Debunking the Sheep: Part 2

Today’s myth strikes home with a lot of Android users. One of the complaints about Apple is that they will often “invent” something, call it their own (often using words like “magical”), and convince everyone that they do it the best. And why shouldn’t they? They took the smartphone platform, made it their own, and every new smartphone is based on it (sorry Android fans). However, the point where people start irritating me is when they start taking something from a keynote and quote it like absolute truth. Today’s myth? Multitasking.

“…I bet you’re glad you can multitask. In fact so can I. The only difference is mine doesn’t kill my battery in an hour. Glad you have real multitasking now aren’t you? It’s what the rest of the world calls ‘battery draining.’”

This has been the talk of Android vs iOS for a long time: Multitasking. So what are the differences?

In fact so can I”

Well…kind off. I won’t say iOS can’t multitask, because it can, but a lot of people point out that it’s not the same multitasking as what you’re used to. What it essentially does is freeze apps in the background and switches tasks (with the exceptions of a few Apple specific apps, such as GPS and Music). For developers to take advantage of multitasking they have to program for it specifically (which isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong) otherwise it doesn’t give the same experience as “true multitasking.” With Android, you can start loading a youtube video and leave the loading screen to do whatever you want. Hulu video? Start loading it, switch to Angry Birds, come back in 5 minutes. You can truly have apps running in the background. While for most apps this doesn’t matter/make a difference (do you care if Angry Birds is frozen or running as long as you don’t have to restart the level?), it does make a difference for apps that want to load/progress.

The only difference is mine doesn’t kill my battery in an hour.”

Does anyone else not have a problem with this? Unless I try to absolute throttle my device with tasks my phone lasts all day (and usually more). While it is true, iOS multitasking is better for battery, that doesn’t mean that Android phones can’t come close. Knowing some tricks with your phone and your battery can last as long (if not longer) than an iPhone. Yes, it takes some learning to do it, but it’s like learning to ride a bike. Scary at first, but then you realize it’s not all that difficult.

Closing thoughts

Don’t let someone tell you that iOS has the same multitasking abilities as Android but with better battery. It doesn’t. Apple still doesn’t seem to want true multitasking on their phones, and until they choose to, it will just be “a worthless battery draining trick.” Hopefully, for everyone’s sake, it’ll be “magical” soon.

Part 1, iTunes

» See more articles by Andrew Greenfield


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  • Paranoid

    I work in an office with about 50 or so employees. Universally all Android users experience poor battery life. What I hear is that it won’t make it through the day.

    iPhone is so much better when it comes to battery life. This just can’t be explained by multi

  • Paranoid

    Can’t be explained by multitasking alone. Apple has been really methodical in handling battery life in both software and hardware design.

    Still people put up with because they live their Android phones.

  • noah

    Wow. I can’t believe you published another one of these, Andrew. You should listen to the feedback from your readers. I’m probably going to unsubscribe.

  • http://talkandroid.com Andrew Greenfield

    Alright noah, I’ll bite. Please point out where, in this article, that I was unfair to either party.

  • http://encyclopediadramatica.com/zaiger zaiger

    @noah

    By “readers” you must be referring to yourself only. Don’t let the door hit you in the @ss on your way out.

  • patjapan

    The biggest battery drain in Android, that bites most people, is the auto-sync. All the applications which by default set themselves to poll data every 15 minutes… Twitter, facebook, RSS feeds, etc… Install a few, don’t check their notification/sync settings, and you’ll find yourself with poor battery life.

    I noticed in the latest installments of the official Twitter and Facebook apps, the automatic refresh is set by default to 1 or 2 hours – used to be 15 minutes lol. STill I see a lot of apps with 15-30 minutes by default.

  • Snake

    Correct me if I’m wrong but widgets drain battery right? Iphone dont have widgets, can that help the iphone with battery life?

  • ari-free

    Yeah Andrew. You have to listen to all the iFanboys who look for Android sites in order to respond to every slight made against Apple. They are very sensitive and you don’t want to hurt their self esteem.

