Multitask your iPhone

Apple will be introducing a multitasking solution through the handset’s 4.0 software update that will allow several party apps to run simultaneously and in the background.

People with a proven track record in predicting Apple’s technological advances tell AppleInsider that the Cupertino-based company has developed a “full-on solution” to multitasking on the iPhone OS but offered no specifics on how the technology would optimize resource conservation and battery life — two of the most critical issues surrounding the matter, alongside security.

Read the full report from Apple Insider here

The system’s phone, SMS, email, iPod, voice recorder, Nike+, and certain other bundled apps can continue in the background while another app is launched. However, third party titles obtained from the App Store (including apps from Apple, such as Remote or iDisk) can not be launched at the same time.

This behavior is prevented by the iPhone OS’ security model, which is designed to close the current app whenever the user returns to the Home screen or accepts an incoming call. This design prevents apps from being able to run in the background without the user knowing, and erasing any real potential for spyware, adware and viruses.

This isn’t a technical problem for the multitasking iPhone OS, but does introduce new issues for users. Because the iPhone OS doesn’t present a conventional windowing user interface, launching multiple apps requires the addition of a new interface mechanism that allows users to intuitively switch between apps without introducing too much new complexity.

Installing lots of background processes will inevitably eat up battery life and performance, so adding multitasking features that are valuable without creating a mess for users to deal with requires solving a variety of non-obvious problems that are very apparent on other mobile platforms that claim to deliver functional multitasking.

Potential solutions include saving the state of and parking the foreground app, or scaling down the execution of a background app, so that multiple app execution does not overwhelm the limited resources available on mobile devices. Either one would allow the user to quickly switch between running apps without seeing much downside. Today’s iPhone OS requires a brief layover to the Home screen before jumping from the current app to launch another one.

More system RAM and faster processors will also help to improve the experience of users who want to quickly switch between multiple apps.

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