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Android, Taskkillers and AppAlarm

IconThe number one e-mail I get goes something along the lines of, “AppAlarm didn’t go off, wtf duuuude!?!?” and my first response is always “Do you use a taskkiller? Have you killed AppAlarm?” Needless to say, the answer is almost always, yes and yes. Now this is not so much the user’s fault as it is the taskkiller’s. None of them do a very good job in explaining how they work. So I wanted to make a couple of things clear.

“Killing” an app in Android is kind of like uninstalling it, without actually deleting the files.

This means that all internal system alarms that the app may have scheduled get killed. AppAlarm needs these system alarm to work. So don’t kill AppAlarm if you plan on using it as… you know… an alarm.

Most of the tasks in your taskkiller aren’t actually running.

What your taskkiller probably isn’t telling you, is that most of the apps in its list are just being cached by the Android system in case they need to be used again. This doesn’t make your phone slower or use up your battery.

If you want to see an accurate representation of which apps are actually running in the background, goto Settings -> Applications -> Running Services

TIP: You can also create a shortcut on your home screen to Running Services. Just long-press on an empty spot of your home screen, tap Shortcuts, then tap Settings and pick Running Services from the list.

If you must use a taskkiller, add AppAlarm to its ignore list.

You should add all mission-critical apps to your taskkiller’s ignore list. Remember, not even Google apps can prevent themselves from being killed.

If you killed AppAlarm, or it ever Force Closed, run it once again.

Starting AppAlarm forces your alarms to be re-sheduled. This also happens when the phone first boots and whenever your time or time-zone is synced or changed. The AppAlarm service immediately stops itself once it schedules your next alarm, so there is no need to kill it. Remember, if you see AppAlarm in your taskkiller, it’s probably just being held in memory by the system.

Now I’m not saying all taskkillers are bad. They’re good to have around in case one of your apps starts mis-behaving. But it’s never a good idea to use the Kill All button. Also, try using a more informative taskkiller like System Panel, that actually differentiates between cached apps and running ones.

  1. DarkFlare
    March 28, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Interesting insight into how and what the kill all apps do. Thanks Geoff


  2. Dave
    March 28, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Hey Geoff, good stuff on the app killer. Since I rooted my Nexus I was thinking of doing away with Advanced Task Manager since Cyanogenmod is super fast. Keep up the good work.

  3. Mike
    January 1, 2011 at 8:51 am

    If I start AppAlarm then press home, AppAlarm stays in the task list, but if I start it and hit back, AppAlarm isn’t in the list and the alarm doesn’t work! Surly there is something in AndroidOS that helps alarm apps with this task kill issue… How does the built-in alarm app do it?

  4. Jeni
    March 3, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I cannot get the alarms to work. I followed the instuctions but its not running so how do I add it to the ignore list? If anyone can help me I would greatly appreciate it. I have a samsung fascinate…

  5. October 31, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    It’s not working on my htc mytouch 3g, I don’t know why. I made sure relaunch was set to off and it launches pandora just doesn’t play radio station I selected. I have no taskkill app other than 1tapclean and I don’t use it to kill apps just to look them up on market or flush old cache wasting space. I don’t get it because the scheduler app launches and it goes directly to an error screen about how the andriod os changed settings in the way they terminate apps, but I have that setting off why does it matter. Please add a contact developer button if your not comfortable with your email going out set up one specifically for your apps and u can always add additional in ur phone if u know how and get informed if u wanted to be informed of new emails, or set it to ignore new emails don’t notify me setting if u don’t want to be bothered, but at least u could troubleshoot if its something simple I’m missing here.

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