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iPhone iOS 4.0 multitasking is horrible: Apple blew it

Developers must add multitasking to Apple's latest iPhone operating system update

Article comments

Alright Apple, you win. You don't really want multitasking on the iPhone, and iOS4's halfhearted attempt proves it.

iOS4's multitasking is a mess of a feature. Yes, it lets you listen to Pandora while using other apps. Yes, it lets you freeze games that support multitasking, such as Plants vs. Zombies, while you take care of more important tasks. But in exchange for those perks, some of the iPhone's elegance is lost, and the advantages you'd gain from true multitasking aren't there either.

Let's be clear about what iOS4's multitasking is: Rather than run multiple apps at the same time, iOS4 freezes the ones that aren't in use, with the exception of certain functions. Music, for instance, can play in the background, VoIP apps can answer calls and GPS apps can give directions.

But most apps won't do anything except go to sleep, which means one of the classic tricks of multitasking, loading one task while you perform another, is not available unless the developer adds that function under a special task completion API. Some apps, such as Flickr, may take advantage of this feature for large file transfers, but others won't. Waiting for a YouTube video to buffer over a 3G connection? It won't go anywhere unless you're staring at the loading screen.

Then there's the issue I've seen acknowledged most often: Developers must add multitasking functionality themselves, and the majority have yet to do so. This will fix itself with time, but the lack of support dampens the initial impact of iOS4's marquee feature.

What bothers me the most, however, is the sloppy implementation of iPhone multitasking. Every time you open an app, it gets added to the tray, and the only way to close it is by pressing and holding any app icon, then clicking the top-left corner of the apps you want to close. If you don't micromanage, the tray quickly becomes overrun with clutter, making it hard to find the apps you really need.

When Apple chief executive Steve Jobs introduced iOS4, he said this: "When it comes to multitasking, if a user has to use a task manager, they (the developer) blew it." I suppose Jobs was referring to Windows Task Manager, which you use when all hell breaks loose on a PC. But taken literally, iOS4 has a task manager too, and all hell breaks lose if you don't use it. This time, Apple blew it.


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Paul said: Also iPhones multitasking makes it impossible to write certain types of apps altogether Read about it httpwwwdev-smartcomp75

Eric W said: Is apple is watching this thread Apple converts YouTube to what ipad can play On Mac I start a video pause it and wait for the entire video to load so its not stopstart While waiting I can do something else iPad does not multitask I have to stay on the youtube app with the video pausedwatching it load With 42 if I start a youtube can I pause itgo do something else and will 42 multitasking allow it to load in the background upon which I can return to it and watch

Giraffe-O said: I totally agree Performance under OS is horrible for all apps even typing in most text fields or notes

Selvakumar Manickam said: Multi-tasking means I can perform multiple tasks via apps at the same time What iOS does is put most apps into sleep mode or freeze it while running one app in the foreground This is called fast-app-switch not multi-tasking Apple is full of BS

iLuv said: I think apple is fantastic in general but agree that the multitasking feature is flawed It definitely needs a toggle and individual app toggles much like the location service so you can choose which apps you want to use this feature

scottaudiosc said: What I dont understand is how this was messed up so badly Jailbreakers have been multitasking successfully for at least 2 years Besides that proswitcher and multiflow allow you to select what is backgrounded by a simple double tap on home and the interfaces blow iOS4 out of the water Apple really dropped the ball on this one

Tomasz said: My HD2 does real multitasking by default same on my Android phone Soon iMacs will feature the same upgrade as iOS4

Tomasz said: Well Steve Jokes would probably say that real multitasking is obsolete and no one wants it Just as people cant see hear smell eat and walk at the same time Apple was never up to the Jobs with their iOS

David said: I have one thing to say about multitasking It sucks It has no toggle to turn it off cause i have no use for it I mean its common sense to put a toggle on it cause it drains the battery so much faster than normal

Grasshopper said: Its not possible with the new 40 OS to do the following on the iPod Touch Run Skype amp Cisco WebEx Meeting at the same time If I start Skype and then start WebEx to join a meeting and have WebEx to call my Skype on the iPod Touch It couldnt be done Switching from WebEx Meeting to Skype would exit the meeting Or trying to let WebEx to call my Skype account on the iPod would not be possible since Skype is sleeping I dont see a use of the Multitask until all the apps support it

Rob said: I dont think Multitasking itself was poorly implemented but its management definitely was At the time of closing your app you should have a choice of running it to background or just close Having to manage all the suspended apps is an annoyance especially when you have to hold an icon until you get the red dash then run through and close everything off one by one

cynik said: True multitasking on a single core CPU is slow i think we all agree on that Apple has a plan here give the developers the ability to decide how important their application is and then they can decide how important it is to run as much of it as they need too instead of just all of itI think that is going to pay off I know in my app i dont need to keep doing all the things im doing when im swapped most of what im doing is ui anyway the user wont see thatIm happy with it

JRA said: HeyNo news here Apple when they introduced iOS 4 said that developers would need to reprogram to take advantage of the iOS multitasking APIs and that the APIs only supported certain processFUD

KnowsMoreTHANYou said: KnowsMoreThenYou Perhaps when you decide to flame someones review you ought to know how to spell and how to use the words in the language youre attempting to communicate inotherwise you just look like an idiot

Christopher Cooper said: So Apple multitasking sucks because devs fail to implement multitasking in their apps Thats like saying your HDTV sucks because stations fail to broadcast in HD

An Engineer said: shawn The multitasking does take place in the kernel - there is another layer in userspace which non-system apps are suspendedresumed by Stop spreading misinformation

jailbroke said: Ive never understood this whole support for multitasking in the API issue The underlying OS is BSD which has exceptionally good support for multi-tasking and pausing tasks A few simple jail break apps show that this can easily be exposed to a CLI or a GUI I double click my home button on my 31 3GS and I get a coverflow of running apps with close buttons for each app Backgrounder can be used to even prevent iOS from killing apps

dsd con said: stop crying it does what its supposed to and you cant deal with it let me guess you must love the droid lmao

shawn said: amacgeekreal multitasking is done in the kernel not in the userspace It should be transparent to the user space Apples multitasking is rediculous as it seems

amacgeek said: You totally contradict yourselfFirst you claim Apple blew but then you go on to say that a given process cant complete unless the dev adds the function under a special task completion APISo is it the coders fault or Apples Seems to me the prob is with the developer Apple provided the API You said so yourself What more is Apple to do Write the code for every app too

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