whole - kill android application programmatically




Is quitting an application frowned upon? (20)

Answer: (Romain Guy): The user doesn't, the system handles this automatically. That's what the activity lifecycle (especially onPause/onStop/onDestroy) is for. No matter what you do, do not put a "quit" or "exit" application button. It is useless with Android's application model. This is also contrary to how core applications work.

1: Totally exiting an application may be generally unmandatory, but it is not useless. What if windows had no exit option? System would be doggy slow as memory was full and the OS had to guess at which programs you were done with. I don't care what Romain Guy or even Larry Page and Sergey Brin say - these are unquestionable facts: Systems run slower when they have to kill tasks to get their memory before a new app can be launched. You just can't tell me that it doesn't take time to kill an app! Even the light from distant stars take time... There is some use in allowing the user to fully close apps.

2: Contrary to how core applications work? What's that supposed to mean? When I'm done running an app for now, it is no longer doing any work...It's just waiting to be killed by the OS when its memory is needed.

In summary, there is a distinct difference between minimizing and exiting, and neither pinch hits well for the other. Do we leave a screwdriver in every screw? Or a key in every door? Do we leave all of our appliances on high until the breaker blows and we need to turn on another appliance? Do we leave the dish washer full of dishes, and only take out enough each time to make room for some new dirty ones? Do we leave all the cars running in the driveway until -- oh never mind.

If the user wants to minimize an app, then the best thing is to minimize it. If a user wants to exit an app, then by all means it is best to exit.

Is it frowned on? That's Android's view - they frown on it. And many many independent rookie Android developers frown on it.

But when it comes right down to it, there is good coding and bad coding. There is good program flow models and there are bad program flow models.

Leaving programs in memory when the user knows they are done with them simply is not good program flow. It serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever, and it slows things down when launching new apps or when running apps allocate more memory.

It is sort of like your car: There are times when you leave it running, like stopping at a stop light, or perhaps the fast food drive through, or stopping at the ATM. But there are other situations where you do want to shut it off - like when you get to work, or the grocery store or even home.

Similarly, if you're playing a game and the phone rings, yes. Pause the game and keep it running. But if the user is done with the game for a while, then by all means let them exit.

The exit button on some applications should be more out in front than others. Games, for example, or programs where the user is likely to want to fully exit, should have an obvious exit. Other programs, like, perhaps, email programs, where exiting is an unlikely desire (so that it can keep checking for email) -- these programs should not waste prime control input screen space with an exit option, but for good program flow, it should have an exit option. What if someone decides they don't want their mail program trying to check email when they are in poor coverage area, or maybe in a Skype call or whatever? Let them exit the email program if they want!

Suspending and exiting are two vital tasks and neither fulfills the role of the other.

Moving on in my attempt to learn Android, I just read the following:

Question: Does the user have a choice to kill the application unless we put a menu option in to kill it? If no such option exists, how does the user terminate the application?

Answer: (Romain Guy): The user doesn't, the system handles this automatically. That's what the activity lifecycle (especially onPause/onStop/onDestroy) is for. No matter what you do, do not put a "quit" or "exit" application button. It is useless with Android's application model. This is also contrary to how core applications work.

Hehe, for every step I take in the Android world I run into some sort of problem =(

Apparently, you cannot quit an application in Android (but the Android system can very well totally destroy your app whenever it feels like it). What's up with that? I am starting to think that it's impossible to write an app that functions as a "normal app" - that the user can quit the app when he/she decides to do so. That is not something that should be relied upon the OS to do.

The application I am trying to create is not an application for the Android Market. It is not an application for "wide use" by the general public, it is a business app that is going to be used in a very narrow business field.

I was actually really looking forward to developing for the Android platform, since it addresses a lot of issues that exist in Windows Mobile and .NET. However, the last week has been somewhat of a turnoff for me... I hope I don't have to abandon Android, but it doesn't look very good right now =(

Is there a way for me to really quit the application?


