Understand multitasking and background activity on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

Multitasking allows apps to perform certain tasks in the background while you're using other apps or not using your device. Because of multitasking, you can switch quickly between apps and see updated content when you open or return to your apps.

Switch quickly between apps

When you're using your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you can switch quickly from one app to another. When you return to an app, you can pick up right where you left off. Multitasking doesn't slow down the performance of the foreground app or drain battery life too much.

Here's how you switch quickly between apps:

  1. Double-click the Home button to display recently used apps.
    iPhone screen showing recently used apps.
  2. Swipe left or right to find the app you want use.
  3. Tap the app to open it.

Allow apps to refresh in the background

Some apps will run for a short period of time before they're set to a suspended state. This means they're not actively in use, open, or taking up system resources. When you return to these apps, they'll open instantly.

Some apps can continue to run in the background. You can allow these apps to refresh themselves by turning on Background App Refresh. This settings lets apps check for new content and download updates, or retrieve updated content in the background when they receive push notifications.

To save battery, apps running in the background refresh at certain times, like when your device is connected to Wi-Fi, plugged into a power source, or being actively used. iOS learns patterns based on how you use your device and tries to predict when an app running in the background should refresh. It also learns when the device is typically inactive, like at night, to help keep apps from refreshing when you're not using your device. Apps can also schedule background refreshing based on your location.

To use this setting, tap Settings > General > Background App Refresh.

iPhone screen showing Background App Refresh option in Settings.

If you turn off Background App Refresh, some background activity might still occur.

Learn more

Find out what to do if an app unexpectedly quits, stops responding, or won't open.

Find out how to adjust settings on your device to maximize battery life.

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