Resources

Note: Things have changed a lot since I first wrote this. Unless you have an older device much of this might (hopefully) no longer apply.


Some notes about device "Resources."

First off, these wonderful hand-held devices are not the same thing as a laptop or desktop computer. More than any other way this shows up in their much more limited Operating System Resources. The OS resources I'm referring to here are not related to how many gigabytes of storage your device comes with but rather the much faster (and much smaller) storage the OS needs to do its magic. Adequate for many things, and absolutely amazing given their tiny size, their limited resources are under more and more strain. This is especially true when you add in multi-tasking which allows multiple apps run silently in the background, continually serving you, continually at your beck and call. It all takes resources.

Graphical apps like games and movies, and yes, just plain old picture viewers and web browsers are very resource-hungry. This is especially true when you manipulate the graphical content. I love the ability of graphical apps to zoom in and reveal minute details. However, the pinching gestures gobble resources like nothing else I know. Other image manipulation gestures like panning and rotating also take significant resources. You can see it any time the interface hesitates or jerks when responding. If you have too many apps running in the background you can actually bottom out the resources during a gesture and when that happens something has to give. A worst-case scenario is that the OS will shut down an app to prevent to prevent an OS crash (although most people might call this a crash it is not really a problem with the app but rather the OS stepping in to manage the deviceís dwindling resources.) More than once I've debated limiting or removing the WildFlower appís ability to zoom in on an image but feel that it is such a useful feature that I personally can not live without it. Used judiciously it is seldom a problem but overused it can cause the OS to shut down the app. Itís why apps with this feature are prone to spontaneous shut-down (think of how many times you've seen your web browser close for no reason.)

I've noticed my own devices can get into a snit where they behave as if they are in an almost constant state of "Resource Starvation." In this case every app is affected. The only way I know of to get out of this situation is to do a cold reboot (this is sometimes called "restarting" in the Apple world and it is done with the red "power off" slider.) Similarly, people have reported that they've downloaded the app and it won't run. This is another indication that their device may be caught in some sort of resource starvation, in this case since before they even began to download the app. Their device has been put to sleep too many times and not restarted since who knows when. I would point out I don't see this behavior on devices that have few apps installed on them. It becomes a problem when you have a lot of apps installed, especially those that run in the background for you. Finally, every rev of the OS and hardware provides better resources. Hopefully someday soon this will all be a non-issue.



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