First of all, never never never use System.exit(0). It is like making a person sleep punching him on the head!

Second: I'm facing this problem. Before sharing my solution a I want to share my thoughts.

I think that an "Exit Button" is stupid. Really really really stupid. And I think that users (consumer) that ask for an exit button for your application is stupid too. They don't understand how the OS is working and how is managing resources (and it does a great job).

I think that if you write a good piece of code that do the right things (updates, saves, and pushes) at the right moment and conditions and using the correct things (Service and Receiver) it will work pretty well and no one will complain.

But to do that you have to study and learn how things works on Android. Anyway, this is my solution to provide to users an "Exit Button".

I created an Options Menu always visible in each activity (I've a super activity that do that).

When the user clicks on that button this is what happens:

Intent intent = new Intent(this, DashBoardActivity.class);
intent.addFlags(Intent.FLAG_ACTIVITY_CLEAR_TOP);
intent.addFlags(Intent.FLAG_ACTIVITY_NEW_TASK);

SharedPreferences settings = getSharedPreferences(getString(PREF_ID), Context.MODE_PRIVATE);
SharedPreferences.Editor editor = settings.edit();
editor.putBoolean(FORCE_EXIT_APPLICATION, true);

  // Commit the edits!
editor.commit();
startActivity(intent);
finish();

So I'm saving in SharedPreferences that I want to kill my app, and I start an Intent. Please look at those flags; those will clear all my backstack calling my DashBoard Activity that is my "home" activity.

So in my Dashboard Activity I run this method in the onResume:

private void checkIfForceKill() {

    // CHECK IF I NEED TO KILL THE APP

    // Restore preferences
    SharedPreferences settings = getSharedPreferences(
            getString(MXMSettingHolder.PREF_ID), Context.MODE_PRIVATE);
    boolean forceKill = settings.getBoolean(
            MusicSinglePaneActivity.FORCE_EXIT_APPLICATION, false);

    if (forceKill) {

        //CLEAR THE FORCE_EXIT SETTINGS
        SharedPreferences.Editor editor = settings.edit();
        editor.putBoolean(FORCE_EXIT_APPLICATION, false);

        // Commit the edits!
        editor.commit();

        //HERE STOP ALL YOUR SERVICES
        finish();
    }
}

And it will work pretty well.

The only thing that I don't understand why it's happening is that when I do the last finish (and I've checked: it's following all the correct flow of onPause → onStop → onDestroy) the application is still on the recent activity (but it's blank).

It seems like the latest intent (that has started the DashboardActivity) is still in the system.

I've to dig more in order to also remove it.


Almost 99% of the time there is no need for an Android application to take over its own life cycle. Most of the time it comes down to better planning or smarter design of the application. For example, rather build an internal service (not exported) to handle downloads, etc., or design actions and tasks around user workflow.

But that being said, where there is a will there is a way. Android provides - through the android.os.Process class, a much better API than Java to control the underlying process. And unlike Java it does not treat the developer like a moron by hiding it all behind a simple java.lang.System.exit() call.

So how do you ask your application to commit suicide in Android? Well, the trick is simple:

Create your own Android application class by inheriting from the standard android.app.Application class (remember to declare it in the AndroidManifest.xml file).

Override the onCreate() method, and store the process ID which started your application:

this.pid = android.os.Process.myPid(); // Save for later use.

Now to kill your application, provide a kill() method:

android.os.Process.sendSignal(pid, android.os.Process.SIGNAL_KILL);

Now whenever you need your app to commit suicide just type cast the application context, and call your kill method!

((MySuicidalApp) context.getApplicationContext()).kill()

Just remember that due to the process management policies in Android, specifically related to services, Android may just opt to restart your service (see You should not use task killers on Android).


As an Application in an Android context is just a bunch of vaguely related Activities, quitting an Application doesn't really make much sense. You can finish() an Activity, and the view of the previous Activity in the Activity stack will be drawn.


