AppleInsider is reporting that the next-gen iPhone will finally include support for system wide multitasking, an issue some users have been complaining about ever since the original iPhone first debuted.
While some know-it-all pundits have chastised the iPhone for its inability to support multitasking, the reality is that the iPhone OS is more than capable of running multiple apps at the same time. The caveat, though, is that Apple only allows its homegrown apps to run concurrently. So while you can’t check your email while listening to Pandora, for example, you can listen to music from your iTunes library while browsing the web.
Apple’s reluctance to implement system wide multitasking has everything to do with ensuring an enjoyable user experience for iPhone owners. In a world where every app can remain open in the background, CPU cycles would be eaten up like crazy and battery life would grind to a slow and frustratingly low level.
From our point of view, we’ve always been of the mind that if an app is designed correctly, multitasking shouldn’t even be a concern, save perhaps for a few type of apps like Pandora. As an example, if I’m playing a game of X2 Football on my iPhone, and then go to Safari to google the name of a player, my gaming session is terminated. But because the developers of X2 Football know what they’re doing, I can re-open the app and continue the match exactly from where I left off. And with apps on the latest iPhone and iPod Touch models opening up lickitty split, it feels as if I’m multitasking even though I’m technically not. Also, Apple’s implementation of push notifications for apps like AIM seem to work swimmingly.
While AppleInsider’s report doesn’t divulge any technical details regarding how Apple plans to deal with issues such as an app sucking up all of the battery life, or even how a user will be able to tell which apps are even running in the first place, AI makes clear that the source for their story has a “proven track record in predicting Apple’s technological advances.” Encouragingly, the report notes that Apple’s implementation of multitasking is a “full-on solution” that will presumably address all of the current concerns and problems that currently plague other mobile OS platforms that allow multitasking. Apple has previously mocked its competitors for having to include apps that monitor system resources and allow users to kill processes, so we can only assume that Apple’s solution will be infinitely more elegant than the “advanced task killer” app that’s a best-seller for Android.
One possible solution would be a scenario in which all apps, by default, are precluded from running in the background unless a user makes a pro-active choice to give an app permission to run in the background. This would ensure that only the most technically savvy iPhone owners would be able to take a dip in the multitasking waters. At the same time, Apple will need to have an easy and intuitive way for users to quickly scan which apps are currently in play, and immediately close whichever apps no longer need to be running.
Further Reading: Why most tech users aren’t savvy enough to handle multitasking