  • http://talkandroid.com Andrew Greenfield

    Paranoid: It’s generally accepted that Android does not have as good battery life as the iPhone. However, it honestly depends on what you’re doing with your device. Out of the box I would honestly say the iPhone has nearly twice as much battery life as most Android phones. That being said, Android phone’s ability to tweak settings actually give it the ability to have better battery life (however, this takes learning about your phone…something a lot of people have no interest in doing).

  • Di

    Noah, I’ll give you that the first post was a little out of character (his iphone vs android really is a pretty good article), but this one is spot on. you get upset when someone disagrees with your world view…it’ll be okay.
    Andrew, don’t sweat this guy. He’s trying to attack you while looking unbiased. Wee all know he’s not

  • Snake

    I’m stuck on android !il love it!

  • http://talkandroid.com Andrew Greenfield

    patjapan: You’re absolutely right. In act, when someone asks me to help them out with battery I usually go straight to their syncing settings :) (followed by explaining why GPS doesn’t always need to be on)

    Snake: this is actually (usually) false. Believe it or not, most widgets only update a few times an hour (with the exception of clocks, obviously). If your using a weather widget, for example, it probably updates once an hour IF that. It’d be no different than an iOS user checking the weather channel once an hour :). Obviously SOME widgets can kill battery, but those tend to be very obvious

  • noah

    @Andrew Greenfield

    You are the editorialist, you should do the investigative work, not publish first and ask for corrections later. But here,

    iOS apps can multitask. For example, I have a note-taking app that records audio via the microphone. I can leave the application and browse the web and it will continue to record audio.

    Here is some actual data on battery life: http://imgur.com/a/kbu8k .

    The iPhone 4 gets 78% more battery life than the Nexus One. If you want better battery life from Android you pretty much need to get a jumbo-sized Streak, EVO or Droid 2, and that’s only for WiFi as they do much worse for 3G.

  • http://talkandroid.com Andrew Greenfield

    Noah: “with the exceptions of a few Apple specific apps, such as GPS and Music”
    Did you read? I did state that certain apps can truly multitask. Most, however, can not. And why do I need to research? I have an iPhone that I borrow when writing these things.

    “The iPhone 4 gets 78% more battery life than the Nexus One. If you want better battery life from Android you pretty much need to get a jumbo-sized Streak, EVO or Droid 2, and that’s only for WiFi as they do much worse for 3G.”

    You do realize that the first graph is 3G talk time right? Please, review your own information.

  • Greg

    Noah please stop. You give us iPhone users a bad name. There are problems with iOS and this (along with the notification system) are issues…Can you blame an Android site for picking them out? This was a well written article and a vast improvement over its former (which, quite frankly, was awful).

  • Brew

    I’m loving these articles. Keep ‘em coming.

  • noah

    @Andrew

    I didn’t say anything about either “a few Apple specific apps” OR the 3G talk time graph. Nothing. I was talking about a third party app, and the wifi and 3G web browsing graphs. Maybe I was not clear that the note-taking app was third party (but if you have reviewed the apps on your borrowed iPhone, you could have known that) but I pretty clearly said what battery tests I was talking about.

  • http://talkandroid.com Andrew Greenfield

    Noah: You didn’t say anything about web browsing. You said the iPhone had better battery life, but linked me to an article where the first graph showed that the iPhone was behind 4 Android phones for 3G voice calls. I’m supposed to magically know to know you were expecting me to ignore the first one and look at the second two?

    What’s your point about it being third party? Again, it CAN multitask if the developer chooses to do that, and only in very specific ways. A lot of apps can’t, even after they were upgraded to iOS 4.0. And the ones that most people care about (such as video buffering while doing something else) can’t multitask. THAT’S a problem. I’m not spitting fire, I’m simply responding to posts that I see on the internet. Why are you so annoyed by someone having a different opinion than yours?

