In the wake of the tsunami of iPad related rumors and news both before and after it was unveiled in late January, new rumors about the next iPhone have been scarce by comparison. But that may be about to change, with various sources reporting that multitasking will finally come to the iPhone with the next major software update.
AppleInsider is reporting that “people with a proven track record in predicting Apple’s technological advances” have leaked some significant details that point to a “full-on solution” to multitasking on iPhone OS 4.0. With competitors like Palm’s WebOS and Google’s Android flaunting their multitasking in recent hardware, it was probably only a matter of time before Apple figured out a solution for the iPhone.
If the reports are true, it would silence once and for all the one major criticism of the device at long last. Apple introduced push notifications with iPhone OS 3.0 to stem some of the complaints, but ultimately that solution only made things more complicated, since the software is only capable of displaying one notification at a time, which limits its usefulness.
Of course, since iPhone OS has its roots in Mac OS X to begin with, you wouldn’t think that multitasking should have taken Apple four generations to figure out in the first place. The current iPhone OS 3.x software is a “fully preemptive multitasking operating system, but it artificially restricts apps (other than specific ones bundled with the system by Apple) from running in the background” -- for instance, the ability to leave the Phone app during a call while entering another app such as Maps, or playing music via the iPod app while reading e-mail or browsing the web.
Multitasking on the iPhone is not a technical problem, but rather one of battery life and the ability to optimize resources, which Apple has not been shy about stating publicly. Jailbreak users already have the ability to install software via Cydia or Rock Your Phone which will allow multitasking on the device as well.
If it’s true that Apple will introduce multitasking in iPhone OS 4.0 -- presumably with a new hardware model in June as they’ve done for the last three years -- the only challenge will be how to implement it in a user-friendly way without consuming further battery resources. Apple, we have faith in you… bring it on!