iPhone 4.0 software to finally deliver multitasking?

By on March 11, 2010, 1:59 PM
Rumors about multitasking on the iPhone have come and gone many times over the last couple of years. It's been one of the most asked for features ever since Apple started supporting third party apps with iPhone OS 2.0, and represents a major shortcoming when compared to other smartphones on the market. The hardware is clearly capable, as "jailbreakers" have proven, but Apple artificially limits this functionality to a few sanctioned apps due to battery, resource and security concerns.

According to AppleInsider, however, an upcoming iPhone 4.0 software will finally bring multitasking to the platform this summer. The "full-on solution" will reportedly support several third party apps running at once in a "multitasking manager that leverages interface technology already bundled with its Mac OS X operating system." This could potentially refer to the basic Command-Tab switcher, or something like Expose.

Unfortunately, no more details are available at this point. The change in policy is likely related to a future hardware update. Rumors suggest that the next iPhone -- likely to be announced around June -- could use a variant of the A4 processor found in the iPad as well as additional RAM.

User Comments: 27

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compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is seriously a major limitation compared to other manufactures. I hope it works on my 3rd gen ipod touch as well, as i have been been using it as a skype phone to make calls, but it doesn't work for receiving calls as you have to keep it open all the time.

natefalk natefalk said:

I wonder if the only reason they did this is because of the iPad.

Who would want a tablet with no multi-tasking?

pgbsamurai said:

Yeah, I wish they would state which handsets they plan on supporting with 4.0.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Sounds good, just in time for the iPhone 4G. However I would be interested to see how well the multi-tasking works on a 3G because I'm not sure the hardware would be up to it.

androb said:

As an iPhone developer myself, I'm in favor of the multitasking prevention. Users complained about this lack of feature.. they wanted to use their phones and have some programs in the background, say the techspot ficticious app for example, and be notified without "opening it" about new messages or something like that ( something that the blackberry uses ).

If you own a blackberry device, or have owned one.. I'm sure I speak for everyone that at some point the phone just gets frozen and dumb. This is because running background processes "concurrently" tends to eat up important resources needed by all programs, such as processor time, battery life, and chunks of memory.

The funny thing is that this is just a simulation, see, one actually believes that many programs are running at once. This illusion is created by the OS, which implements specific scheduling algorithms and preempts programs here and there and making sure the processor is never idle. The phone is actually running one program at a time. What does this mean? the more programs you run in "the background", the more programs the OS has to deal with, and resources just get depleted.

This can be safely assumed since all iPhone, Ipod devices are uni-processor systems.

Keep in mind, though.. the iPhone OS.. since it only allows you to run a third-party app at a time, if the applications eats up ( uses ) a lot of memory, or while you are using it it starts allocating too much memory.. the iPhone automatically shuts the program down ( no wonder when you use a third-party app, suddenly, it shuts down! ). This conservative memory management scheme allows the iPhone to run efficiently without interrupting response time ( which is what the user is interested in, a phone that works while using any program! )

If they attempt to allow "multi-tasking" ilusion in the iphone, and permit the feature to run programs "concurrently", the net result would probably be disastrous. Also, assuming they do this.. suppose you run many programs.. due to the conservative memory management techniques.. some programs in the background will probably shutdown. If the memory management scheme shuts down a program while you are running it ( and only running one program at a time ), imagine the result running multiple programs.. what if you run games? gets complicated.

Of course the feature can be implemented, but this will take plenty of research and test cases, the best solution is an attempt to give this ilusion, but also to be very selective as to what "priviledges" a program can have while running in the background... with the intention to be as conservative as possible for the iphone to run smoothly. Don't expect to be running multiple programs and yet see those nice animations going on.. ( a thread gets spawned for the animation procedures, therefore "more concurrency" inside it )

When they "promised" the feature that other phones had, such as being notified by a program running in the background of something, they actually did come up with a solution. But that tooks months from the promised day. This solution was elegant, since it allowed to programs ( applications ) to remind you of something ( say a facebook message ) on your phone. The difference is that you didn't need to open the program at all!!!! the program doesn't actually run in the background!

