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Third-party multitasking finally makes an appearance on the iPhone

It's been just over a year since Apple last held an event touting the latest and greatest version of its iPhone OS. In March 2009, the big features that Apple brought to the table with iPhone OS 3.0 included copy/paste, push notifications, and push notifications (to make up for the lack of third-party multitasking).

Today, Apple is back at it again with iPhone OS 4.0. As has been widely speculated for the quite some time now, Apple is finally enabling third-party multitasking on the iPhone OS (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad). As the rumors suggested, double tapping the home button now brings up a “multitasking dock” which shows up to four programs running at once (here's a video of multitasking in action). The user then selects the application they want and "boom", you're there. As you would expect, the current application state is saved as you're double tapping in and out of apps.

For a demo, Apple's Scott Forstall showed off an app that has probably been the poster child for the multitasking movement on the iPhone: Pandora. Previously, if you wanted to listen to streaming music in Pandora while performing another task, it wasn't possible (without jailbreaking). The new multitasking APIs of iPhone OS 4.0 now make what seems like a no-brainer feature possible. As an added bonus, Pandora can now be controlled from the lock screen.

Multitasking also now integrates with background audio and VoIP. As a result, users can now receive Skype calls without running the program in the foreground and "exiting" the program will still allow you to receive calls. A locked iPhone can also receive Skype calls.

IPhone OS 4.0 will bring 100 new features for the end-user along with 1,500 new APIs for developers. Some of the more mundane features include iBooks, in-app SMS, home screen wallpapers (as seen on the iPad), Bluetooth keyboard support (another iPad donation), and “tap to focus” for video.

Another feature that has been asked for is a Folder feature for iPhone OS 4.0. This allows you to group similarly-themed apps together instead of having to sprawl across pages and pages of apps. You can name the folders whatever you want, and place them anywhere including on the dock. 

Moving on, another rumor that has been confirmed is a universal inbox for the Mail app. Mail from multiple accounts (Gmail, Yahoo!, Exchange, etc.) can now be viewed in a single unified inbox. Other new features of the Mail app include multiple Exchange accounts, fast inbox switching, threaded messages, and the ability to open attachments with their respective apps. 

Apple is also looking to court more business users with better data protection, mobile device management, Exchange Server 2010 support, and SSL VPN support.

For the gamers out there, Apple is really trying to bring gaming and social networking together. The new social gaming network, Game Center, is taking a page from Microsoft's book (re: Xbox 360) with friend invites, matchmaking, achievements, and leaderboards.

In another move that's new for Apple, the company is introducing iAd which allows developers to quickly and efficiently delivers ads to users through apps. Apple will host and sells the ads -- it will also take a 40 percent cut of the revenue in return. The ads are completely interactive and use HTML5 -- Apple is really pushing for the industry to move past Adobe Flash. Apple's purchase of Quattro Wireless now makes sense.

IPhone and iPod touch users will get the update this Summer, however, there are a few caveats. IPhone 3GS and 3G iPod touch users will get the full update. IPhone 3G owners and 2G iPod touch users will get a reduced feature set (no multitasking) due to lower hardware specifications. First generation iPhone and iPod touch users are just SOL. IPad users will have to wait until the Fall for the update.

Other items of note today include that fact that has sold an additional 150,000 iPads since launch day bringing the total number sold to 450,000. In addition, 600,000 iBooks have been downloaded and over 3.5 million iPad apps (3,500 iPad-specific apps are currently available in the iTunes App Store) have been downloaded since launch day.

Steve Jobs likes to talk numbers, and he continued adding that 50 million iPhones have been sold to date, while 35 million iPod touches have been sold.

With iPhone OS 4.0, Apple is looking to maintain its lead over Microsoft, Google, and Palm in the smartphone OS arena, while at the same time nip at the heels of RIM. Considering that Microsoft chose to go with Apple's "old" approach to copy/paste and push notifications (instead of true multitasking) with Windows Phone 7, it should be interesting to see what Microsoft's response will be now that Apple has charted a new course.

With iPhone OS 4.0, Android, and webOS now supporting these two basic features that a lot of mobile users today simply take for granted, Microsoft might have to rethink its strategy going forward.



