There's been a bit of fuss over the way the HTC One X (and One XL) handles multitasking, with some folks saying the phone is broken when talking about the way it handles tasks in the background. While it certainly is different than what we see on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, or other devices running previous versions of Android, it's not broken at all -- HTC has just tweaked it. Like everything else in the Android source code, the way the kernel and system free memory from background tasks is wide open and subject to the whim of whoever does the software building. In this case, it's an area we're pretty familiar with, and something we've been hacking at since the days of the lowly HTC Hero -- the minfree settings and kernel low memory killer.
What's happening is that the settings have been adjusted to keep more memory free for Sense 4 to gobble up, at the expense of applications running in the background. It's not a big edit, but with the One X's big screen and Sense 4's big footprint, it's a big enough edit to force things to close in the background more aggressively than we're used to seeing. Apps that have a bit of priority (ranging from the important things like the phone dialer to the less-important like the music player) seem to act just fine, but bigger applications, like Chrome beta for example, seem to suspend and need to re-open whenever they are returned to from the application switching menu.
For the more nerdly among us, I've looked and found one set of changes in the One X's boot image. The Stock AOSP build of 4.0.4 writes these values to the minfree settings:
8099, 10132, 12165, 14213, 16245, 20295
The AT&T HTC One X uses these settings (as we're using the system, anyway):
7746, 9720, 11694, 13742, 15715, 24709
Our Tegra 3 version of the HTC One X is showing the following, again, as we're using the system:
8192, 10240, 12288, 14336, 16384, 20480
It's very likely that there are other changes in the kernel source as well.
The real issue here is that it's different than what we're used to seeing. Many seem not to like it, and would prefer the "old way". If you're riding the root train, that's a possibility -- our own Senior Developer Beezy is looking at things, and working on a few edits. If you're not into hacking your device, you're going to have to realize that HTC has built the One X their way. It's not wrong, it's just not stock Android.