This article is not about Android OS actually, but Android is now the dominant smartphone platform just as Symbian used to be for 10 full years. As such, there is no better way to drive the point of this article home than to use Android as a comparison. This article is actually about multitasking on Symbian OS.
I know that Android fan boys do not like to hear it said, but what’s true is true and there’s nothing to be done about it. I have moved on from Symbian OS, but over at All About Symbian, Steve Litchfield is still rocking a Nokia 808 PureView. He has an article on 10 reasons why he is still on the Nokia 808 and Symbian in June 2013. It is interesting read and evokes nostalgia for those of us who were on the scene during much of Symbian’s reign. For those of you who weren’t, just enjoy or rant. Not that it matters what you do, actually. Here is the point though: What impressed on me most in that article was Steve’s account of Symbian’s multitasking prowess, especially when held up against what obtains on Android. Here is what he had to say:
Yes, Android pretends to have full multitasking, but why is it that, half the time I go back to apps which were running only an hour ago, they take a few seconds to reload? In contrast, the multitasking on Symbian is so complete that I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve left an app running by accident in the background, started a couple of weeks ago, discovering it in the multitasking carousel and tapping on it, to find it comes up instantly and is still in the exact same screen/state as when I last used it. iOS and Windows Phone try to mimic this sort of multitasking with a system of freezing apps and reawakening them later, but Symbian still rules here, and by some way.
Having used the Nokia 808 extensively myself, as well as numerous other Symbian flagships before it, I remember too well how apps stay running for weeks on Symbian. But even on Android’s most capable champions, including HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy Note II, apps shut down so often that it makes multitasking on Symbian look like make believe. Don’t forget that those Symbian flagships had measly processing power and RAM in comparison to the Android flagships that we are talking about today, and yet pulled off amazing multitasking performance.
Symbian is history for me and for many others, but what a rich heritage it has. I am still on the lookout for the smartphone platform that will replicate Symbian’s amazing multitasking abilities. For now, that platform is not Android, and it isn’t Windows Phone. Who will bell the cat? BlackBerry? Firefox? Sailfish? Ubuntu? I don’t know and I don’t care. Someone just needs to do it.