OS X Mavericks Preview: App Nap helps you work longer from your laptop

It's really easy to have a bunch of apps running at the same time, but as it stands now, that'll kill your battery life pretty quickly. OS X Mavericks is intelligent enough to know when open apps aren't doing anything, and forces them into dormancy.

Sometimes in the course of your day, you'll open one, two, three, half a dozen Mac apps without thinking about it. If you have lots of RAM installed on your Mac and you're not working from battery power, this can be no big deal - but every little bit helps when you have to manage resources like power and CPU activity. OS X Maverick's built-in App Nap function helps better manage what's going on when you have a bunch of apps open.

Here's what Apple has to say{.nofollow} about App Nap:

App Nap helps you save power when you’re working with multiple apps at the same time. OS X can tell when an app is completely hidden behind other windows. And if that app isn’t currently doing something for you — playing music, downloading a file, or checking email, for example — App Nap conserves valuable battery life by slowing the app down.

"Power drops right down. That's extending your battery life," explained Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi. "...It's really gonna help your battery life."

Here's the scenario: You've opened up iTunes, Safari, and Mail. You're listening to music while surfing the Web and composing an e-mail to your client about the project you're working on.

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If you have Safari loaded with a web page that has any sort of Flash content on it - an in-line ad, say, or a game or video - you'll watch your CPU drop to its knees as it tries to pay attention to that and everything else you're trying to do. All of a sudden your Mac gets hot, and you hear the fans kicking into high gear to get all that heat away from the sensitive parts therein. And that's when you begin to notice that your battery life is falling off faster than water through a sieve.

Enter App Nap. This cool new technology built into OS X Mavericks knows when you have an app whose window is hidden behind another app. If that app is idle and not actively engaged in some task - App Nap will automatically slow the app down. As soon as you bring the app front and center, or bring that window forward, it speeds right back up as if nothing's happened.

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The net result? You save battery life. Apple's tests showed that CPU energy use can be reduced up to 23 percent using App Nap.

App Nap, along with Timer Coalescing and other new "under the hood" features in OS X Mavericks, promise to make your Mac laptop's battery last longer and work more efficiently. What technology in Mavericks are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments and visit these links for more.

Peter Cohen