A Look at Memory Status – Memory Watcher for your iPhone
I am sure we have all experienced slow downs and crashes while using the iPhone or iPod Touch. It could have happened while surfing the web with Mobile Safari or playing that sweet looking but resource hogging game. Regardless of where and when it happens, there is no doubt users feel the frustration with every crash. Enter Memory Status, a fairly simple memory management utility that displays where the iPhone’s resources are being allocated as well as allow users to free up more virtual memory.
Upon loading the app, you are greeted by a pie chart that displays the status of your device’s virtual memory. They are divided into four areas: Wired, Active, Inactive and Free. Tapping on the information icon will reveal what each means. Let’s have a look at how Memory Status describes each one.
- Wired: Memory mainly used by the OS to manage running applications.
- Active: Memory which is actively in use. It has currently been allocated to running processes.
- Inactive: Memory not currently used but will remain in RAM just in case it’s needed again. If called upon by a process, it will quickly be reactivated.
- Free: Memory that is currently not in use. As you use applications, memory is used up and transitions to the Inactive. Applications will take from the Inactive if it needs more memory. If the sum of Free and Inactive is very low, the memory might be in short.
Memory Status is also divided by three tabs or sections. The first is Memory, which we just looked at. The other two are Processes and Cleaning. Processes basically displays a list of user processes that are currently running. ‘Cleaning’ though is where all the sweet action takes place as it allows users to free up memory on your iPhone/Touch. As you can see from the screenshot above, there are two levels of ‘cleaning’. Level 1 will terminate any active processes for Safari. Level 2 will end Safari, Mail and iPod processes, thus freeing up for even more memory.
To test Memory Status out, I ran my iPhone to the ground by opening all applications I could think of, including Safari, Mail and iPod (as well as couple of games). I went back into the app and took a screen shot of how resources were allocated. I then went into the Cleaning section and selected the Level 2 option, which took about 15 seconds to perform. Another screenshot was taken after Level 2 was complete. Here they are below for a small comparison (left- pre cleaning, right- post level 2 cleaning) :
As you can see from the shots, Active memory dropped from 26.78% to 6.71% and Free memory shot up from 3.94% to 41.29%. I did feel my iPhone slightly more snappy and responsive after freeing up memory, notably when browsing through apps on springboard.
Memory Status is certainly a good start to an app everyone can make use of. One thing that would be nice to have is the ability to show how much memory is being allocated to each running process. Currently, it only shows what is running, but does not provide any more info.
The biggest thing going for Memory Status though is the ability to quickly terminate Safari, Mail and iPhone all in once spot and free up valuable memory. Sure you can still achieve this by pressing and holding the home button for 6-8 seconds within each app to force quit them. But this manual method will require you repeat the process several times, not to mention that it will get tiresome quickly.
I for one will be keeping Memory Status on my iPhone. To be able see how much virtual memory is available at anytime and have the ability to free up memory in one location will prove to be invaluable. Now I can play those resouce hogging games like SimCity without worrying about crashes due to low system resources. How cool is that?
Memory Status is available for $1.99