerful processor of any mobile phone. That means you can have multiple apps running at once and easily switch between them. 

Multitasking is still the Achilles’ heel of many a mobile device. Apple fan boys will say that the iPhone truly multitasks while those who hate on Apple will say it doesn’t truly multi task – but simply allows you to quickly switch to a new app,

Android users can certainly tout powerful processors and the capability of running things simultaneously, but not all devices make it easy to truly multitask.

Accessing recent apps on the Galaxy S3

Recent apps is the feature introduced in ICS (Android 4.0) that makes it very easy to switch between running apps on the phone. Because the Galaxy S3 has a dedicated Home button, accessing the Recent apps is a bit different than on other Ice Cream Sandwich phones like the HTC One series. To access Recent apps in order to multitask:

  1. Press and hold the Home button for about two seconds
  2. A list of recent, running apps will be displayed
  3. Scroll up and down the list
  4. Touch on any of the recent apps to jump to that app
  5. Closing running apps

Home screen  recent apps

Because the Galaxy S3 rarely lags, it is easy to forget sometimes that you have lots of apps running at once. Fortunately, it is very easy from the Recent apps screen to close down apps that may be draining memory.

  1. Press and hold the Home button
  2. Slide the app you wish to close to the right
  3. It disappears from the list of running apps and closes on your phone

slide app to the right to remove it

Removing all running apps

Removing all running apps is the best way to free up memory. If you are experiencing some lag on the phone, this is a great way to free up memory.

  1. Press and hold the Home button
  2. Touch Remove all in the lower right hand corner

remove all apps  all apps removed

You will be immediately taken back to the Home screen. If you press and hold the Home button again, you will see that there are no recent apps. 

Using the Task manager

The Task manager allows  you to selectively close running apps as well as monitor the system memory and understand how each app uses your phone’s resources.

  1. Press and hold the Home button
  2. Touch the Task manager icon in the lower left hand corner
  3. The running apps are displayed
  4. Touch End to close any one app or End all to close them all

task manager

Along the top of the Task manager are five icons

  • Active applications
  • Downloaded
  • RAM
  • Storage
  • Help

Touch the Downloaded icon to see all your apps that have been downloaded from the Google play store. You will also see just how much space each app takes up on your device. To free up space, just touch Uninstall next to the app you wish to delete.

downloaded apps  Available RAM

Touch the RAM icon to see RAM status and the RAM manager. Under that RAM manager Title bar is a warning letting you know that if you clear your memory you will end some applications and ongoing functions and that you should back up your data before you do. If you have plenty of available RAM, you won’t need to do this, but if RAM is running short, it is a good idea to touch the Clear memory button. 


Touch the Storage icon to see the System storage on your Galaxy S3.  There is nothing to control from this screen; it is simply a reporting of free storage space on your phone.

Using Pop up play

Remember, Samsung has also built in the very cool Pop up play feature to the Galaxy S3 which allows you to start a video and keep the video running on top of any other app on the phone – you can read all about it here!

To sum up, the Galaxy S3 is truly a multitasking powerhouse of a phone. It is easy to access the apps that are running, close them and monitor your system resources at the same time.


Reader comments

How to switch applications and multitask on the Galaxy S3


As is the Blackberry Playbook. Very "swipey". I never knew about the slide to the right to end a tas though. Just tried that on my galaxy note and worked like a charm.

Have too agree with Ardem23. I too just got gs3 coming straight from a Pre2. I love this phone, and ICS isn't bad. Love the toggles in drop down. Still doesn't multitask like my old friend webOS. Not a bad o.s. here though. I can see Matias Duarte fingerprints all over this.

I was under the impression that apps in the background were simply suspended and Android kept a record of where you were in the app so it could resume. I didn't think clearing recent apps did much of anything?

I was disappointed yesterday - I used my American Airlines app to check the status of a flight. I left it on that flight status page so I could refresh later. I used the phone for an hour or two to play music (PowerAmp) and stream radio (TuneIn radio). I then went to recent apps and opened American Airlines to refresh but the app opened as if it were being opened for the first time. I had to go check my Gmail for the flight number again...

The above scenario would not have happened on my far-inferior BlackBerry Torch 9800. I'm not sure why Android would have to clear out an app's memory so soon, with so little use, despite 2GB of RAM?

Good thought but I just opened it and searched a flight status. Then I exited the same way as before - with the home button. If I then go to recent apps and open it back up, it's still on the flight status page that I requested.

If I then go to recent apps and close it and reopen, it starts as normal. This is what would seem to eventually happen when Android cleans the memory. It's something I read a lot of HTC One X users complaining about and hoped the GS3 with 2GB RAM would not have an issue. That being said, there are not any large multitasking threads I've seen for the GS3 but I haven't been following XDA closely just AC.

The accessing recent apps feature works on the recently updated Galaxy S2 Skyrocket. I was able to go to a recent app from 3-4 hours ago and it took me back where I left off. Of course, I wouldn't expect this to work on a app or site that has security time outs, but this is a neat ICS feature. :-)

Its not actually a multitask, see when you come back to a browser you left behind it always reloading the page :( ...Not totally paused what you are doing but kicking out of memory XD

It seems Symbian OS is way better in multitasking LOL