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Great Scott!
By MrBlastman on 4/8/2010 1:44:17 PM , Rating: 1
Apple has come up with the latest, greatest creation! Multi-tasking on their iPhones! Everyone rejoice. Jobs has spoken. Jobs is good. Jobs provides. We will all revel in his glory and bask in his odor as we frolic beneath his toes in our bath of brilliant design.

Multitasking has come! Multitasking will save us all! We are all ever grateful f...

*WHAM*

i-fan drops dead

Great. Apple is releasing multitasking. Took you long enough. Go jump in a river Jobs.




RE: Great Scott!
By ksherman on 4/8/2010 1:59:28 PM , Rating: 4
Be serious, its not about having it or not having it, the issue is mostly a good implementation of multitasking at the OS level. Windows Mobile was horrible, Android gets around its issues with third-party apps, some drain the battery super fast etc.

Apple's implementation might bring a useful and effective way to multitask.

Just sayin' its not about whether or not the iPhone had the feature or not, its about making it work right. Remember, its a PHONE not a desktop computer.


RE: Great Scott!
By Anoxanmore on 4/8/2010 2:09:04 PM , Rating: 2
Well it does relate to one of my favourite lines in a song.

quote:
There is room for two inside and I'm not breathing for you.


Yay for multitasking. :)


RE: Great Scott!
By LRonaldHubbs on 4/8/2010 2:36:23 PM , Rating: 2
There's room inside for two and I'm not grieving for you.


RE: Great Scott!
By Anoxanmore on 4/8/2010 3:10:18 PM , Rating: 2
....
mutters Shadio dogs...

<3


RE: Great Scott!
By deputc26 on 4/8/10, Rating: 0
RE: Great Scott!
By GiantPandaMan on 4/8/2010 6:40:22 PM , Rating: 3
This isn't Anandtech.


RE: Great Scott!
By Gul Westfale on 4/9/2010 9:20:32 AM , Rating: 2
http://www.amazon.com/Supernova-ebook/dp/B003G2ZI8...

something to load up your ipads with :)


RE: Great Scott!
By HotFoot on 4/8/2010 3:08:07 PM , Rating: 5
If it's just an expensive phone, then fine. However, it doesn't have to be just a phone. I have a N900, which is nearly identical hardware to the 3GS, but it's not marketed as a phone - it's a hand-held computer. With that philosophy, the phone is just a feature and it's not in the philosophy of the design to have everything else crippled when it doesn't have to be.

Suddenly it's not ridiculous or (gasp) a huge security concern to have root access on your portable device. I don't buy the closed ecosystem and artificial limitations. I expect more. Clearly, though, I'm in the minority.


RE: Great Scott!
By msheredy on 4/8/2010 6:52:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Suddenly it's not ridiculous or (gasp) a huge security concern to have root access on your portable device.


Who said the apps would have root access? That's what the new APIs are for. I may be wrong but I highly doubt Apple would just let that happen.

quote:
I don't buy the closed ecosystem and artificial limitations.


Again how's this a "closed ecosystem?" Game devs have to design around console APIs. You yourself are free to download the SDK and develop yourself so please explain how this is closed...


RE: Great Scott!
By themaster08 on 4/9/2010 2:06:20 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I have a N900, which is nearly identical hardware to the 3GS

Except has a better camera, physical keyboard, expandable memory and most importantly, it's cheaper :)

In my opinion, Maemo 5 is miles ahead of iPhone OS, in fact, I think it's the most advanced smartphone OS to date.

Lack of advertising and complcated UI (for the masses at least) really let a device like this down from becoming a huge seller.


RE: Great Scott!
By HotFoot on 4/9/2010 11:03:16 AM , Rating: 2
Oh absolutely I'm a very happy customer, and the operating system is probably my favourite thing about this device. I do wish they'd get a little more attention, if nothing else so some of the ideas would trickle out to other higher-volume smart phones.


RE: Great Scott!
By themaster08 on 4/10/2010 1:59:05 AM , Rating: 2
Likewise, but knowing Nokia they'll have something up their sleeve. The OS just blows away the competition. It really is a mobile computer. You can even install Google Chrome if you like http://meegoportal.com/?p=90

It's just a huge shame that people are unaware of it.


