iOS: Not Running State

In my piece that I wrote yesterday, I discussed how my father’s peculiar tendency to go into the multitasking tray to kill all apps might be a bad habit from the days before protected memory operating systems, such as OS X.

Alas, one of the design decisions made by Apple to make all apps — regardless of their state — have no visually discernible difference seemed like a poor choice at the time of its inception. Apple’s attention to detail is typically unparalleled, however I propose that even the smallest change could have been made — perhaps should be made — to give some sort of visual distinction between running, backgrounded and killed apps.

How could this be done? It’s simple. Why not gently mute the colour of apps in the multitasking tray when they are not actively running? Different levels of opacity could be applied to give a visual distinction between the different states of apps. I think to the user who isn’t acutely aware of the inner workings of how iOS handles memory management, there are only two states that matter: running and not running apps. My ideal solution that I would like to see is simply that backgrounded or killed apps have a higher level of opacity applied to the app icon. This way, ones attention is focused onto the active and running app.

Perhaps Apple has already thought of an even better solution to this, however this is the first thing that came to mind today.