Turning smartphone apps off

Last year I got my first smartphone, an LG Tribute. (I wanted an iPhone, but I went with Virgin and they didn’t have any.) I’m not entirely clear on how to turn apps off. There are three icons at the bottom of the screen: a ‘go back’ icon, a ‘home’ icon, and one that shows your open windows. To presumably turn apps off, I touch the ‘windows’ icon and then touch ‘clear all’. This closes all of the windows. But I’ve noticed that after clearing al of the windows, Waze will alert me to something. (‘Police ahead’, or something like that.) So I’m guessing that Waze is still running in the background. If Waze is running in the background, what else is?

Battery life on this phone is poor. It might last a day and a half between charges. I’d like to ensure nothing is running when I’m not using the phone.

  1. Are apps running in the background even after I ‘clear all’?

  2. If (1) is ‘yes’, how do I turn them off?

Welcome to smartphones, Johnny. That’s just how it is with current battery tech, I’m afraid.

It’s usually worth looking around in each apps settings to see what you can do about push notifications - does your email need to sync every two minutes, or is once an hour enough etc. Turning down the screen brightness a couple of notches can help a bit too, you might want to turn location services off, make sure bluetooth is off by default.

But, a day and a half of battery is not too bad, most people get into the habit of charging overnight, every night.


I do not know about your smart phone, but in iPhone you can turn off background app refresh in Settings - General. Perhaps your phone has something similar.

I assume your phone is running Android, right? Go to Settings, then Apps. Click on an app that you want to stop. You’ll see a tab that says Force Stop. Click on it. It will show a message that says, “If you force stop an app, it may misbehave.” Don’t worry about that and click Yes. It’ll turn off that app until you turn it on again.

Of course I mean touch instead of click. Old habits die hard.

I’ll try that. Seems a bit of a cumbersome way to stop an app. You’d think they’d have a ‘Close [app]’ button on the app.

Some do (the good ones), some don’t.

If it is an android, you need to root it and install an app called Greenify. This will let you control what is running in the background much better. When Greenify hibernates an app, it stays hibernated until you start it. This works wonders for battery life if you are using a lot of apps that start themselves to check for updates, or other les innocent things, even when haven’t been using them. An unrooted android isn’t really under your control.

you have to understand the way android works is not the same as your windows PC. Android has all these apps using up all the RAM all the time, and this is actually beneficial if the apps aren’t awful. An app running in the background in android that isn’t syncing or pushing notifications or doing silly things isn’t costing you anything with respect to battery life.

go to your battery use screen in settings and see which apps are using up your battery life, and make appropriate adjustments to the settings of these apps to limit their activity as required. Task killer apps can just lead to problems, and might not even help out with additional battery life at all.

1.5 days is pretty standard to good for phone battery life, unfortunately.

I barely use my phone. If traffic is bad, and it’s not in one of the usual places, sometimes I’ll look at Waze. Every couple/few months I’ll compare my car’s speedometer with a speedometer app on the phone. (That was fun when we flew down to Anaheim, seeing 432 on my speedometer app.) Every so often I’ll speak into Google to get directions, and then use the Google GPS to guide me there. Other than that, I send one or two texts per week and make a couple of phone calls a month.

So what does ‘root it’ mean?

My non-smart phone would last several days. Of course by my last, you can see how much I use mobile phones.

I would also check:

  1. If notifications are on for the app
  2. If location services are on when you’re not using it
  3. If it can use cellular data when you’re not using it

Day and a half? That’s half a day longer than most people would expect. Smartphones have been accepted as a nightly charge object for the past 5 years.

If you don’t know, you probably shouldn’t. (It means replacing the operating system with a hacked version that allows the user more control. There are various limitations and dangers involved.)

Waze app should have a “power” icon that closes it. But still, smartphones are designed to be charged every night, and more often for heavy users (I always carry an external battery pack with me). Even with light use, it’s unrealistic to expect much more than 1.5 days of battery life.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen an app with a close button. Not even Facebook, Twitter, no big apps (mainly because they all need to be running for notifications)

Well if your phone screen is off 98% of the time, that makes a big difference. Your phone should be able to last days if you are only using it rarely. 1.5 days with screen off for 1.49 is suddenly bad. My S5 lasts from Friday morning to Sunday night, when I rarely use it, and it still has about 30% battery left. If I put it on ultra power saving mode, It estimates 10-15 days.

As for closing apps, on Samsung, if you hold down the button that brings up the open apps, there is a task manager button. When you tap that, there is a force stop all apps button. I don’t know if stock android (which is what you’re running) has a feature like this.

Rooting means to install a new custom OS on your phone. It is something that 's very advanced, even I haven’t done it (no need), it voids your warranty (a false threat, as you can press one button and your original stock OS is reinstalled and the warranty is reinstated), but its definitely not something you need to do.

As for saving your phone’s battery life, I don’t know if there’s any apps like ultra power saver on the app store, as its exclusive to Samsung S series phones, but turn off everything on your phone. Bluetooth, Wifi, GPS, and especially Mobile Data (huge battery drain if you have it on). You’ll still be about to receive and make phone calls and texts, and you can just turn on mobile data and GPS to check traffic, then turn them off. Your battery life should substantially increase.

No, rooting just gives you, well, root access (in the Windows world that’s roughly admin rights) to the entirety of the phone system. It allows installation of apps that go beyond the permissions allowed by the pre-installed OS, including ones that allow the installation of tweaked Android versions.

via the installation of a custom OS. Its all the same thing.

Its also equally useless and complicated in this situation.

Here’s how my Galaxy S4 handles it:

  • home screen
  • bring up “widgets”; on the S4, tap lower left corner of the phone’s face, off the screen; then tap “widgets”
  • find the icon for “active applications”; drag and drop it onto a vacant spot on one of your phones screens.

It’s a very handy icon, quick and easy. One tap and it instantly generates a screen showing all the apps that are running. It doesn’t address apps running in the background, but does show all the programs that never shut down after I’d finished using them. If you see anything you want turned off, one or two taps does the trick.

Android is fundamentally different to other computer systems you may be familiar with and you need to forget all you think you know about running apps.

In Android an app will run in short bursts then go dormant. Even the app which is currently on-screen is most likely not doing very much most of the time. A dormant app does not actually use up any battery power, it is not really running in the traditional sense, it just hangs about in memory ready to be restarted. The way Android works is to leave an app in memory, ready to go, just in case you want to use it again. Only if the device starts to run low on memory will Android start killing off those apps which have remained dormant longest. This makes sense as there can be a significant overhead in starting up an app from scratch. Google actually frowns on giving apps a shutdown option.

Some apps, and Waze may be one such though I don’t use it myself, will periodically get woken up either by a timer or in response to some other event to do some background task. If it is well designed it will do whatever it needs to quickly and go right back to sleep again. Just because it is present in the background does not mean it is gobbling up your battery the whole time. In addition many such apps will allow you to control what background tasks they do perform, look in their settings menu.

Don’t bother yourself trying to micromanage your device by killing off apps, it is unlikely to make much difference unless you have a poorly behaved or rogue app, in which case uninstall it and look for an alternative.

No. Rooting is neither useless nor complicated in this situation. It does, in fact, give administrator-level control of a device you bought and paid for. It’s worth doing just to be able to uninstall all the crapware that comes pre-installed on phones and tablets.

You no longer have to root your phone to install Greenify. It will automatically hibernate apps on any phone running Android 4.1 and higher.