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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: for iPad as well?
By djc208 on 3/11/2010 3:29:02 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot anything that competes with services they offer on the phone itself (media players, google voice, other app stores). Anything they don't see the point in, anything that seems to offend the sensabilities of the guy or girl who's reviewing it. Hell, last week it was wi-fi finder apps. Certain "adult" apps were removed, but not all of them based on some twisted logic they made up based on dice rolls or bribes.

So I guess it's not really Big Brother in that we don't know that they're actively watching everything you do, but the only other place I know of that practices that kind of subjective sensorship is China, so I guess Apple isn't Big Brother, it's Communist China.

Nope, still doesn't make me want an iPhone.

And while I'm in rant mode, if the iPhone OS is based on OSX, which is SO secure, how come Apple's excuse for not allowing background apps is that it's a security issue. I thought there were no security issues in OS X? If the phone can't safely handle background tasks how safe is the mother desktop OS?

I can't wait for the Toyota moment to come for Apple. The day when the rest of the users realizes that Apple is just a flasher version of every other tech company out there.

Ok, I'm done, rant over

RE: for iPad as well?
By Pirks on 3/11/10, Rating: -1
RE: for iPad as well?
By djc208 on 3/11/2010 8:50:24 PM , Rating: 1
As long as Apple's strict app submission policy stays in place iPhone will keep its momentum.

I think that's an oxymoron. Why would any developer want to spend time and energy developing for a platform that might decide, with no good cause or justification, it doesn't want your software on it's product.

I imagine you'll find that just like with their bigger siblings, the more open and free OSs like Android and Windows will quickly outstrip Apple because they don't need permission from Google, or anyone else, to develop an app. Add in the much larger selection of phones and devices that are turning to it and it will be no different than with Windows vs. OS X.

YOU on the other hand are pretty well served by more niche more geeky phone like Android or WinMo.

No, I just like products that treat me like I'm smart enough to decide what is and isn't appropriate for me to look at or do with a device I'm paying large sums of money to own. Keep playing at the kiddie table, the rest of us are going to do adult stuff.

RE: for iPad as well?
By Pirks on 3/11/10, Rating: -1
RE: for iPad as well?
By dark matter on 3/12/2010 2:34:00 AM , Rating: 2
Because the average Joe is confused easily (your words) and sooner or later someone else is going to come along at doing a better job than Apple in fleecing them.

RE: for iPad as well?
By Pirks on 3/12/2010 11:58:55 AM , Rating: 1
Agreed, Apple can't be eternal leader. Even pyramids crumble eventually.

RE: for iPad as well?
By themaster08 on 3/12/10, Rating: 0
RE: for iPad as well?
By Pirks on 3/12/2010 12:04:52 PM , Rating: 1
It was not about his opinion being worthless in general, it was more from the point of view of Apple. I meant "who cares from Apple or any other big business?"

His opinion is just like mine, both are worthless for Apple or MS, the only thing that matters are opinions of a large mass of consumers, and they have already spoke with their wallets.

RE: for iPad as well?
By themaster08 on 3/13/2010 4:45:06 AM , Rating: 2
His opinion is just like mine, both are worthless for Apple or MS

Well my opinion to MS wasn't worthless, because Windows 7 was my idea!

RE: for iPad as well?
By Pirks on 3/13/2010 7:08:04 AM , Rating: 1
great now get back to work sinofsky :)))

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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