RE: Great Scott!
By zhopa on 4/8/2010 8:37:07 PM , Rating: 2
Huh?
Multitasking on my IPAQ WM works just fine (one of the very few things that WM does well).
It's is Apple that is used to doing a half-ass job on things.
If it didn't, I'd probably would have an iPhone in my pocket.


RE: Great Scott!
By clovell on 4/9/2010 5:21:47 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah - and Palm's webOS has been doing it well since June of last year. Give credit where it's due, eh?


RE: Great Scott!
By zmatt on 4/10/2010 4:08:20 PM , Rating: 2
Do you own a WinMo phone? I do, multitasking is fine. You just go to your applications and select the app again and it comes up right where you left off. You can even open up task manager to view the processes and resources just like on the desktop. The old WinMo way was great for people who actually wanted to get work done. The iPhone is a toy. M$ was stupid to try and copy Apple's approach, now they will suffer in sales and Android will take back all the market share.


RE: Great Scott!
By captainBOB on 4/8/2010 2:05:41 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget the folders, and the ability to have multiple exchange accounts, in app sms (a very nice addition), etc.

Its about frakking time... maybe I won't go to Android, all depends on the hardware now.


RE: Great Scott!
By xmichaelx on 4/9/2010 3:57:12 PM , Rating: 2
I had no idea the iPhone didn't have folders before reading this article. As an Android user, I can't imagine using the phone without them (and, of course, music running in the background of EVERYTHING).


RE: Great Scott!
By pugster on 4/8/2010 2:24:30 PM , Rating: 1
What's the big deal, iphone/itouch users can't multitask anyways.


RE: Great Scott!
By 67STANG on 4/8/2010 2:25:15 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
iPhone OS 4 will work with iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and the second- and third-generation iPod touch this summer, and with iPad in the fall. Not all features are compatible with all devices. For example, multitasking is available only with iPhone 3GS and the third-generation iPod touch (32GB and 64GB models from late 2009).

WTF! You can only get multi-tasking with the 3GS . All of us folks with the 3G are SOL I guess. Trying to get me to buy a new phone for the 1 feature I was waiting for is lame. Thanks for making my iPhone or Droid decision easier.


RE: Great Scott!
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 4/8/2010 2:30:50 PM , Rating: 2
I understand their decision though. The 3G has 128MB of RAM. The 3GS has 256MB. Multitasking would probably be craptastic on the 3G.


RE: Great Scott!
By 67STANG on 4/8/2010 2:42:50 PM , Rating: 4
Strange... I have friends with jail-broken 3G phones and they multi-task just fine... This is forced obsolescence. Period.


RE: Great Scott!
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 4/8/10, Rating: 0
RE: Great Scott!
By ksherman on 4/8/2010 2:55:09 PM , Rating: 2
No kidding, look at the Android product lineup.


RE: Great Scott!
By JediJeb on 4/8/2010 2:54:46 PM , Rating: 2
As long as they are in service, or else unlock them all once they stop putting out updates so other people can. If you aren't going to support something anymore it should become open source. Just like Ford doesn't make parts any longer for a Model T, but other companies do to fill the niche market that still exists.


RE: Great Scott!
By omnicronx on 4/8/2010 3:49:45 PM , Rating: 1
What are you smoking.. Name me one phone that has EVER been supported for 3 years of updates (let alone made opensource after support had ended).

You are bying a proprietary closed source product, get that through your head. If you want openess, buy an Android Phone, but don't make it out as though you did not know what you were getting into buying a closed source product.


RE: Great Scott!
By soloman02 on 4/8/2010 8:06:37 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
What are you smoking.. Name me one phone that has EVER been supported for 3 years of updates (let alone made opensource after support had ended). You are bying a proprietary closed source product, get that through your head. If you want openess, buy an Android Phone, but don't make it out as though you did not know what you were getting into buying a closed source product.


