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.