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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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By textkills on 3/24/2010 3:42:14 AM , Rating: 2
Texting while driving: Why do we do it?
By Dan Blacharski, TextKills.com contributor

[TEXTKILLS.COM - March 23,2010] Everybody knows it’s a bonehead move, but people still do it. Texting while driving is still regrettably common on US streets and highways, and it has been the cause of innumerable near-misses and more than a few accidents, including a deadly train crash in California that killed 25 people. We tend to take driving a car for granted, and think nothing of taking our eyes off the road to do any number of activities that could wait for later.

What’s even more disturbing is that public employees whose office is behind the wheel text while driving. The train engineer, who was distracted by text messages at the time of the tragic Chatsworth, California accident, was not the only public employee to ever put the public at risk due to this reckless practice. Only recently, a Washington, DC bus driver was caught texting while driving by a passenger armed with a cell phone camera. Although the driver was fired, he does have the right under union contract to file a grievance. We can only hope that the driver has enough common sense to look for another line of work. A bus driver in San Antonio, Texas was also caught on camera texting, and subsequently ramming his bus into an SUV. The Department of Transportation has recently announced guidance to prohibit commercial drivers from texting while driving, subjecting them to civil or criminal penalties.

Prominent celebrities and lawmakers have stepped up to raise public awareness and call for legislation to deal with the situation. Oprah Winfrey, on her popular television show, aired an episode featuring people who have lost loved ones to cell phone-driving related crashes, and she has set up a section of her web site to encourage people to take a pledge to make their cars a “no phone zone”. Several states have enacted legislation to forbid talking on a cell phone or sending text messages while driving, and Federal safety regulators have also created a set of guidelines to encourage more states to pass similar laws.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 6,000 people died in 2008 because of a crash that occurred when the driver was distracted, and more than 500,000 suffered injuries. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws banning texting while driving, and seven states have passed laws banning use of any handheld device while driving. There is currently legislation in the Senate that would bar all texting while driving across the board.

Just how dangerous is it? First and foremost, texting while driving just doesn’t pass the “common sense” test, but Car and Driver decided to demonstrate that it’s a bad idea once and for all, and compare driver’s reactions while they are texting against while they have been drinking. Academic studies conducted by simulators have already shown that texting while driving is a bad idea, but Car and Driver conducted the only live test, renting an open taxiway at an airport and equipping drivers with smart phones with full keypads. The results were astounding, showing that drivers that were texting were even more impaired than drivers who had been drinking.

Talking on a cell phone or sending a text seems like a simple enough task, and it is. But the fact is, doing so distracts us while we are driving, and in the case of texting, requires us to take our eyes off the road while we send and receive those friendly little messages. It may seem harmless at first to send a cute message to your friend about last night’s “Simpson’s” episode, but remember, the results could be devastating.

What do you think? Care to Comment?




"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone














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