I’m starting to realize that I don’t want some of the apps on my iPhone to save the state they’re in when I leave them. In fact, I wish I could specifically exclude some apps from the multitasking feature altogether.
Facebook is an example of one I wish would completely quit when I close the app. I want it to start fresh each time I open it (which is rare these days), not show me the picture from someone’s wall I was looking at five days ago when I last used the app. Another example is two apps I use on a daily basis: Foursquare and Gowalla. Now that they’ve turned on the fast app switching “feature” in iOS4, when I return to the app, say, when I’ve arrived at a new place where I want to check-in, I’m looking at the same page from the last time I was using the app. This usually means the app is open to the last venue where I checked-in. When that happens, I have to back out of the screen to get back to a list of nearby places, and sometimes I have to manually refresh the list. I would prefer it if I could tell the app to always open to the places screen and refresh the list.
I know that as life problems go, these are small ones, but it bugs me that a company that tries to focus on making things as simple as possible for the end-user has now made things more difficult. Apple says we don’t need to manage the apps in the multitasking tray, that iOS4 is smart enough to do it for us, but that just isn’t the case.
Here’s what I mean: Before iOS4 fast app switching, when you quit an app it quit completely. You would press the home button and that was it. Now, to fully quit an app you have to click the home button once to get back to the springboard, then double-click the home button to reveal the multitasking tray of apps that are in a saved state, then press and hold one of those apps until they all go into jiggle mode, then press the red button in the top left corner of any app you want to completely kill (see picture above). Big difference.
It would be nice if in the settings for each app, we could toggle on or off the “multitasking” APIs that app is using. That way I could tell Foursquare and Gowalla to start fresh each time I launch the app, whether I’ve deleted it from the multitasking tray or not, and I could tell Facebook to always quit when I leave the app and never even appear in the multitasking tray. Even better would be the ability to set a timeout feature where an app saves its state for a defined time period, but quits completely if you don’t return to it within that time. But that would involve giving the end user more control over their iOS4 device than Apple is comfortable with.