Every time while you move to the next page through intent, use:

`YourActivityname.this.finish()`;

Example:

Intent intent = new Intent(getApplicationContext(), SMS.class);

startActivity(intent);
MainActivity.this.finish();

So that no activity will be running on background and when you want to Exit your app, use:

MainActivity.this.finish();
android.os.Process.killProcess(android.os.Process.myPid());
System.exit(0);
getParent().finish();

This exiting worked like a charm for me :)


For closing an app at any point use FLAG_ACTIVITY_CLEAR_TOP flag in Intent and then system.exit();

Or there is similar way, but without system.exit() when you want to exit call this method:

public void exit() {
    startActivity(new Intent(this, HomeActivity.class).
    setFlags(Intent.FLAG_ACTIVITY_NEW_TASK | IntentCompat.FLAG_ACTIVITY_CLEAR_TASK).putExtra(EXIT_FLAG, true));
}

In your HomeActivity.onCreate() add following code

protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
    if (getIntent().getBooleanExtra(EXIT_FLAG, false)) {
        if ((getIntent().getFlags() & Intent.FLAG_ACTIVITY_LAUNCHED_FROM_HISTORY) == 0) {
            finish();
        }
    }
......................

This will work without breaking the Android life-cycle.


I agree with Ted. I understand that exiting the application is not the "Android way", but it doesn't seem like it should be precluded. Here are three reasons why you might want a real exit to the application (not just the activity):

  1. The user might want some control over which app gets killed in the case of low memory. If important app A is running in the background, then you might like to exit app B when you are done with it so that app A doesn't get killed by the operating system.

  2. If your application has sensitive data cached in memory, you might like to kill the app so that a virus/worm/rogue app can't get at it. I know the security model is supposed to prevent that, but just in case...

  3. If your application uses resources (like network, CPU, sensors, etc.) that could adversely affect the phone, then one way of ensuring that those resources are freed up is to exit the application. I understand that well-behaved apps should free up resources when they are not needed. But again, exiting the application seems like a reasonable way of ensuring that.


I hope things will change over time. The user should be able to kill an app or process if the app process is sandboxed correctly by the OS. There is a notion that apps should be written perfectly or user will use only the apps that follow all SDK recommendations. I think that is a tall order.


I would consider reading "Android Wireless Application Development" published by Addison-Wesley. I am just finishing it up and it is VERY thorough.

It appears that you have some fundamental misunderstandings of the Android platform. I too was a little frustrated at first with the application life-cycle of Android apps, but after coming to a greater understanding, I have come to really enjoy this approach. This book will answer all of your questions and much more. It really is the best resource I have found for new Android developers.

Also, I think you need to let go of a line-for-line port of the existing app. In order to port your application to the Android platform, some of the application design is going to change. The application-lifecycle used is necessary as mobile devices have very limited resources relative to desktop systems and allows Android devices to run several applications in an orderly and resource-aware fashion. Do some more in depth study of the platform, and I think you will realize that what you are wanting to do is entirely feasible. Best of luck.

By the way, I am no way affiliated with Addison-Wesley or any person or organization associated with this book. After re-reading my post I feel that I came off a little fanboyish. I just really, really enjoyed it and found it extremely helpful. :)


I'd just like to add a correction here for the future readers of this thread. This particular nuance has escaped my understanding for a long time so I want to make sure none of you make the same mistakes:

System.exit() does not kill your app if you have more than one activity on the stack. What actually happens is that the process is killed and immediately restarted with one fewer activity on the stack. This is also what happens when your app is killed by the Force Close dialog, or even when you try to kill the process from DDMS. This is a fact that is entirely undocumented, to my knowledge.

The short answer is, if you want to exit your application, you've got to keep track of all activities in your stack and finish() ALL of them when the user wants to exit (and no, there is no way to iterate through the Activity stack, so you have to manage all of this yourself). Even this does not actually kill the process or any dangling references you may have. It simply finishes the activities. Also, I'm not sure whether Process.killProcess(Process.myPid()) works any better; I haven't tested it.

