One of the criticisms about Apple devices is their ridiculous amount of RAM, which forces the operating system to often close background apps in order to run others. For people who multitask heavily, it is a drag. And it just got a lot worse with iOS 13.2.
The iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have only 4GB of RAM while the latest iPad Pro also has 4GB of RAM except the top-of-the-line 1TB model, which has 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM. These are clearly insufficient amount if you are looking to do some heavy lifting — especially on the iPad Pro, which is touted as a laptop replacement by Apple.
Four gigabytes is nothing compared to Android’s devices, but iOS can churn along just fine because it is aggressive at managing resources, killing apps in the background that then need to reload when the users get back to them. Perhaps too aggressive, in fact. Here is one example of how this works according to artist, designer and developer Nick Heer:
“I'm used to the camera purging all open apps from memory on my iPhone X, but iOS 13.2 goes above and beyond in killing background tasks. Earlier today, I was switching between a thread in Messages and a recipe in Safari and each app entirely refreshed every time I foregrounded it. This happens all the time throughout the system in iOS 13: Safari can't keep even a single tab open in the background, every app boots from scratch, and using iOS feels like it has regressed to the pre-multitasking days.”
As a full-time first generation iPad Pro user myself — it’s my only work machine — I’ve been noticing the same problems. Finding apps closing because of going to other apps was bad and annoying with previous iOS versions but it’s way worse now. I thought it was only me but, according to MacRumors’ forum users, it’s a generalized problem.
And while Heer and I use slightly older hardware, it is not about that. MacRumors forum members claim it’s happening with the most current hardware. Rogifan claims that this is happening with really simple tasks now: “I was watching a video in YouTube on my iPhone 11 Pro. I pause the video to respond to a text message. I was in iMessage for less than one minute. When I returned to YouTube it reloaded the app and I lost the video I was watching. I noticed this a lot on my iPad Pro too. Apps and Safari tabs reloading a lot more frequently than they did in iOS 12. Very annoying.”
There’s a lot more reports of this in the forums and, indeed, it is extremely annoying. This is something I don’t experience on my Android phone — which is supposed to have worse RAM management than iOS but has double the RAM of the latest iPhone.
So this is a problem that could be easily solved just like you solve performance problems in desktop machines: if you need to run a lot of apps, just put more RAM in that box. Maybe that’s what the “Pro” in iPhone 11 Pro and iPad Pro should mean. Put 8GB in these machines and stop it already with the application killing and reloading. And allow for better background processing since you are at it.
It’s 2019 and it’s embarrassing that I need to leave an app rendering a video in the foreground — locking up my entire “Pro” tablet in the process. At the very least, Apple will likely issue a software update to try to mitigate this issue.