Balance Memory and Battery Life in iOS 6 App Development

By Neal Goldstein, Dave Wilson

As an app designer developing mobile apps for iOS 6, you have several balancing acts to keep in mind, including the inherent limitations of memory and battery power:

  • Limited memory: When compared to the original Macintosh’s standards, the computer power and amount of memory on the iPad may seem significant… but that is so yesterday. No ifs, ands, or buts; the computer power and amount of memory on the iPhone and iPad are limited. But this is an issue much more with older devices. The newer iPhones and iPads do have fairly large amounts of memory.

  • Limited battery power: Access to the Internet can mitigate the device’s power and memory limitations by storing data and (sometimes) offloading processing to a server, but those Internet operations eat up the battery faster.

    While it’s true that the iOS power-management system conserves power by shutting down any hardware features that aren’t currently being used, a developer must manage the trade-off between all those busy features and a shorter battery life. Any app that takes advantage of Internet access, core location, and the accelerometer is going to eat up the batteries.

iOS devices are particularly unforgiving when it comes to memory usage. If you run out of memory, in order to prevent corruption of other apps and memory, the system will simply shut down your app (unfortunately not to the tune of “Shut Down” by the Beach Boys).

It just goes to show that not all limitations can be exploited as “features.”