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Multitasking a go for iPhone 4.0, say sources

updated 11:10 am EST, Thu March 11, 2010

May borrow Mac interface concepts

The iPhone 4.0 firmware will definitely feature multitasking, claim several sources. Apple is said to have developed a "full-on solution" to multitasking, although no details have been leaked on how problems like battery life, memory use and processor consumption will be handled. The interface for switching between apps is also being kept in the dark, partly because it has a "way to go" before it nears final form.

It is nevertheless claimed by AppleInsider contacts that the task manager will be based on interface technology in Mac OS X, which could potentially refer to the basic Command-Tab switcher, or something like Expose.

Multitasking is one of the most frequently requested features for the iPhone, as the technology has long been on other smartphones, notably those based on Windows Mobile. Apple has been extremely concerned about preserving speed and battery life, however, and currently limits multitasking to first-party apps such as the phone dialer and the iPod. Users cannot, for example, stream Internet radio and play a game at the same time, or even start a radio app and then return to a first-party app.

The change in policy is likely related to improving hardware specifications. Rumors propose that the next iPhone -- likely to ship in June or July -- could use a variant of the A4 processor found in the iPad. Apple could also conceivably increase the amount of available RAM on the iPhone to ensure rapid switching times.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. Fretboard

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +5

    A Much Needed Feature

    It's great to hear multitasking is coming to the new iPhone 4.0 O/S. But is it safe to assume the same can be said for the iPad this summer with the arrival of the new O/S?

    In any case, I'm looking forward to an even more useful iPhone.

    http://iPadLot.com

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +3

    Throttling background apps?

    Apple may throttle the CPU usage given to background apps to preserve performance and battery life. Seems fair for such a device. It's not like you'll be doing background 3D rendering on your iPhone.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +4

    As long as Apple can assure battery

    life won't be decreased considerably, I guess it would be OK. I still think they should have a set limit on how many tasks can run in the background just so that low-tech users won't be running a bunch of apps unnecessarily if they forget to shut them down. I still believe that most iPhone users do not require concurrently running apps. I'd think that longer battery life between charges would be more of a consideration. If Apple goes to a battery conserving display technology and has a specialized low-power processor then maybe they can increase battery life. Whatever, I hope Apple knows what it's doing.

  1. liamsteadman

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    You can stream internet radio already!!

    I use the Heart Radio app in the UK for Heart Radio in London. In the app, under the actions button, theres a link to open it whilst doing other tasks. This opens a .m3u stream in safari. This carries on playing in the background whilst you press home and go to other apps. So internet radio streaming is possible currently on the iphone. See the Heart app in the app store.

  1. QualleyIV

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +4

    Mixed feelings

    The iPhone has been such a win as much for the things that has as for those which it does not have. I truly believe that multitasking is one that falls in the later category. Just like copy/paste, I believe this is something that the computer geeks (and I include myself in that category) want, but that your average iPhone consumer couldn't care less about. Personally, I know a LOT of people who own iPhones and I have NEVER heard one of them complain about the lack of multitasking. I would bargain that I couldn't find ONE iPhone owner (other than my brother) who would even know what multitasking would do for them on their iPhone. On the flip side, I bet you that every iPhone owner I know would notice if they installed an OS update that caused their phone to get half of the battery life...

  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    Re: Mixed feelings

    I've dropped this anecdote before but I'd venture most people don't realize what multitasking is, and instead, they're wondering, "How come I can't listen to the NPR app while I go check my mail?"

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -2

    Re: You can stream...

    ...This opens a .m3u stream in safari. This carries on playing in the background whilst you press home and go to other apps. So internet radio streaming is possible currently on the iphone.

    First, that's nice, assuming the internet radio you want to listen to has an m3u link for you to go to your browser on. But, um, why should I have to go to the browser in order to stream radio? Isn't that like going to the browser to play a game? It isn't what the browser is for.

    Secondly, this points out one of those misconceptions about the iPhone OS. It DOES allow for multi-tasking. It's just that Apple currently reserves all multi-tasking apps to it's own, they just don't really tell you they do it.

    This would normally be a no-big-deal issue, except it causes battery issues at some times. If you go to some web sites (not sure what is on them, as it seems varied to me), you can have your battery be sucked dry in half a day, even though your phone is 'off'. That's because these sites seem to auto-refresh, or possibly have some type of high-CPU animation that causes huge battery drain.

    But it's OK since it's Safari. If it's Bob's killer multi-tasking app, then it becomes a serious issue that Apple needs to protect people from.

  1. facebook_Colin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Mar 2010

    +2

    Multitasking already being done

    Well, if you are willing to enter the deep dark world of Jailbreaking, which I resisted for some time, you will be happy to find ProSwitcher, which lets you background any app, and switch between apps easily and intuitively. Not sure what is preventing Apple from simply implementing Backgrounder and such an app, as I have never had a crash or memory issue as a result. Now I can happily stream Pandora while surfing the web etc. Some apps still won't play nice, such as the audio visualizers and anything that plays audio :( But otherwise, it works great. Unfortunately if you have already upgraded to 3.1.3, there is no jailbreak yet for this iteration of iPhoneOS.

  1. Fast iBook

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +4

    Might be good...

    Might be good for competing against other phones, but for me i'd never use it, waste of battery and memory.

    - A

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