Image by Thomas Hawk via Flickr
With the announcement of the coming OS 4.0 for the iPhone we seem to be finally getting Multi-tasking. There was a collective sigh of relief from the geeks, and a hurried re-organising from the hater's who saw the lack of multi-tasking as the iPhone's great sin against tech-kind. Now the only issue Apple has left is the Adobe question, and Mr Jobs is happy to give a "No" as the answer. So at least the hater's have something to focus on.
As a long time Win-Mo/HTC user, I'm disappointed that Apple has caved in to the pressure, and are poised to drop one of the best features of the iPhone platform, the lack of Multi-tasking. Stopping third party Apps from multi-tasking is one of the key features that has made iPhone the first stable smart-phone, and allowed the smart-phone to reach beyond business and into the consciousness of the mass user base.
Now, yes, the iPhone has always been able to multi-task, that is why you can listen to the iPod App while you Tweet, web surf, or check-in with Foursquare. It has just been restricted to the core function Apps of the device. What this gave us was something that other smart-phones dreamed about, or took lots of micro-memory management to achieve, a stable device that could make and receive phone calls and the odd email. Not to mention lasting a days usage, and I could go on and on (and often do).
With all the things that the iPhone does right, I really believe that the "no multi-tasking" is the reason the whole platform is successful. This is one of those cases where stability and function win out over features. I mean, regardless of the hype, the iPhone was successful without features like cut and paste, which was standard on smart-phones before the iPhone. So the platforms success was more about the things it didn't do and how that impacted on the stability of the core functions, than how it pandered to the Geek few. Really, that is what Android is for.
So where are we at now? Maybe Apple have worked out the great smart-phone problem, and we are about get our cake and be able to eat it at the same time. Gizmodo.com.au has a great post "How Multi-tasking works in iPhone OS 4.0" which explains nicely how Apple looks like they're going to run multi-tasking on the iPhone. I'm still worried that this could break the useability of the core functions of the phone, or that many Apps will need to be updated to work properly with multi-tasking, due the fact that they had never needed to worry about memory management before.
In the end I guess I shouldn't be too concerned, this is Apple after all. We will all love the result, regardless of the outcome. And really, what are the other choices?
...if it isn't Broken, listen to the Geeks, they know how to mess it up.