November 24, 2014

Task Managers: The Nearly Ultimate Comparison Review

task_managers_versus

Disclaimer: As you may have wondered this review has been titled “The Nearly Ultimate Comparison Review”, this being due to the fact that it will only encompass free Task Manager apps as that’s all that is available to Canadians. Then again, are you really that willing to pay for a task manager just yet? That may be so but this is more of an introduction to Task Managers than anything. (Also, yes the times on the screen-shots are correct, unfortunately.)  (Applications tested on HTC Dream)

With that said I believe its about time someone did a review on a nearly-complete category of applications.  This review will look at not only the top task manager applications, but also why the average Android user needs one. The review will not nitpick into the little details but more give you an even comparison among the genre so that you can make a quick decision as to which one you will be downloading on your next visit to the Market… or maybe to inform you that; “Hey! You picked the bad one!”.

Why? Because I said so…

If you’re a developer for Android like myself then you already know all about the Activity life-cycle. Just to tease those who don’t know let’s discuss “Application Fundamentals 101″ (http://developer.android.com/intl/fr/guide/topics/fundamentals.html). An activity is a single visual screen of an application. This Activity has different states that it can take on. The four main states being “visible”, “paused(partially visible)”, “stopped(not visible, still running)”, and “destroyed(not visible, not running)”. When you click the home key on your phone and exit to the home screen, that Activity is sent to the background unless otherwise stated by the developer. Most often the developer has not stated otherwise. That application could still be using resources or maybe not. You won’t know until the phone becomes considerably slow. At this point in my lecture I have a million people yelling at their computer/device because they heard that Android is smart enough to kill processes when memory gets too low. Well even though that is true, if I’m truly finished with an application I want to kill it and not have it consume my battery and memory. So if you also are in favour of a top performing device at all times, follow me into the woods (Android Market).

***

Tip: Pressing Back instead of Home will automatically kill an application as well (most of the time).

***

The following task mangers will be rated on their ease of use, visual design, speed, features, Performance, and Widget.

Categories that sound fancy, and what they probably mean:
Ease of Use = The ability to know what I am supposed to do easily.
Visual Design = The sexiness, flair, and organization of the app.
Speed = The ability to get in and do what I need to do as quickly as possible.
Features = Extra features and information included.
Performance = The app’s ability to complete the task at hand quickly, efficiently, and without killing important processes.
Widget = The general verdict on the widget.

__________________________________

Task Manager by Wing Tseng

Task Manager by Wing Tseng

The system information bar at the top appears to be too cluttered and confusing for any average user to understand. Also, the action of me pressing the “menu” button to access the kill functions is a little bit of a hassle, but I’m sure this was intended for organization and cleanliness. I would suggest this app for those that are not in a rush to just kill background running apps because it does include lots of extra features.
Ease of Use: 3/5
Visual Design: 2/5
Speed: 2/5
Features: 4/5
Performance: 3/5
Widget: Too many “Toast” Messages that follow kill all function.

________________________

TasKiller Free by Thibaut Nicolas

TasKiller

Visually this task manager does not always present itself without object overlaps as can be seen above, but it does kill apps very quickly and without error. The inclusion of 2 widgets is extremely thoughtful for those who just want one to kill all apps and take up only one tile, and another to include system info and a kill all feature taking up more tiles.

Ease of Use: 5/5
Visual Design: 2/5
Speed: 4/5
Features: 2/5
Performance: 5/5
Widget: Includes 2 widgets. Sleek and informative.

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EStrongs Task Manager

EStrongs

My only slight with EStrongs is the absence of a kill all feature, running apps must be selected and then killed. The visual design to this one with tabs and a clean interface is what saves it and gives it a thumbs up in my books.

Ease of Use: 4/5
Visual Design: 5/5
Speed: 5/5
Features: 4/5
Performance: 5/5
Widget: N/A

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Advanced Task Killer Free by ReChild

Advanced ReChild

ReChild makes a really easy to use and quick interface but it just doesn’t fly with it’s visual interface. The inclusion of a future widget may put it to the top.