RIM still supports their phones for at least 3 years. The 8800 was released in February 2007. The latest OS was made available on February 21 2010. Three years of OS support.

http://www.engadget.com/2007/02/12/rims-blackberry...
http://forums.crackberry.com/f33/newest-os-8800-v4...


RE: Great Scott!
By 67STANG on 4/8/2010 3:04:33 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know... maybe for as long as they wanted me to continue making purchases from iTunes and their app store?

Do they actually think I'm going to buy a newer product from them when I see how they treat customers with products that they feel are outdated? Sorry.

I'll be selling my deactivated iPhone on eBay to pay off the remainder of my AT&T contract. I guess the bright side is that I won't have many dropped calls anymore.


RE: Great Scott!
By corduroygt on 4/12/2010 1:02:08 PM , Rating: 2
You will be able to install 4.0 on your phone and use all of its features except for the multitasking feature. Your phone is not obsolete, it actually has more features than when you bought it, so why are you complaining?


RE: Great Scott!
By aharris on 4/8/2010 5:51:05 PM , Rating: 3
My jailbroken 3G with Backgrounder (the aforementioned multitasking app) 'mostly' works. It's by no means the same level of multitasking that Apple sounds like they want to implement, and the memory usage is absolutely a key factor in why Pandora is the only app I really use for multitasking.

...though even Pandora crashes frequently due to a lack of memory when I'm running it in the background. I hate forced obsolescence just as much as the rest of us, but it's a necessary evil in the tech industry.


RE: Great Scott!
By rocky12345 on 4/8/2010 11:58:16 PM , Rating: 2
maybe people expect support because those 2 year old iphone 3g models are still under contract for another year if the customer got a 3 year contract. Also you can still buy the 3g as a new phone so I don't know if I just bought one I sure would be pissed if the next day the support stopped. If this is the case all phone companies need to stop selling them pretty much now & toss them out...


RE: Great Scott!
By PrinceGaz on 4/8/2010 2:55:13 PM , Rating: 4
Agreed, but I must admit I was not at all surprised the much-rumored third-party multi-tasking support in iPhone OS 4.x would be limited to those devices with 256MB of memory, simply to avoid potential problems with apps crashing due to insufficient memory on those with 128MB (like my iTouch 2nd gen).

People who jailbreak know the potential problems multi-tasking may cause especially on 128MB models, whereas normal Apple customers just expect everything to work, and everything is likely not to work if they start multi-tasking anything heavy-duty on 128MB devices unaware of just how limited on memory it is to start with.

Apple made the right call here with iPhone OS 4.x and 128MB devices. Those of us with those devices who want to multi-task and are aware of the pitfalls can always fall back on talented guys in the community to help us out.


RE: Great Scott!
By HrilL on 4/8/2010 4:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
Makes sense to not include it even if it would work fine. Most of our 2 year contracts are up or will be by the time the 4th gen is release. I bet At&t also suggested to Apple that they should not include it for the older phones.

Though I think this is complete hog wash. Jailbreaking is the only way to go. Apple always does things like this. They add software features that can run on older devices but won't let them because they want more sales of their new hardware.


RE: Great Scott!
By aharris on 4/8/2010 6:01:19 PM , Rating: 1
Or because the new features would run like crap on old hardware? Aero limitations for computers without dedicated GPUs, anyone?

http://tiny.cc/7elf5

There's a reason you don't see those^ running Windows 7, although I saw a few try to run XP and it wasn't pretty.


RE: Great Scott!
By genzai on 4/8/2010 7:48:02 PM , Rating: 3
Well actually i have a 3G and i use jailbreak back-grounding and yes, it does work and i thank god for it but...

My phone creeps to a crawl very often, so i have been waiting very anxiously for an updated hardware set as is supposed to come with the next iPhone. 3GS is also a LOT faster when i have used it compared to my phone but now with the next version around the corner i will skip the S.

Also of note is that some of the apps i run most in the background tend to be larger memory users, like skype, ooTunes, etc. Not only does this cause the phone to run frustratingly slow, but once it runs out of memory it just closes an app for you without any notice.

