Fast app switching | Android Central

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 Yes, that is Samus as my wallpaper ;)

Want to switch apps on the fly? Thanks to true multitasking and Android's fast app switcher, seen above, it's a breeze. It's build into Android. No downloads required. It shows your most recently used apps (the number may vary depending on how a phone has been customized), which is great when you want to jump back to your browser after firing off a quick e-mail or in thousands of other situations.

The fast app launcher is super easy and quick to access, just hold down the "Home" button on the phone. You then just click on the app you want, and it opens. It's that simple, and that awesome. 

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Fast app switching


Please keep the Android 101 articles coming. I'm a 34 year old mom and proud owner of a Droid Incredible. While I actually knew about this particular tip, I check this site almost daily for things just like this. Love the articles about app picks too!

I would like an Exit option added to apps. Most times, if its a game, I end up just pausing the game and pressing the home button to "exit" the game. This leaves it running in the background even though i might not want to play the game again for a while. Also, most of the music apps don't seem to have an exit button either and most don't even have a STOP button (mortplayer is one that DOES). I end up just going into the app and "pausing" the music and again, pressing the home app. This leaves the apps running in the background even though I may not want to use them again for the rest of the day. Perhaps a long hold on "back" would actually terminate the app instead of just "minimizing" it and returning me to the home screen. I have to say though that I'm very impressed overall with the fact that the Moto Droid doesn't ever seem to slow down with the number of apps that I use througout the day, so props to Android's built-in app management capabilities.

Many apps (like Pandora) have a "quit" option when you hit Menu. This is a sign of well coded apps, and I think all (or most) devs should include this in their apps.

Thank you guys for posting this! Being a new Android user (coming from BlackBerry)I was trying to find the app switcher but never could until now lol.

BTW, Please don't tell people the long-home popup is a tool for "switching apps on the fly". It only shows the 6 apps most recently launched from-the-home-screen. There are better free true task switchers available.

If you want a decent task-switching tool, try Prehome:

It's not perfect, but its the best I've found so far. It shows you all current apps and a bunch of recently closed apps as well. You can configure the number of apps it shows. And you can use it to selectively kill apps you don't need anymore.

It works off the home button. If you make it the default home app, tell Prehome what your main home app is. Then double-pressing home will take you to your main home screen. Not great, but blame it on Google who decided that the long-home button-press was going to be hardcoded to launch that minimal-use 6-app window...

I'm having problem with this. I see HTC sense as one of the apps running and then it ask me what default home I want to use. I pick HTC sense but it doesn't remember it. I get the same pop up every time I hold the home to see the 6 apps. I went threw the setting, restart and nothing need help how fix this thank

Sounds like you're tapping the home button instead of long-pressing it.

When Android presents a dialog asking which app to handle a task for there is a check box at the bottom of the list labeled 'always use this app for this action' (or something very close to that.)

Check that box *before* you select an app and you won't be asked next time.

+1 for blogging about "Android 101" stuff. Just this month I've talked three friends into getting Android phones, and I know they appreciate these types of posts. (I send them here to read up on apps, since the first question ALWAYS is, "What apps should I get?")

I laugh at people who think

"Oh, right, the people who throw their device manuals straight into the trash or recycling without opening them, I always forget about them because stupid people should not use smartphones. :-)"

Perhaps most of us don't need to read a manual to figure things out ;P

What is amazing is that Android doesn't allow a screen grab... Doh! Someone at Google REALLY needs to get to work on that...

I like AC posting articles like this since we need to WELCOME new Android users rather than make them all feel "stupid." You know, like we all were before we were educated on any subject...

Keep up the good work!

You know how to drive a car but do you buy a new car and not read the manual? I hope not.

Manuals are not just for learning the basics of devices, but also for learning about features that are not obvious or easily discovered, or are new.

They also prevent you from clogging up user forums with questions that were answered in the manual before the product even shipped.

RTFM. It's what's for breakfast.