Ease of Use: 5/5
Visual Design: 3/5
Speed: 4/5
Features: 2/5
Performance: 5/5
Widget: N/A

________________________

Task Manager by Houmiak

Houmiak

The listing of the apps makes killing them tricky as each item is annoyingly small making it hard to click. The ordering of apps with memory information is a cool feature. The only thing that puts this task manager to the bottom is listing of “android.process.acore”, this should not be killed in any task manager as it includes your contacts and home screen.

Ease of Use: 1/5
Visual Design: 2/5
Speed: 1/5
Features: 3/5
Performance: 2/5
Widget: N/A

________________________

TaskPanel by Sychee

TaskPanel

The visual and bright design is a nice change from other task managers and the inclusion of themes is a nice feature. The speed of killing all functions is slowed down considerably by the killing of unnecessary processes such as what appears to be the same “android.process.acore”.

Ease of Use: 4/5
Visual Design: 4/5
Speed: 3/5
Features: 3/5
Performance: 1/5
Widget: Informative, but nearly impossible to click the speck-like kill function.

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Free Advanced Task Manager by Arron La

Arron La

The organization with tabs is once again a nice and clean looking layout. The features included make this an excellent all in one for any user from beginners to advanced. Although it does seem to have  perfects in all the ratings the use of the same icon for the kill all widget is a little confusing at times.

Ease of Use: 5/5
Visual Design: 4/5
Speed: 5/5
Features: 5/5
Performance: 5/5
Widget: Same icon as app but not a huge issue, could use some system info to beef it up.

________________________

The Verdict:

After feeling like I was on a really twisted version of The Bachelor and giving all the ladies a full inspection and fair test, I have found that a lot of them have their own different strengths. Although for me, at the end of the day it is Free Advanced Task Manager by Arron La that truly wins my heart and will forever remain in it’s special spot on my Home Screen.

Do you have any personal favourites that you would like to share? Have any ideas for the Developers of these apps? Do you think doing a comparative review of this type is helpful? Let us know in the comments section below!

Love

  • http://upixstudio.com eYe

    Very good review. You forgot to mention that some task managers have a feature to automaticaly kill apps after specified period of time (Aaron’s) and also have exclude lists for “Kill All” function.
    With that said, in my opinion Aaron’s task managers is the best one to use and, while you’re at it, might as well get the “Donate” version and support the developer. Just my 2 cents.

  • Neurothustra

    I'm actually a fan of the task killer found in the Astro file browser. The only thing about it that I don't like (or maybe I don't understand it) is that it lists the memory being used as *.Mb, whereas every other task manager lists the memory size in Kb. Don't really get that.

  • http://twitter.com/ivanpacheco @ivanpacheco

    Great review (and thanks for explaining the Activity life-cycle in terms I think anyone can understand). I'm also using FATM and haven't had any issues at all. Another benefit (at least for me) is the Uninstall Application tab. While not necessary it is a nice shortcut compared to the standard uninstall process (select market, click on my downloads, select app, click on uninstall).

    The other tabs (Processes & System) might be overkill for the average user but again, you can always just ignore them.

  • Dignan17

    Huzzah! I'm happy to see my favorite was also AndroidGuys' favorite. I use that app every day just to keep things running smoothly. That app, combined with apps2sd on my rooted phone are the only things that make my G1 usable. Even then I get tons of slowdowns. Can't wait for that Nexus One!

  • Justa Notherguy

    Single-use tools are fine for hardware – like a construction project or working on your car.
    .
    But, when it comes to electronics, I prefer apps combining several useful – and, typically, closely related – tools in one, handy package. That's why I use the task manager features in 'Toggle Settings', by cooolmagic.:
    .
    http://www.androlib.com/android.application.com-c

  • http://twitter.com/MatthewPatience @MatthewPatience

    @eYe – Most definitely, I really should have included a note about donations, being a dev myself! lol, thanks for the note.

  • John

    Good ones also are ProcessManager from CurveFish and eRay from DoMobile.
    A review on these please.

