Will Apple backtrack on iPhone multitasking?

Will Apple backtrack on iPhone multitasking?

Summary: Reports/rumors are circulating that Apple is planning to include multitasking in its iPhone 4.0 OS. Will the Cupertino giant backtrack on its claim that users don't need to be able to run more than one app at a time?


Reports/rumors are circulating that Apple is planning to include multitasking in its iPhone 4.0 OS. Will the Cupertino giant backtrack on its claim that users don't need to be able to run more than one app at a time?

First, to the rumor. Here's how AppleInsider describes its sources:

People with a proven track record in predicting Apple's technological advances tell AppleInsider ...

OK, a prediction. Was a crystal ball involved?

There's more ...

... that the Cupertino-based company has developed a "full-on solution" to multitasking on the iPhone OS but offered no specifics on how the technology would optimize resource conservation and battery life -- two of the most critical issues surrounding the matter, alongside security.

So, no details ... OK, just so we know what we're dealing with here.

[poll id="511"]

To my mind, a "prediction" is a very different thing to a tip, so the pinch of salt I'm taking this rumor with is doubled for good measure. Also, the "prediction" of an iPhone OS that multitasks is not a new one. I've been coming across these rumors regularly since the release of the iPhone.

But what about this rumor? Does it have legs?

Well, yes. First off, let's not forget that some iPhone apps (email, iPod, calendar and so on) can already multitask, the limitation applies to third-party app developers. If the iPhone has been jailbroken, then the limitation is lifted. But results vary dramatically based on what apps you're running in the background, some play well, others badly. Also, the effect that multitasking has on performance and battery life is dependent on the apps. 

Then there's the pressure that background apps have on the cell network. Does AT&T really want millions of iPhones being able to run all sorts of bandwidth sucking apps in the background? Unlikely given that AT&T is having a hard time providing enough capacity in some areas already.

Then there's that whole backtracking thing. Apple has gone on the record to say that it believes that multitasking on the iPhone platform is a bad thing. If Apple backtracks on background apps, will it be because of pressure from users, or because running apps in the background is no longer a bad thing?

I have a hard time believing that Apple would allow multitasking across all iPhone and iPod touch devices, especially the older devices. The jailbreaking multitask experience is a very hit and miss one, and unless Apple radically revamps the OS, Apple's solution would be the same. Unless the experience is a top-notch one, I don't see it happening.

What's far more likely in my opinion is that Apple unlocks multitasking on the next generation iPhone (and perhaps the iPad, which has high spec hardware) which would have the hardware to handle multitasking. Older hardware would be left out.

If Apple allows background apps in the first place ...

Topics: Hardware, Apple, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • Huh? I chose "I don't use an iPhone" and it said

    that I chose "No".
    John Zern
  • RE: Will Apple backtrack on iPhone multitasking?

    Adrian ... come on ... "Will Apple backtrack on iPhone

    This article is a classic case of ... "Dammed if you do,
    dammed if you don't" type of journalistic reporting.

    As it is, I'm betting that only the next gen iPhone and iPad
    mobile units will have this feature but who really knows?
  • Short-term memory strikes again!

    Apple didn't explicitly say that multitasking was evil and should never exist on the iPhone.

    What it did say was that most existing implementations are flawed (especially Windows Mobile) and that it thought the best solution at the time was push notification.

    Since then, Palm webOS has shown us how it can be done easily, and Apple has probably been working on its own solution, even if it knew it might be late to the party.

    Besides, this is the same company that said you didn't need video on an iPod and that no one reads anymore. Whenever Apple downplays a perceived important factor, it's usually because it's biding time until it has the feature done in a way people would like.
  • And we had to have an article on this!!!!

    Of course multitasking is good..I do it on my Nexus One, and it's great.
  • AKH. Multitasking on any mobile OS is hit and miss

    Really. Even on Android multitasking can cut your stand by time
    from a day or more to 1 to 2 hours. Web OS is little better and I
    have know several people to have traded from Web OS to an
    iPhone because of battery.

    If multitasking comes, I want a real solution and not the easy
    solution os orher OSes like Android and windows CE.
  • Probably if they cant improve the appalling battery life

  • Widget multitasking

    Is there a middle ground for multitasking? Having multiple power hungry apps running simultaneously might be asking a bit much but how about a widget framework? You'd get greater functionality than push notifications whilst having lower power requirements than a full blown app.
    Take for example Skype. You don't need the full Skype app, just a widget that will open Skype when a call comes in.