  • http://geekblues.in/blog Kaustubh Naik

    iPhone battery life has to increase because its CPU doesnt have to take burden of running flash. whereas androids do support flash. but this may be one of the many reason why iPhone may have(never seen though) better battery life compared to androids. the difference is kinda negligible.

  • http://nobodylistenstotech.blogspot.com/ noah

    @Andrew

    I stand by what I said. What you are saying now is different than your editorial. Your piece seemed to say first that there was no multitasking, then that only Apple apps could multitask, then that developers had to deliberately develop the apps to multitask, more or less.

    As for the battery; web use probably doesn’t have too much to do with multitasking. Although background apps can effect your battery life even when you’re not using them, resulting in early dead batteries and confusion as to why. Battery life could also have to do with radios. A more efficient wifi and 3g radio in the iPhone could lead to other phones depredating faster. And again, sheer battery size is probably the #1 advantage of the iPhone, due mostly to it’s non-user removable battery (Apple saves room by eliminating the mechanisms for battery removal, and makes a bigger battery to fill that saved space). I mentioned the battery life factoids in response to “iOS multitasking is better for battery, that doesn’t mean that Android phones can’t come close”. Most Android phones don’t come close, including my Samsung Galaxy S and G1.

    “Why are you so annoyed by someone having a different opinion than yours?” OK, you can call me out for wasting my time on a webpage comments section, fair, but isn’t it just a little bit more extreme to devote an article or series of articles to your opinion? I’m not saying there’s something wrong with that, I have blogs of my own, but don’t criticize the commenters on your entries for being commenters on your entries.

    Anyway, I feel I should apologize. My tone isn’t kind. Blame it on boredom and hormones or something. If you’ll check out my comments on your iSheep post earlier today, you’ll see the better me. As several others have said, it wasn’t your best side either. My first reply was just out of surprise that I saw yet another “iSheep” in my news feed only a few hours after the last. So I’m sorry if I’m harsh. I think underneath there is something constructive you could take from what I’m saying. And if I see you writing for the big guys one day, I’ll be pretty proud. So good luck.

    I’ve put one of my old blogs in the website field, just in case anyone wants to check that I was, and still am in some degree, an Android fanboy.

    @Kaustubh

    That is probably right in some cases, but many Android phones and tablets still don’t support Flash (and rightfully so). I think I read either the Xoom or the Galaxy Tab finally got their promised Flash support update, but I haven’t seen tests with them. Anyway, I think it would only prove the case against Flash if they are the reason behind the battery Drain. However, Adobe’s Ideas app on the iPad is great, I use it everyday and it contains some of my best ideas. I hope they can adapt to the changing technology.

  • http://anything-android.blogspot.com/ Philip Balvanz

    I must admit I’m a little confused by the link regarding battery life being better on the iPhone than the Android phones. Three graphs with a bunch of phones listed really doesn’t persuade me to think it truly is better. How were the test taken? What browsers were used on Android? How was talk time tested, screen on or off? I’m sure the main reason the wifi browsing is better is because of Flash. Without Flash the iPhone really only loads partial pages reducing overall data usage. Screen size will also affect battery life. But who cares about that, because one size fits all right?

  • Howard

    @noah

    If it’s any consolation, the integrated battery probably does make a difference, maybe 15-20% extra battery life without the added weight of removable battery.

    I have a Nexus One, and it usually makes it through the day without problems (90% of the time), but when compared to the iPhone 4 I know my battery life is shorter by quite a bit (especially if I use some 3G talk time). I chalk it up to the iPhone 4′s smaller screen, the fact that my screen settings are brighter, my 2 twitter apps that are on short 10 min sync, but I do also give kudos to the overall iPhone4/iOS is more tightly coupled and tuned. Ironically, when my phone battery dies fast I find out some rogue process was using tons of CPU in the background, so yeah, multitasking does have it’s black sheep if an app misbehaves.

  • crazzzik

    First rule for OP: Never flame with commenter.
    Good post thou.