Ahh, my first off topic post and a rant as well…
Last night I got a text from o2 UK. You have used 80% of your data allowance for the month. At this point I should have remembered this happening before but I ignored it… What the hell I though I only have a day or two to go before my allowance is reset.
This morning I woke up to find no battery left on my phone and another text from o2 stating I had now used my quota so I set out to find out why.
The first thing I noticed was the 3G symbol on my phone was blue i.e. it was transmitting and receiving data. Now in my opinion the problem with Apple’s IOS 4 is that multi tasking is not really multi tasking, it is the worst of both worlds. It is supposed to freeze an app to allow it to be started quickly and in the same state as when you left it. No this is great for say a game where you get a text half way through and you don’t have to go back but there are drawbacks. One of these drawback is applications that use audio are allowed to truly multi task as you would expect. For instance Spotify streams from the internet as does internet radio apps and this is great, you can listen to music on the net while using your iphone. However there is a problem….
What about those media rich apps like the BBC or Sky News apps? These also use audio and video, the also use a lot of data. Lets also imagine you were an app designer, you wanted people to be able to stream live TV but considered it a benefit for the app to continue buffering audio and video while you were using other apps to ensure the user did not have to wait for it to buffer if you say got a text.
And in there lies the problem.. It appears that yesterday I started the Sky News app at home and went to their live news stream. Nothing interesting to see here I thought and closed it. However in the background the app continues to buffer data. Not so much of a problem as I have unlimited wifi, but as soon as I leave the house it switches to 3G and continues to buffer. 300mb and a battery later I am fresh out of data allowance for the month.
So the moral of said tale.
Apple’s criteria for what can legitimately multi task in my opinion can cause problems if a poor developer choses to use it.
Audio and video based apps which could fall under the criteria for true multi tasking may still well be downloading reams of data behind your back.
What can you do about it?
The draconian approach would be to fully close all applications when you finish but this is a hassle. Close the app >> Double click on the home button >> press and hold the app of choice >> hit the close icon
My approach was simple.. Delete the app in question
The alternative approach.. Be wary of high data apps and ensure they close fully when you are finished with them.
I did discover a very good app to monitor your usage. It runs in the background checking your usage periodically at least you know when one of the apps is on the rampage. You will find it here.