This will be the subject of tomorrow's post. But until then: ( ) Cheers! =]

They really need to educate the buyer before they even pay for any Android phone. While activating, they should show the user how to manage there phones battery life. If you read Any post about battery life, its most likely a new Android owner. I'm a new Android owner myself, as also my wife. But if I never found this site months ago I would have never knew anything about the task killer apps. I do say that having a program running in the background that you forgot about or had something else get your attention, then your battery just runs down fast. They should have a task app killer installed on all new Android phones, and sellers like or just whoever is selling you the phone show you how to use it and set up the app killer. When I got my Evo, they gave me a paper saying turn off this and that such as WiFi and 4g, but it was the apps in the background running that was really taking the life of my phone.

Android has a task killer installed on all devices. It's in your settings menu. Apps like ATK just make a nicer icon. But more importantly, you don't need to use any task killer. Android, especially android 2.0 or later, is very efficient at killing apps automatically as you need them.

Apps running in the background will not kill your battery unless they are poorly coded, or you have a TON of "feed" apps (twitter, facebook, etc) running in the background.

This form of multitasking is really terrible imo. Windows Mobile and I think Blackberry did the same thing and it really sucks. The problem is you end up with tons of apps running in the background until your phone becomes slow and battery drains. Only way to close apps was going to a task manager. Android needs to have a better way of closing applicaitons and managing multitasking. The Palm Pre handles multitasking in a much better way.

No, it's COMPLETELY different form WINMO and Blackberry.

First off, if an app is put into the background, MOST of them are put into a save state, that consumes next to no system resources. If something is running in the background 90% of the time it will have an icon showing in the background telling you it's consuming resources.

As for memory, Android has a BUILT IN task manager that will auto-kill the app save states if it needs additional memory based on a priority system.

The ONLY reason you should need a task killer is if you're running a poorly coded app. If this is the case, Uninstall the application until the dev fixes the problem.

Yes, the Pre has a nicer view to shut down applications, but android does not require ANY visible task management. More often than not, Task killers contribute to problems, they don't solve them.

Please copy/paste that on every single article on every single Android site on the internet.

I don't want or need a bunch of cards taking up resources to tell me what is running in the background. I want my phone to be smart enough to handle that itself.


While in theory I agree with you, I have tested with and without task managers, and the only way I get a full day out of my Moto Droid is WITH a task manager. I try not to install poorly coded apps, and most apps I install are apps like Evernote, Skype, Mint, Dropbox, or other larger name companies. These could be poorly coded, but the fact still remains, it works better with a task manager.

I for one do think that Google needs to put some more effort into task management. The everyday user just doesn't want to deal with it, and if they want widespread adoption outside of the tech world, they need to make it easier, plain and simple.

Overall though, couldn't be happier with my purchase and love the future of Android.

Most likely you have a poorly coded app, or an app that is preventing your phone from sleeping. My Dinc is on it's second day off the charger right now and still sitting @ 68% battery life on the stock battery. My battery life got much better once I figured out which apps were preventing the phone from sleeping or downloading huge amounts of data in the background. Your droid should have better battery life than my Incredible, so you have something consuming your battery at an alarming rate.

You don't need ATK to force close a misbehaving app, you just need a better app to do what you are looking to do.

I just want to know why on my Evo, tasks that I "kill" keep re-appearing for no apparent reason (and no, I am not rebooting nor launching them nor using widgets that call them).

Examples include the Sprint crap apps (like that football junk), footprints, amazon MP3, news, stocks.

Because those things are set to auto launch so they don't hesitate has you boot them up.

Android is programmed to keep a set amount of memory free at all times. If you "kill" apps, then they will reload until that threshold is reached.

Again, why Task Killers arn't needed

But since many of those apps I have NEVER run, it must be some hard-coded setting that Sprint did. How irritating. Wouldn't it be much better to let the OS decide based on my usage pattern?

What's easier than letting the phone do it for you?

If anything, all android needs to do is update their battery status window to show which devices keep phone from sleeping, and which ones download the most data.

a task killer of ANY form ads more confusion for the user.

More like supposed "tech blogs" are spreading misinformation (intentionally or out of ignorance) about how Multi-tasking works on android. There are a lot of new android customers reading this site, and as one of the more popular android news sites, it's important to them to set the record straight.

Google is activating 160,000 new Android devices per day, many of those go to first-time Android users. This is for them =]

Oh, right, the people who throw their device manuals straight into the trash or recycling without opening them, I always forget about them because stupid people should not use smartphones. :-)