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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 Pirks on 3/11/2010 6:31:11 PM , Rating: -1
Apple is not allowing Flash just as they do not allow all sorts of emulators
This is consistent with their "user experience is number one priority" policy which prohibits performance/battery sucking Flash crap on the platform. Average Joe doesn't want such crap on his phone, this is why iPhone is such a commercial hit. If you're a PC geek then buy yourself a geeky WinMo or Android device and be happy running Flash/Java and whatnot.
Why should any company be allowed to mandate what it's customers do with their products. Imagine a car company demanding no one has sex in their cars because someone complains about such activities
Wrong analogy. The correct one would be a car company that offers free 3G cell network downloadable pron videos on the car dashboard screen and back of the seat screens. Now who would be upset with such a nice car, eh? ;))) heheheee

RE: for iPad as well?
By dark matter on 3/12/2010 2:43:28 AM , Rating: 2
"User experience is number one priority", until of course something goes wrong with your product and then they make you sign disclaimers to keep your mouth shut to get your money back or just plain deny the problem exists.

The reason they don't have flash is because it would ruin their app store model. Perfect business strategy if you ask me. But don't believe the hyperbole about it being in the interest of the consumer.

RE: for iPad as well?
By Pirks on 3/12/2010 1:12:52 PM , Rating: 1
don't believe the hyperbole about it being in the interest of the consumer
I still think consumers benefit from it since native code/native games are faster and eat less battery than Flash crap.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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