If, on the other hand, it is okay for you to have activities remaining in your stack, there is another method which makes things super easy for you: Activity.moveTaskToBack(true) will simply background your process and show the home screen.

The long answer involves explanation of the philosophy behind this behavior. The philosophy is born out of a number of assumptions:

  1. First of all, this only happens when your app is in the foreground. If it is in the background the process will terminate just fine. However, if it is in the foreground, the OS assumes that the user wants to keep doing whatever he/she was doing. (If you are trying to kill the process from DDMS, you should hit the home button first, and then kill it)
  2. It also assumes that each activity is independent of all the other activities. This is often true, for example in the case that your app launches the Browser Activity, which is entirely separate and was not written by you. The Browser Activity may or may not be created on the same Task, depending on its manifest attributes.
  3. It assumes that each of your activities is completely self-reliant and can be killed/restored in a moment's notice. (I rather dislike this particular assumption, since my app has many activities which rely on a large amount of cached data, too large to be efficiently serialized during onSaveInstanceState, but whaddya gonna do?) For most well-written Android apps this should be true, since you never know when your app is going to be killed off in the background.
  4. The final factor is not so much an assumption, but rather a limitation of the OS: killing the app explicitly is the same as the app crashing, and also the same as Android killing the app to reclaim memory. This culminates in our coup de grace: since Android can't tell if the app exited or crashed or was killed in the background, it assumes the user wants to return where they left off, and so the ActivityManager restarts the process.

When you think about it, this is appropriate for the platform. First, this is exactly what happens when the process is killed in the background and the user comes back to it, so it needs to be restarted where it left off. Second, this is what happens when the app crashes and presents the dreaded Force Close dialog.

Say I want my users to be able to take a picture and upload it. I launch the Camera Activity from my activity, and ask it to return an image. The Camera is pushed onto the top of my current Task (rather than being created in its own Task). If the Camera has an error and it crashes, should that result in the whole app crashing? From the standpoint of the user, only the Camera failed, and they should be returned to their previous activity. So it just restarts the process with all the same Activities in the stack, minus the Camera. Since your Activities should be designed so that they can be killed and restored at the drop of a hat, this shouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately, not all apps can be designed that way, so it is a problem for many of us, no matter what Romain Guy or anyone else tells you. So, we need to use workarounds.

So, my closing advice:

  • Don't try to kill the process. Either call finish() on all activities or call moveTaskToBack(true).
  • If your process crashes or gets killed, and if, like me, you need the data that was in memory which is now lost, you'll need to return to the root activity. To do this, you should call startActivity() with an Intent that contains the Intent.FLAG_ACTIVITY_CLEAR_TOP flag.
  • If you want to kill your app from the Eclipse DDMS perspective, it had better not be in the foreground, or it will restart itself. You should press the Home button first, and then kill the process.

If you have 10,20 .. multiple Activities running and you want to finish all them and exit from system.

Create a static array in application class or constants class.

Constants

public class Constants {

public static ArrayList<Activity> activities = new ArrayList<Activity>();

}

MainActivity Add current activity reference in this array

activity = MainActivity.this; Constants.activities.add(activity);

public class MainActivity extends Activity {

    private ImageView imageButton;
    private Activity activity;


    @Override
    public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
        setContentView(R.layout.activity_main);

        activity = MainActivity.this;
        Constants.activities.add(activity);

        imageButton = (ImageView) findViewById(R.id.camera);
        imageButton.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
            @Override
            public void onClick(View v) {

                // existing app.
                if (Constants.activities != null) {
                    for (int i = 0; i < Constants.activities.size(); i++) {
                        Activity s = Constants.activities.get(i);
                        s.finish();
                    }
                }
                //super.finish();
                finish();
                android.os.Process.killProcess(android.os.Process.myPid());
                System.exit(1);
            }
        });
    }
}

In any case, if you want to terminate your application you can always call System.exit(0);.


Stop thinking of your application as a monolithic application. It is a set of UI screens that the user can interact with your "application", and "functions" provided via Android services.

