Apple announced today that the iPhone would finally multitask on the iPhone:
“While this multitasking implementation is a big step for Apple, itâ€™s still technically not true multitasking since apps still canâ€™t remain fully functional in the background. As Steve Jobs mentioned, Appleâ€™s main concern was implementing multitasking without sacrificing battery life or system performance.
I would instead call it â€œsmartâ€ multitasking, since itâ€™s just allowing specific functions in applications to run in the background. The fast app switching feature will make it appear as if the apps always remained running in the background, so some users may not ever notice the lack of full multitasking.
Jobs also announced that multitasking would only be available for the iPhone 3GS, third-generation iPod Touch (released last fall), and the iPad. The iPad will receive the OS 4.0 update in the fall, while the iPhone will get it sometime in the summer.Â The iPhone 3G and earlier iPod Touch models simply donâ€™t have the hardware to support the feature, but thatâ€™s no great surprise.
- Background audio streaming: Allows you to run music apps like Pandora in the background. The Pandora app will also be integrated into the playback controls on the iPhoneâ€™s lock screen.
- Voice over IP (VoIP): Lets apps like Skype be able to receive calls even while your iPhone is locked.
- Background location:Â Gives turn-by-turn navigation apps like TomTom the ability to know your location when not in the app, as well as location-based services like Loopt the ability to track your location using cell tower-based positioning.
Since standard GPS uses a lot of power, Apple suggests that itâ€™s something best used in the car. Cell tower-based positioning doesnâ€™t require as much power. An arrow indicator in the status bar will tell you if an app is tracking your location, and you can also enabled and disable the feature on a per application basis.
- Push notifications: The standard notifications weâ€™ve grown to love and hate on hate iPhone. The iPhone has had push notifications for about 9 months, and in that time over 10 billion push notifications were sent.
- Local notifications: Similar to push notifications, except they donâ€™t require a server and are driven by the phone. I suspect this will be a particularly useful addition.
- Task completion: Allows apps to continue working when you navigate away. For example, youâ€™ll be able to continue loading a photo through the Flickr app while doing something else.
- Fast app switching: Allows apps to instantly store state data and use no resources when you navigate away. Itâ€™s basically the appearance of multitasking without using any system resources (other than the space required to store the state data).