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Multitasking in Symbian OS 5.0 (on the S60)  (Source: Maximum PC)

Both the Palm Pre (shown here) and the Symbian OS 5.0 (above) support full multi-tasking. The iPhone does not. That offers some gaming and security benefits for the iPhone, but prevents some useful apps. Full multi-tasking is rumored to be coming with iPhone OS 4.0 this summer.  (Source: TechSource)
Might Apple be cooking up a counter to its competitors by at last bring multi-tasking to its smartphone?

If it can't sue its rival smartphone makers out of existence, it appears that Apple plans to at least catch up to them.

According to 
AppleInsider, Apple will finally be bringing a "full-on solution" to multi-tasking with iPhone OS 4.0 which is set to debut this summer.  Presumably that means that third-party apps will finally be allowed to run in the background on the phone.  The sources were scant on details about how it would remedy performance, battery life, and security issues, but they did say that the multi-tasking would use an interface similar to that in the Mac versions of OS X.

Apple's iPhone is among the best-selling smartphones and is second in market volume only to the incredible successful Blackberries from Research in Motion.  Apple's massive developer community and gigantic collection of apps make a phone that would otherwise be seen as just beneath top hardware offerings seem like the top of the pack.

However, Apple has slipped behind the bleeding edge of the competition, even as its app offerings have flourished.  Its competitors -- Palm, Symbian, Research in Motion, and Google (makers of Android OS) – all support multi-tasking in their smartphone operating systems.  Apple's OS X distribution on the iPhone artificially prevents third-party application backgrounding (multi-tasking), only allowing push notifications as of iPhone OS 3.0.

There have been a few major exceptions.  Currently, the iPhone's phone, SMS, email, iPod, voice recorder, Nike+ apps and a handful of others can run in the background.  This means, for example, that you can use apps and play music at the same time (but only using Apple's built in music player).

Apple has previously stated that backgrounding apps represents a security risk.  The iPhone's OS kills apps when you accept calls or return to the home screen, rather than sending them to the background.  That makes it harder for spyware, adware, or viruses to run on the phone without the user's knowledge.

The security comes at a cost though -- third-party apps that are available at all times (run in the background) like instant messaging, location-aware apps, internet radio, etc. are not able to be supported unless you "jailbreak" your iPhone, running software to hack the OS and remove Apple's restrictions.

One of the big problems is that multi-tasking could hurt gaming on the iPhone if resource management isn't implemented perfectly.  Currently the iPhone rivals the PSP Go and Nintendo DSi as a mobile gaming platform.  Its smartphone rivals though have been unable to muster much gaming success -- titles tend to be limited by either inefficient multi-tasking and/or by requiring the apps to be run by abstraction layers, such as Adobe Flash/Flash Lite, Microsoft Silverlight, or Sun Java/Android Dalvik runtimes.

Despite these shortcomings, many iPhone users have demanded multi-tasking.  Multi-tasking was rumored to be coming both in iPhone OS 2.0 and iPhone OS 3.0, but never came in full form.  Thus its reasonable to be wary about whether iPhone OS 4.0 will truly bring multi-tasking to the table at last.

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RE: Hmmmm.
By Pirks on 3/11/2010 11:53:44 AM , Rating: 4
It's easy to predict what reader1 will say, something like "it was wise to disable multitasking and measure market reaction, gather feedback and then carefully design super duper multitasking system that beats anything else out there", there ya go enjoy and doubledownrate me if reader1 says something else okay? ;)

RE: Hmmmm.
By themaster08 on 3/11/2010 11:58:56 AM , Rating: 1
there ya go enjoy and doubledownrate me if reader1 says something else okay? ;)

I have no issue with what you said, and neither should anyone else. In fact I agree entirely.

RE: Hmmmm.
By EasyC on 3/11/2010 12:28:03 PM , Rating: 2
That was the first time I ever uprated Pirks. Kudos.

RE: Hmmmm.
By cochy on 3/11/2010 12:40:03 PM , Rating: 3
Too bad your uprate was canceled out by the fact that you posted. Poor pirks would have preferred you uprated in silence :)

RE: Hmmmm.
By EasyC on 3/11/2010 1:17:50 PM , Rating: 2
I never knew it worked like that lol.

RE: Hmmmm.
By djc208 on 3/11/2010 3:39:40 PM , Rating: 2
A perfectly reasonable and prudent response, and not a bad strategy. Though I'd argue it further proves the issue that Apple doesn't innovate as much as they just manage to do someone elses ideas better and make everyone think it's theirs.

However I'm sure Apple will screw it up somehow. Like all apps that want to multi-task will have to get some new, different app store approval to be multi-tasking capable which will create a whole other level of arbatrary Apple sensorship/control that no one will be able to understand.

RE: Hmmmm.
By Marlonsm on 3/11/2010 5:57:56 PM , Rating: 1
You forgot the part that Apple invented multitasking and had a secret patent on it. And will sue everybody who dared to use it before the time.

"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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