RockandRepublic said:

I wonder what this could mean for the Touch.

elroacho72 said:

That's another reason why I haven't been missing out. I found it hard to believe that they have just now got multitasking. Now they have multitasking and ITUNES (I hate ITUNES). I will still stick to Windows Mobile.

alexandrionel said:

) and I didn't have to wait for such a long time to have multitasking on my smartphone, also I didn't spend a fortune on it just to have the apple brand.

jasonk1229 said:

With the Iphone being so popular it boggles my mind that apple wouldnt respond faster to implementing much needed features

ludoboss said:

Give a banana to a monkey and u'll see. Give more banana and u'll see. I mean That Aplle must give us upgrades one by one to let at people the time to understand how use the phone, his pro and the way to preserve battery when your ego whants all on!

mrtraver said:

It cracks me up that the mere possibility of multitasking on this overhyped piece of hardware is newsworthy, when my last two un-smart phones could to this.

InsaneVr6 said:

Honestly I think this is only happening because of the iPad, because like a previous poster said: who would want a tablet without multitasking?

Things like this make me think that Jail-broken devices are not bad for Apple, but only make me want one even more, because people are now using the devices to their full potential, rather than being limited for countless reasons. However, I can see how now Apple realizes multi-tasking is something they need to officially support.

flukeh said:

InsaneVr6 said:

Things like this make me think that Jail-broken devices are not bad for Apple, but only make me want one even more, because people are now using the devices to their full potential, rather than being limited for countless reasons. However, I can see how now Apple realizes multi-tasking is something they need to officially support.

It's all about money. Apple is, after all, a business. Like all other companies, and they can charge more for an inferior (in my opinion) product and get away with it because it holds the sacred apple logo. 50% of the money people pay for the iPhone are for bragging rights to their friends who really don't care.

zyodei said:

I have considered developing a couple apps on the iPhone myself. But, the ideas I have had would all require to run in the background, so I had to scrap them.

I think the proper think is to make multitasking restricted, and to be very clever about how it is implemented. Say, a clear visual marker of how loaded down your system is, and what the battery life will be with the current app load.

Is there an app for that? Well, no, because that would require multitasking to make something like that

pipopaz said:

natefalk said:

I wonder if the only reason they did this is because of the iPad.

Who would want a tablet with no multi-tasking?

I think that's was one of the main things the iPad was attacked on so I do believe it is a strong reason they decided, if it is true, the multitasking. I'm still not convinced until I see it.

Yoda8232 said:

This should and better happen, everyone needs to multitask these days. Well not everyone but most of the population, especially business users.

rskapadia2294 said:

the only reason that apple has developed this is just to maintain its hold over the market!

as google has allowed third party apps for its android , the iphone was becoming quite outdated!

hence this measure is taken by apple!

smart guys! but i love their products!

ansarimikail said:

At last, the fact that Apple hasn't supported multitasking up-to now is just shameful.

waelthefirst said:

As always we wait for Apple to give us a feature found in any other device (long time ago)

and we thank them for this

but Thanks for copy Apple

Guest said:

Where is the Bloody FLASH PLAYER FOR GOD SAKE!!!

yangly18 yangly18 said:

truth is, iphones arn't a complete computer with huge cpu/motherboards...they really can't handle doing more then one thing at once. sad, but true.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Wow didn't even know u could only do one thing at a time on the iphone. Hell I can even 'suspend' a game on my little flip phone and come back right where i left off. lol.

DryIce said:

Good. The iPhone needed multitasking.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

The lack of multitasking is very annoying, but for some reason, I can easily see iPhone OS 4.0 NOT having it.

chuchu232 said:

i use multiflow on my ipod touch 2g, and can see quite clearly what the problem for multitasking is. it completely destroys the battery and memory (you can check them very accurately with an app that comes as a part of sbsettings) and the memory goes down to 6 and it just closes everything. this is also the reason why some web pages take forever to load on ipod/iphone. I dont really need multitasking anyways. not between apps at least. just flipping between rayman, safari, and the springboard is fine.

Nirkon said:

Maybe they'll include multitasking in their iPad.... i think that's like basic functionality!

drasho said:

It about time they gave multitask to iphone... Every other smartphone has this... It long overdue...

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