No Multitasking for 3rd Party Apps?

John Gruber skims through the iPhone updated HIG (Human Interface Guidelines) and reveals the following:

Only one iPhone application can run at a time, and third-party applications never run in the background. This means that when users switch to another application, answer the phone, or check their email, the application they were using quits. It’s important to make sure that users do not experience any negative effects because of this reality. In other words, users should not feel that leaving your iPhone application and returning to it later is any more difficult than switching among applications on a computer.

Will there be a function to preserve state between App uses? (The way iTunes remembers what song you were playing and where you were in that song) Or will each App have to load fresh each time? (The way photos gives you the album chooser, rather than the last photo/state screen upon launch).

Treo users have been stymied for years by lack of true preemptive multitasking, while Windows Mobile has been criticized for letting Apps pile up like splattered bugs on an speeding windshield. But functionality like background music playing, downloads, data (i.e. email checking now that it's push) seem like no-brain must have'ems. What's the deal Apple? And what do you think?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

No Multitasking for 3rd Party Apps?


Yup. We'll have to see what the early beta devs come out with, but there seems like there has to be some sort of backgrounding tasking to make a large swathe of apps useful, no?

Gruber follows up:
To be fair, I don’t think many of Apple’s first-party apps run in the background, either. The Phone, SMS, Clock, and Mail apps do. Or at least they have helper app background tasks that do. But the other ones all seem to quit when you go to the home screen — you don’t really notice because they launch fast, quit fast, and save automatically.

Nope. No multitasking. It's the responsibility of the app to somehow remember where it was, and when starting up again, reconstruct things to where it left off.
But if you watch the WWDC08 Keynote address, you'll see their solution to background processes, at about 54:30. For a sound, text, or icon badge, there's no background nonApple iPhone process that does this. Instead, your servers call to Apple's servers to push the message to the phone.