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Lion's iOS-like Automatic Termination not ideal for some users


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Lion's iOS-like Automatic Termination not ideal for some users

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Matt Neuberg over at Tidbits has noticed an interesting behavior in Lion: Occasionally, apps running without an active window on will disappear from the Command-Tab application switcher, and sometimes disappear from Activity Monitor completely. The culprit is a new "feature" in Lion called Automatic Termination, which will shut down and quit any (compatible) apps that aren't active and don't have any visible windows. Of course, most official Apple apps support Automatic Termination.

As Neuberg notes, this is obviously a hat tip to iOS and its background processes, in which you "close" an app simply by navigating away from it, leaving the system to shut it down when additional memory is needed. Neuberg suggests, however, that this implementation isn't so much a feature as a problem. Obviously, a desktop computer has many more resources to run processes than a mobile device, and there several scenarios in which a user might need to access an app that's been inactive for a while.

Granted, with Lion's Auto Save and Resume features, you could argue that there's no real difference to an app or a user between "inactive" and "closed," but Neuberg says that there is, and he doesn't like it. The feature is designed to keep the decision of which apps are open and closed away from the user, and while that might be a help on iOS, it's a hindrance on the Mac. I agree -- I'm perfectly capable of dealing with app management on my desktop, and it's lame of Apple to take that away from me.

Of course you can't opt out of Automatic Termination, short of simply avoiding compatible apps. There are certainly good reasons on both sides for having or not having this feature running, but in this case, it seems like bringing over this certain aspect of iOS app management might not be ideal for all Lion users.

Lion's iOS-like Automatic Termination not ideal for some users originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 09 Aug 2011 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.




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What about the Dock? Do they still appear in the Dock? If so, then this guy needs to quit his whining.

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The complaint would have more merit if application developers didn't have to actively opt in to making their applications able to be managed by the system like this. As it is, any applications for which this could pose a problem would presumably not have the ability to be automatically quit written into them.
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Basically, people are griping (or this guy in this case) about a feature that OS X has that Windows has pretty much had for its entire life? I mean, really? (Not that I'm rooting for it, but it is nice to close a window to an app sometimes and have it quit automatically).

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Windows has never automatically quit full user programs without user interaction prompting it to do so (unless that was a joke about programs crashing so often on Windows and it went over my head). This feature isn't what you're thinking of. His gripe is still meaningless though, since while you cannot opt out of it, those programs have to first opt in.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Discerptor View Post
Windows has never automatically quit full user programs without user interaction prompting it to do so (unless that was a joke about programs crashing so often on Windows and it went over my head). This feature isn't what you're thinking of. His gripe is still meaningless though, since while you cannot opt out of it, those programs have to first opt in.
From what I remember of using Windows, that's not really true. When you close an application/program window, the program is killed all together. And only specific apps which are running a process such as ripping a disk etc would verify that you want to quit the process and close the program.

The problem with how this has always been implemented in OS X (from the time I've been using it) is that this behavior is totally inconsistent, and remains so, in Lion. I kind of wish it was just one way or the other and stop all of the confusion. Close a window and close the app, or close a window only. Choose one Apple... please. And I'll agree with the author of the article. I don't want OS X to control that aspect of program management.

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No, Discerptor is totally right. We are talking about Apps AUTOMATICALLY quitting with the user telling them to. In other words you have your email program running but using other apps and the OS just quits the app without you pressing quit. Windows does not do that. Not that I have ever seen. Yes, when you quit an app in Windows it's gone, but the OS does not Force quit it without your input. So he is very correct.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug b View Post
From what I remember of using Windows, that's not really true. When you close an application/program window, the program is killed all together. And only specific apps which are running a process such as ripping a disk etc would verify that you want to quit the process and close the program.
Well in Windows, you have an extra application frame that contains the document windows inside it. That extra frame serves one purpose: to minimize or close the program. It's really ridiculous if you think about it to have an entire frame and an extra "bar" taking up screen space to serve that sole purpose. But anywho… what this new feature is referring to is that if an application is open but no documents are, then the OS will, if needed, quit that app to free up resources without any input from you, and without warning. If the computer isn't low on resources, then the app will stay open as "normal".