Not knowing what your mysterious app "does" is not really important. Let's assume it tunnels into some super secure corporate intranet, performing some monitoring or interaction and stays logged in until the user "quits the application". Because your IT department commands it, users must be very conscious of when they are IN or OUT of the intranet. Hence your mindset of it being important for users to "quit".

This is simple. Make a service that puts an ongoing notification in the notification bar saying "I'm in the intranet, or I am running". Have that service perform all the functionality that you need for your application. Have activities that bind to that service to allow your users to access the bits of UI they need to interact with your "application". And have an Android Menu -> Quit (or logout, or whatever) button that tells the service to quit, then closes the activity itself.

This is, for all intents and purposes exactly what you say you want. Done the Android way. Look at Google Talk or Google Maps Navigation for examples of this "exit" is possible mentality. The only difference is that pressing back button out of your activity might leave your UNIX process lying in wait just in case the user wants to revive your application. This is really no different than a modern operating system that caches recently accessed files in memory. After you quit your windows program, most likely resources that it needed are still in memory, waiting to be replaced by other resources as they are loaded now that they are no longer needed. Android is the same thing.

I really don't see your problem.


Ted, what you are trying to accomplish can be done, perhaps just not how you are thinking of it right now.

I suggest you read up on Activities and Services. Stop using the term "app" and start referring to the components, i.e. Activity, Service. I think you just need to learn more about the Android platform; it is a change in mindset from a standard PC app. The fact that none of your posts have had the word "Activity" (short of a FAQ quote, i.e. not your words) in them tells me you need to read some more.


The Linux kernel has a feature called Out-of-memory killer (as mentioned above, the policies are configurable at the userspace level as well as the kernel is not an optimal one, but by no means unnecessary).

And it is heavily used by Android:

Some userspace apps are available to assist with these kill apps, for example:


There is a (relatively) simple design which will allow you to get around the "exit" conundrum. Make your app have a "base" state (activity) which is just a blank screen. On the first onCreate of the activity, you can launch another activity that your app's main functionality is in. The "exit" can then be accomplished by finish()ing this second activity and going back to the base of just a blank screen. The OS can keep this blank screen in memory for as long as it wants...

In essence, because you cannot exit out to OS, you simply transform into a self-created nothingness.


This is an interesting and insightful discussion with so many experts contributing. I feel this post should be looped back from within the Android development main website, because it does revolve around one of the core designs of the Android OS.

I would also like to add my two cents here.

So far I have been impressed with Android's way of handling lifecycle events, bringing the concept of a web-like experience to native apps.

Having said that I still believe that there should be a Quit button. Why? ... not for me or Ted or any of the tech gurus here, but for the sole purpose of meeting an end user demand.

Though I am not a big fan of Windows, but long back they introduced a concept that most end users are used to (an X button) ... "I want to quit running a widget when 'I' want to".

That does not mean someone (OS, developer?) will take care of that at its/his/her own discretion... it simply means "where is my Red X button that I am used to". My action should be analogous to 'end a call on pressing of a button', 'turn off the device by pressing a button', and so on and so forth ... it's a perception. It brings a satisfaction per se that my action indeed achieve its purpose.

Even though a developer can spoof this behavior using suggestions given here, the perception still remains i.e. an application should completely cease to function (now), by an independent, trusted and neutral source (OS) on demand from the end user.


This will eventually get to your question, but I first want to address a number of issues you raise in your various comments to the various answers already given at the time of this writing. I have no intention of changing your mind -- rather, these are here for others who come to read this post in the future.

The point is that I cannot allow for Android to determine when my app is going to be terminated. that must be the choice of the user.

Millions of people are perfectly happy with the model where the environment closes up the application as needed. Those users simply don't think about "terminating" the Android app, any more than they think about "terminating" a Web page or "terminating" a thermostat.

iPhone users are much the same way, in that pressing the iPhone button does not necessarily "feel" like the app was terminated, since many iPhone apps pick up where the user left off, even if the app really was shut down (since iPhone only allows one third-party app at a time, at present).

