Apple plays its 'multitasking' card - it's no ace | webOS Nation

Apple plays its 'multitasking' card - it's no ace

by Dieter Bohn Thu, 08 Apr 2010 4:32 pm EDT


Time to talk a little competition, namely: the iPhone. Apple has announced iPhone 4.0 and sister-site TiPb is all over it. There are 7 "Tentpole" features that Apple is saying will excite end users. Email gets a bump with multiple Exchange accounts (welcome to the party, guys), fast inbox switching, and threaded messaging (point). iBooks arrives. Enterprise support gets better. Apple gets a social gaming hub. Making ads for mobile apps is easier. You can create folders for apps. All good stuff.

The big one, though, is 'multitasking,' and yes, we have our snark fully on with the scare quotes. What Apple is doing instead of 'true' multitasking is offering seven different OS-level services that apps can take advantage of in lieu of actually running in the background: audio, VOIP, location, push notifications, local notifications, task finishing, and fast app switching. To switch to a recently opened app, you double-tap the home button and a dock of your recent apps pops up. When you think about it, it's actually a very elegant solution for maintaining the maximum amount of battery life and speed on a device - albeit by sacrificing certain things.

So why would a non-charitable person call this 'multitasking-lite?' Such a gadfly might point out that the UI here isn't as elegant as webOS; that it requires developers to revisit their apps to add multitasking support; that there's no 'closing' apps because in most cases technically they're not running in the background, they're just frozen and the OS is providing services for them; that there might be background services that developers would want that aren't in Apple's list of seven; that worst of all Apple is making developers spend more and more time on iPhone-only code instead of code that could potentially work cross-platform, thereby increasing lock-in.

Heck, that gadfly might even point out that there are multiple meanings to the word 'multitasking' and one meaning surely includes 'managing multiple tasks without crazy-annoying and interruptive pop-up notifications bothering you and then disappearing as a badge on an icon in some folder on page 7 of your iPhone springboard.' 

Good thing we're not that mean. Instead we'll just say that we wish our iPhone-toting friends well and will continue to be jealous of the number of apps and battery life on the iPhone. We'll also wonder if there are background tasks that aren't covered in Apple's list of seven - can you think of any?