Quote:
The problem with how this has always been implemented in OS X (from the time I've been using it) is that this behavior is totally inconsistent, and remains so, in Lion. I kind of wish it was just one way or the other and stop all of the confusion. Close a window and close the app, or close a window only. Choose one Apple... please. And I'll agree with the author of the article. I don't want OS X to control that aspect of program management.
It used to bug me till I griped about it in a Mac newsgroup and someone pointed out that the app stays open to keep you from having to constantly re-open an app when closing a document. Although less an issue with today's systems, this helped drive life and negated the need to wait on the app to re-open. Also bear in mind my above example of a Windows program, like Word. That would be the alternative to how it works now in OS X. And really… that background frame just gets in the way and otherwise is far from elegant. Now… while there may be some exceptions, the way this generally works is like this: if the application is capable of having multiple windows/documents open, or otherwise is capable of doing something in the background, then closing the document does not quit the application. If the application is wholly stand-alone and does not open other documents (Activity Monitor, for example), then closing its window will quit the app entirely.
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Yeah, I actually get all of that.. even if what I said didn't actually point to my understanding I guess i should have just kept it simple by saying that I agree with the author in that I don't want my OS making decisions for me as such, in terms of memory management. The rest of what I said only applies to the concept of how inconsistent OS X might seem to be if you don't take what you explained into consideration.

And for the record, I do actually think that it makes sense to keep apps such as Pages open, when there are no active documents, while it also makes sense to have singular windowed apps totally quit when closing its main interface.

As for Lions new iOS like kill-switch feature, I'm guessing there might be a way to opt out for each app which is capable of utilizing it? Would be thoughtful if so.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug b View Post
Yeah, I actually get all of that.. even if what I said didn't actually point to my understanding I guess i should have just kept it simple by saying that I agree with the author in that I don't want my OS making decisions for me as such, in terms of memory management. The rest of what I said only applies to the concept of how inconsistent OS X might seem to be if you don't take what you explained into consideration.
My gut instinct is to really hate this also. But realistically… if it's only closing when no documents are open in it, I can't see a downside to it. It addresses the "problem" of apps not quitting when you close a document. At least eventually it will. I think it's a best-case alternative to handling this without having that extra frame the way Windows programs do. I would like to have the behavior as an option though, either per-app or system-wide.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach View Post
My gut instinct is to really hate this also. But realistically… if it's only closing when no documents are open in it, I can't see a downside to it. It addresses the "problem" of apps not quitting when you close a document. At least eventually it will. I think it's a best-case alternative to handling this without having that extra frame the way Windows programs do. I would like to have the behavior as an option though, either per-app or system-wide.
I don't really see it s an issue. It not just closing if no docs are open, but closing if no Window is open at all. Since Windows closes the App when you close the Window this might seem like similar behavior but it is not. Closing a Window on a Mac doesn't close the App so this "feature" simply closes the unused App without the users interaction.

Frankly, I didn't know iOS even did this.


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There appears to be some misunderstanding of this feature. Lion doesn't automatically "quit" apps the moment you navigate away from them or close all active windows ...

Read this section of the INCREDIBLE Ars Technica review on Lion that specifically talks about this (ignore the bit about application lights no longer being on the dock, they changed that for the final release):
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion: the Ars Technica review
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I am going to reiterate since everyone seems to be missing this... OS X only has the ability to do this to apps that have a flag up telling OS X it's OK with it doing so. That flag has to explicitly be written into the app by its developer. No productivity app developer worth its salt would dare put this in their products, so if there's a certain program you use that you think this would be terrible for, relax - chances are the app's developer realizes this too and simply won't add that feature in. The default for existing programs if developers don't rewrite them in any way is for OS X to not be able to automatically quit them. The review chas posted puts it quite well:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ars Technica
The reality

There's a common thread running through all of the application and document model features described above: they're all opt-in, and developers must add code to their applications to support them. Apple has some ability to hasten the transition to Lion-savvy applications through evangelism, positive reinforcement (the carrot), and the increasing popularity of the Mac App Store (the stick). But no matter what Apple does, the idyllic image of an iOS-like experience on your Mac will take a long time to materialize.
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