As I said above, there is a lot of things going on in my app (data being PUSHed to the device, lists with tasks that always should be there, etc.).

I don't know what "lists with tasks that always should be there" means, but the "data being PUSHed to the device" is a pleasant fiction and should not be done by an activity in any case. Use a scheduled task (via AlarmManager) to update your data for maximum reliability.

Our users log in and can't be doing that every time they get a phone call and Android decides to kill the app.

There are many iPhone and Android applications that deal with this. Usually, it is because they hold onto logon credentials, rather than forcing users to log in every time manually.

For example, we want to check updates when exiting the application

That is a mistake on any operating system. For all you know, the reason your application is being "exited" is because the OS is shutting down, and then your update process will fail mid-stream. Generally, that's not a good thing. Either check updates on start or check updates totally asynchronously (e.g., via a scheduled task), never on exit.

Some comments suggest that hitting the back button does not kill the app at all (see link in my question above).

Pressing the BACK button does not "kill the app". It finishes the activity that was on-screen when the user pressed the BACK button.

It should only terminate when the users wants to terminate it - never ever any other way. If you can't write apps that behave like that in Android, then I think that Android can't be used for writing real apps =(

Then neither can Web applications. Or WebOS, if I understand their model correctly (haven't had a chance to play with one yet). In all of those, users don't "terminate" anything -- they just leave. iPhone is a bit different, in that it only presently allows one thing to run at a time (with a few exceptions), and so the act of leaving implies a fairly immediate termination of the app.

Is there a way for me to really quit the application?

As everybody else told you, users (via BACK) or your code (via finish()) can close up your currently-running activity. Users generally don't need anything else, for properly-written applications, any more than they need a "quit" option for using Web applications.


No two application environments are the same, by definition. This means that you can see trends in environments as new ones arise and others get buried.

For example, there is a growing movement to try to eliminate the notion of the "file". Most Web applications don't force users to think of files. iPhone apps typically don't force users to think of files. Android apps generally don't force users to think of files. And so on.

Similarly, there is a growing movement to try to eliminate the notion of "terminating" an app. Most Web applications don't force the user to log out, but rather implicitly log the user out after a period of inactivity. Same thing with Android, and to a lesser extent, iPhone (and possibly WebOS).

This requires more emphasis on application design, focusing on business goals and not sticking with an implementation model tied to a previous application environment. Developers who lack the time or inclination to do this will get frustrated with newer environments that break their existing mental model. This is not the fault of either environment, any more than it is the fault of a mountain for storms flowing around it rather than through it.

For example, some development environments, like Hypercard and Smalltalk, had the application and the development tools co-mingled in one setup. This concept did not catch on much, outside of language extensions to apps (e.g., VBA in Excel, Lisp in AutoCAD). Developers who came up with mental models that presumed the existence of development tools in the app itself, therefore, either had to change their model or limit themselves to environments where their model would hold true.

So, when you write:

Along with other messy things I discovered, I think that developing our app for Android is not going to happen.

That would appear to be for the best, for you, for right now. Similarly, I would counsel you against attempting to port your application to the Web, since some of the same problems you have reported with Android you will find in Web applications as well (e.g., no "termination"). Or, conversely, someday if you do port your app to the Web, you may find that the Web application's flow may be a better match for Android, and you can revisit an Android port at that time.


Without an exit function for the application developer to kill their own application it is very bad design.

My application needs to allow the user to dynamically change data dynamically during runtime and the user needs to restart my application to make the change effect, but Android did not allow my application restart by itself. Android OS has a very bad design application life cycle.


You can quit, either by pressing the Back button or by calling finish() in your Activity. Just call finish() from a MenuItem if you want to explicitly kill it off.

Romain isn't saying it can't be done, just that it's pointless — users don't need to care about quitting or saving their work or whatever, as the way the application lifecycle works encourages you to write smart software that automatically saves and restores its state no matter what happens.





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