In any case, while i have enjoyed having slow multitasking than none at all, i can understand why it wont be a sanctioned feature on pre 3GS hardware cause it runs pretty crappy.
g\


RE: Great Scott!
By ksherman on 4/8/2010 2:59:08 PM , Rating: 2
I have an iPhone 3G, which already runs INCREDIBLY slow, and as I was watching the new features roll in, I'm pretty sure my phone curled up in the corner and cried.

Now, new hardware!!! Even the screenshots from the presentation showed the current screen resolution and everything looked very very cramped.

I was also hoping for some innovative "Home" screen widgets, like agenda feeds from the Calendar, email previews, call logs or something similar. Would also have been nice to see shortcuts to oft-used-but-buried settings (Bluetooth, I'm looking at you...).


RE: Great Scott!
By omnicronx on 4/8/2010 3:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
CPU is also a deal breaker too, the Cortex A8 found in the 3GS is much faster than the 3G. If RAM was the only issue, there is no reason they could not have implemented multitasking, they could have just limited the multiple apps to two, not four.. My guess is half the RAM, and almost half the CPU speed makes the 3G less than ideal for multitasking.

As for those saying multitasking works fine on their Jailbroken 3G, its not even close to seamless, expect Apples solution to be, or very very close.


RE: Great Scott!
By T2k on 4/9/2010 2:08:03 AM , Rating: 2
Brandon,

it's the CPU, not (only) the amount of RAM - though several Android or WinMo phone does multitasking just fine with less than 256MB and it's really a typical lame crap from Apple if iPOS needs at least 256MB memory, ROFL...

...but 3GS is *significantly* (~50%) faster than 3G when it comes to CPU - and in ARM world that's a LOT, trust me.


RE: Great Scott!
By MadMan007 on 4/8/2010 2:31:07 PM , Rating: 3
If you don't give your anual tithe to The Church of Apple you don't get the latest cool update. Pretty simple really, and all your fault! For shame!


RE: Great Scott!
By cmdrdredd on 4/8/2010 8:21:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
WTF! You can only get multi-tasking with the 3GS . All of us folks with the 3G are SOL I guess. Trying to get me to buy a new phone for the 1 feature I was waiting for is lame. Thanks for making my iPhone or Droid decision easier.


Yep. Once my contract runs out from ATT I'm going to the nearest Verizon store and going to buy 2 new Droid phones.


RE: Great Scott!
By eddieroolz on 4/8/2010 5:41:03 PM , Rating: 2
iAds. Come on, the name is just completely lame...


RE: Great Scott!
By aharris on 4/8/2010 6:04:45 PM , Rating: 2
The Il iAd (Want to learn more about the Illiad and The Odyssey? Click here: iAd !) and The Odyssey.


RE: Great Scott!
By alanore on 4/9/2010 2:08:40 PM , Rating: 2
Its an anagram of Aids, iAds will infect your iphone/ipad apps.

What I see is happening is:
Free apps will now have annoying iAds.
Cheap apps will probably start integrating iAds to generate more revenue.
There will be cheap version with ads, and a more expensive version without.
Expensive apps will have a slightly cheaper ad supported version.

So either way Apple benefits and users suffers. The more ads the users see/click the more money Apple makes. The more money users spend on the more expensive ad free apps the more money Apple makes.


RE: Great Scott!
By soydios on 4/8/2010 7:23:06 PM , Rating: 2
iFan last year: "Multitasking is unnecessary! Jobs says so!"
iFan tomorrow: "Multitasking is awesome! Jobs says so!"


RE: Great Scott!
By flurazepam on 4/8/2010 7:53:18 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Great Scott!
By dtm4trix on 4/9/2010 2:10:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Apple has come up with the latest, greatest creation! Multi-tasking on their iPhones! Everyone rejoice. Jobs has spoken. Jobs is good. Jobs provides. We will all revel in his glory and bask in his odor as we frolic beneath his toes in our bath of brilliant design. Multitasking has come! Multitasking will save us all! We are all ever grateful f... *WHAM* i-fan drops dead Great. Apple is releasing multitasking. Took you long enough. Go jump in a river Jobs.


A "f&*king" men

Jobs needs to take a long walk off a short pier with his holier then thou attitude.


"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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