  • cyruscode

    Very good review and usefull indeed, i was using TaskPanel by Sychee for a while.. and didn't searched for other ones.. but being able to see pros and cons clearly for each ones made it quick and easy to see the best one for me. Thank you and great job!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/CanyonR CanyonR

    Am I the only one who thinks these should be called process or application managers. I saw the title about a task manager comparison and thought it would be about Astrid, gTasks, and Remember the Milk.

  • Rich

    Keep doin comparative reviews! Maybe a Twitter Client Shootout ?

  • Dianne

    Please stop the task manager insanity!

    These apps tend to break other apps (look at discussions on the android-developers forum about this) because they are using an API that was not intended to do what these are using it for. (In particular: it kills everything about the app: notifications, scheduled alarms to for example poll for new e-mail, etc.)

    Prior to Android 2.0 there could be some argument to use these to stop running services — though you could use Force stop in the manage apps UI, there is little help for you to know what to stop. But as of 2.0, the Running Services app is a much better way to take care of too many apps trying to run, and is much less likely to result in broken apps (though you can still do things like stop background sync from running with it).

    People don't seem to understand that processes running in the background is not an issue. The main issue is too many apps trying to run services at the same time so the system has to try to keep their processes running… these task managers do cause those services to stop, in a very brute force way, but unavoidably cause a lot of collateral damage in the process. If you are running a pre-2.0 platform, then a task manager may be the only way to deal with this (though you really need to think about what you are doing and you don't get to report bugs about applications if you are killing them like this!). But as of 2.0, they should simply not be used.

    • Henry

      You do realize that you can set these to ignore apps, right? The problem is that many apps auto-restart, especially ones that do not need to run all the time! I have personally set up Advanced Task Killer on my phone (I paid for it because I use it all the time), and the apps I do not wish to kill (such as my clock widget, other widgets on my home screen, etc..), as well as my Lookout Mobile Security, and my SetCPU. All I did was longpress it on my ATK screen and press ignore! Poof, apps that need to continue to run continue to run!

      The problem is that many times I look at the process only to see apps I didn’t even open in the first place still running (and no I do NOT have widgets on my home screen for those apps). That is why I downloaded and installed ATK.

  • spencer

    I prefer to use appswipe

  • Ibz

    Why haven't you included Astro in this list for comparison? i think it's one of the best if not THE best out there

  • Alicia I.

    For the Task Manager by Wing Tseng, you said, "Also, the action of me pressing the “menu” button to access the kill functions is a little bit of a hassle, but I’m sure this was intended for organization and cleanliness." This is not true. You can change in the settings to end an app by either a click or a long-press.

  • Felicia

    I love TaskPanel the most. The latest version has fixed "android.process.core" and optimize the performance.

    Whats more, it comes with Auto-kill feature that "automatically" kill tasks when the phone enters SLEEP mode. The process is fully automatic with no human intervention. The widget also tells about the phone health status and it is fully customizable with themes, Instant access, auto startup etc.

    • http://twitter.com/MatthewPatience @MatthewPatience

      Thanks for the update!

  • Boyer

    ES Task Manager have a kill-all button now, and with a widget.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/niniii0 niniii0

    I love TaskPanel the most. The latest version has fixed "android.process.core" and optimize the performance.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/niniii0 niniii0

    With that said, in my opinion Aaron's task managers is the best one to use and, while you're at it, might as well get the "Donate" version and support the developer. Just my 2 cents.

  • Beverly913

    OK I just got my android HTC Desire today and I have been playing with it all day. I downloaded a “task manager” by Aado and it had good reviews on the app market but I found that it interfered with some of my apps and how they ran. Now, being a newbie, what IS a task manager. I downloaded it because I thought it would save battery life.

  • Henry

    Personally I use Advanced Task Killer. Its interface isn’t pretty but it is simple and easy to use.

    I like it because I set up a widget on my home screen that allows me to just click the widget and it displays “X Apps killed, XM memory available”, instead of opening the task killer program to kill the apps.

    • Henry

      and yes it also has auto-kill, which I usually set to crazy.

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