It has been a while since Nokia has got the message that smartphones need ample RAM. If we look at just a few of the recently released phones, it becomes clear all of them have a decent amount of RAM, be it the E90, N82, N95 8GB even the slightly lower end phones like the N81 and E51 have been endowed with enough RAM.
What used to happen was that people new to S60 and its multitasking abilities used to hit the red key thinking they were closing the application and it would merely go to the background where it would stay in the memory and as the number of such applications increased, they would clog up the phone. To overcome this situation newer devices shipping with OS 9 killed the application when the red key was hit, this resulted in better performance and people were happy.
However let us look at today. Since phones have enough RAM Nokia makes certain applications live on inspite of the red key kill, to speed things up for us. The contacts, the menu and a few other applications stay on, hidden. So much so that in the music phones we cannot even kill the Music Player application if we wanted to, red key or no red key.
My point being that current smartphones, the mighty Nseries and Eseries, the multimedia computers as Nokia would call them are pretty efficient at managing multiple open applications. I tested the N82 and you would be surprised to know that I could run each and every application on the phone without even a single one crashing! There is no way in the world anyone is going to use a phone in that manner.
I know that we can simple keep something running and minimise it by hitting the menu key twice but there’s another another reason why I say this. Many a time, the red key is hit accidently; while in some applications the data is saved, in the others its all gone. E.g. Messaging will save the draft, but if I have the Web Browser open and I make a mistake, everything is gone, I might have been writing an email and its gone, poof! I don’t know if its ever happened with you but it happens to me, specially when I’m using a phone I’m not comfortable with yet.
Read on for my proposal.
Now, here’s my proposal.
= Make this option customisable – make two modes ‘Dummy’ and ‘Expert’.
= By default, in the Dummy mode, settings remain as they are – red key kills.
= In the Expert mode, let me choose what to do. Whether the red key will kill or not.
= Let me select specific applications that do not get closed by the red key.
= Let me choose the number of applications I want to keep running.
So whats the harm of letting us leave a few applications running in the background. Battery impact for less experienced users? Yes, thats an issue so may be we could cap the number of applications that can remain open. Say 5, and once a new one is opened after 5 and minimised, the first one to be sent to the background saves any current data and closes to make room for the newest entrant. (This is only valid in the dummy mode – experts are expected to know the impact). May be with time these ‘Dummy’ and ‘Expert’ modes could be developed to include a lot of other things such as applications shown, functionality and so on).
What I basically want is being able to make exceptions to the red key kills rule. The above is just a random though I had, what I suggested is not foolproof and there must be loopholes but this is how S60 should be, customisable. I am sure some of you have similar thoughts and some disagree, but lets see if we can work something out for the S60 bosses to think about.