Report: iPhone 4.0 software to support multitasking

Report: iPhone 4.0 software to support multitasking

Summary: Apple will introduce a "full-on solution" to multitasking in version 4.0 of the iPhone operating system, according to a new report.


Love Apple's iPhone, but envy Android and Palm users who can run more than one app at the same time?

According to a new AppleInsider report, that's going to change this summer. Apple will introduce a "full-on solution" to multitasking in version 4.0 of the iPhone operating system.

Questions that remain once Apple flips the multitask switch:

  • How the iPhone will conserve resources and battery life
  • How the interface will manage notifications and switching between apps
  • If there will be a limit to how many apps a user can have open
  • What part push alerts will play now that apps can run in the background

According to the report, Apple plans to deliver a multitasking manager that uses interface technology found in its Mac OS X operating system.

As a reminder, the iPhone can technically already multitask. But Apple artificially restricts third-party apps from doing so.

The feature could really help geolocation apps (Google Latitude, Foursquare, etc.) take off, as well as music streaming such as Pandora and ZDNet corporate cousin

The AppleInsider report raises questions about security -- after all, if an app is running in the background, it could be running without the user being aware of it -- but I don't think this is much of an issue, given Apple's tight restrictions on content for the device.

One last tidbit: the solution has "quite a way to go" before it's ready for prime time.

Topics: Software, Apple, Apps, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Operating Systems, Smartphones

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • And now I know the next complaint

    Now that multitasking will be implemented everyone will be complaining that the battery life has dropped.

    I hope they give you the option to leave the system running as it is now. I really don't think many people have a need to run their portable office and GPS (or any other apps)at the same time.

    The screen is to small to see both simultaneously, what is the big deal about closing one and opening another?
    • I'll give you one

      As a regretful purchaser of Navigon, I realized after purchase the an incoming call causes me to have to restart Navigon after the call is taken.

      If Navigon restarted in 1-2 seconds, no big deal, it doesn't. It pretty much renders the iPhone useless as a turn by turn GPS while driving, unless I ignore calls.

      I'm not sure how Tom Tom handles this. It may be a Navigon only issue and have nothing to do with the iPhone OS, but it's a pain.

      Navigon does do a good job as a GPS. But, I will say it was a bonehead move on my part to think it would be good to have a GPS on my phone. Both the phone and the GPS are pretty much needed at the same time.

      If anyone knows of a setting that will fix this, please jump in.
      • Google Navigation keeps updating..

        while I talk on the phone. OOPS - wait..thats my Droid on Android 2.0.1. Have fun with that. Maybe its time to upgrade to a real device vs a toy.
        • Same here with Windows Mobile.

          My navigation apps work just fine while I'm talking on the phone (though I don't have Google Nav. I admit it - I'm jealous). I can even push the phone interface to the background and bring the map to the foreground while talking. At the same time I can also have my phone record the conversation (beware of your local laws!) to an GSM compressed wav file.

          But I'm sure iPhone users will rave about Apple's "innovation" when they finally get what the rest of world has had for the last half-decade or so.
          • Rave? no, be a bit happier though : )

            This is really one of the few apps where, for me, multi-tasking, is an issue. I admit though, I may just be ignorant of others.

            Beyond being able to switch seamlessly between a call and Navigon, I found having my phone mounted in a good position for GPS driving is also a pain when I want to use it as a phone. I constantly have to re-cradle it.

            I probably should have just stuck with my Magellan and skipped Navigon. Live and learn.
          • No handsfree?

            Here is CA it's illegal to talk on a phone in a car wihtout a handsfree device, so I use a visor mounted bluetooth kit, so I never need to take it out of the car cradle.
        • Funny thing about the phone YOU claim is a toy

          it makes phone calls, it surfs the web, it get email, it has thousands of very useful apps, and it has saved someone's life. Sounds like a pretty useful device to me...
      • @psquared007

        Funny, I was doing just that the other with my wife's iPhone. It didn't seem to have that problem. The only thing was I lost a little bit of screen as it had the green bar across the top that said "touch here to return to phone call" or something, but it definitely was doing both.
        • Hmmm....(thansks Ax, maybe there's hope)

          I'll check the boards. I've tested mine a couple of times. Accepting the inbound call, definitely takes me out of Navigon.
          • @psquared007

            Perhaps that's the difference? I think maybe I made the call and then went into navigation?
            I don't have an iPhone here to test it.
    • Go To Brookstone Store

      I got a case for my IPhone that is also an extra battery, when the phone is down to near emtpy, I flip a switch and the phone is on reserve power giving me another 4-6 hours of use. Thank goodness for multi-tasking!
    • I don't think it would hurt the battery life

      My Touch Pro 2 has several background apps running at all times and my battery life is fine. It will last two days on a charge with moderate use - one day on days when I use the internet more often.

      It is possible for background apps to kill your battery, but only if they are written badly. The iPhone app store vetting process will almost certainly prevent this. In the wild-wild west of Windows Mobile apps, badly written battery-killing apps are shunned in public via word of mouth and therefore, not all that common.
  • Watch this require a new device...

    it will be a cold day in hell Apple offers this to ALL versions of the iPhone. It took them 3 revisions to get Copy/Paste and MMS messaging, took them (apparently) 4 to get multi-tasking for all apps. Yea thats what proprietary software gets ya. Android could do all that from day 1.
    • Cut and Paste on Android?

      Sorry, that seems to be problematic.

      • @msalzberg

        That's funny! All the crap the iPhone gets about cut and paste and the droid's cut and paste is incomplete at best. It sounded like if you have a droid phone without keys, you can't use cut and paste. Another is one of the links you posted the user was frustrated that he couldn't cut and paste a phone number in the dialer. When the iPhone uses data detectors to find info like that rendering cut and paste irrelevant. I never once had to cut and paste a phone number to dial it on my wife's iPhone.
        • Cut and Paste

          Cut and Paste works on my droid. I have to hold
          my finger on it for 2 seconds and I get the
          option. However, it doesn't seem to work in text
          messages. Just on myspace and facebook app. But,
          I'm also about 2 versions behind on my software,
          so maybe that's something they have in the new
          software versions.
    • Not a "proprietary software" problem

      It's a control freak/walled garden problem.
    • I'm Sure 3GS Will Support It

      I am not one to run multiple apps at the same time, but being able to run things like IHeartRadio, Palringo Chat, and a few other things concurrently would be nice...and to be able to get a phone call and answer it without having to shut the app down.
      • yes, i think the iPhone 3G also would support it,

        but really how many times you would need true multi-tasking. I have
        seen need only for few handful of times. Not a big deal. I want to see a
        decent 5MP camera and a HD capable camcorder and may decent
        zoom with a LED Flash. This eliminates me carrying
        camera/camcorders while I am on business travel. I carry WowWee
        Cinemin Swivel Projector, and I use it with my WinMob and iPhone.
        This is helping me a lot and I have found few situations where I found
        a need for multitasking, but thats all. Other than that we really don't
        need multi-tasking and if Apple can extend the Push Notification can
        work with the user's choice applications to carry the information
        between apps without rewriting them, that would be nice and gives
        more potential than having true multi-tasking.
        Ram U
    • It didn't take them 3 revisions to get

      these things - it's just that Apple caved into user complaints about what was missing. As for needing a new device my 3G - jailbroken - CAN multitask 3rd party apps... the battery life suffers a bit but the hardware is more than capable of "true" multitasking. I keep it disabled most of the time because I really don't need it. And the copy/paste on Android is far from easy and intuitive like it is on the iPhone... imagine what some software development time will get ya...