Home Apple Announces Multitasking for iPhone? Close Enough.

Apple Announces Multitasking for iPhone? Close Enough.

So before the purists go off the deep end, fuming about the iPhone OS 4.0 announcement today, let’s just concede one point – it isn’t truly multitasking. Apple announced “Multitasking” with seven key points, one of them being “Fast App Switching”, and this is what they meant for much of multitasking.

But here’s the thing. For some of the most exciting multitasking-oriented things we’ve wanted to do with our iPhones, the new OS will indeed offer true multitasking – and for that we’re fairly excited, to say the least.

Multitasking, for the most part, is handled by a double click on the home button, which pulls up a screen showing icons of all the apps currently hanging out in the background. Some, like Skype or Pandora, will actually be running, while others will simply be in a frozen state.

The multitasking feature will be available for iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch 2nd Generation starting this summer and Apple is guaranteeing that it will not only keep your device moving quickly but will work to conserve battery life. In this effort, the company has released 7 APIs to handle the “multitasking”.

Instead of allowing the application to continue running a full instance in the background, potentially clogging up the system and draining power, the OS will handle background operations for several specific processes.

[Image courtesy of GDGT.]

For other applications not using these specific background services, switching out of the app will simply freeze it in its current state for the user to return to later. Otherwise, Apple certainly nailed it as far as the types of services we were hoping to run in the background.

You want music to keep streaming through Pandora while you catch up with reading on Read It Later? You got it. How about keeping track of your bike ride across town with Map My Ride and being able to look up directions on the way? Sure! Keep Skype running in the background and get phone calls and chat notifications? Indeed. The iPhone will even complete tasks, such as uploading photos and videos, in the background – a feature sounds rather like “true” multitasking to us.

We admit, “true” multitasking or not, this fulfills many of our wishes and we’re quite excited.

The only thing we’ll have to hope for now is that the apps we want to multitask implement these new APIs. By doing multitasking this way, Apple has tried to assure that it can control the quality of the experience, but we’ll have to hope for companies to follow along and release updated versions.

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