Multitask-Masters: No AIM Loophole




As part of his piece on the continuing confusion surrounding the $99 iPhone SDK program acceptance/pending/rejection letters, Daring Fireball's John Gruber also dropped this very interesting nugget about the equally continuing and confusing situation surrounding the apparent Apple ban on multitasking and background apps:

[A] source confirmed to me that the iPhone AIM client AOL demoed during the iPhone Roadmap event does not cheat by continuing to run in the background — it quits when you switch to another app, but doesn’t log you out of AIM automatically. Such a client can’t notify you of IM messages from the background (a la the way the iPhone notifies of you SMS messages), but when you switch back to the AIM app, messages you missed should appear. Be wary of claims that “An app that does X is impossible without background processing.”

If accurate then that, as they say, is that in terms of any hope for multitasking apps before June. If Apple didn't grant AOL "special dispensation", they certainly won't give any to Johnny "Next Big Social Perpetual Ping App".

But is a non-background running AIM of any use to you? A welcome break from the constant connection demands of IM? A way to keep AIM second class to an eventual Mobile-iChat Touch app? Smart thinking on Apple's part or just a train wreck in the making?

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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

Multitask-Masters: No AIM Loophole


Its hilarious. Only Apple could have felt this is a good solution. What's next - all your phone calls going to voice mail until you switch on your phone? (Visual voice mail of course, so this would be a cool feature, and Apple could tout a year's standby time)

One that's designed to keep AT&T's SMS charge-tards happy?
I agree with Hockenberry in that I see this as being an early limitation that Apple will probably relax or create a condition for in the future. They're serious about gaining market share, and have been surprisingly (for them!) open to adjusting course with things iPhone.

AIM on Sprint in the pre-vision days was a WAP based website that keptyou logged in until you selected logout, even if you left the webbrowser. This was not a multitasking thing... in other words an AIM app on the iphone would not need to be a multitasker. You would log in and stay logged in when leaving the app via a tracker held at aol maybe with some sort of away or paused message or maybe not away with you selecting an option to get an sms or something when you get im'ed
in other words AIM doesn't need to be running in the background

one more thing, using the aim principle above, you could have an app semi multitask via a web connection. then your apps are always online and almost Adobe AIR or Google Gears like...

AIM wouldn't need to run in the background if there were, like there are on Palm and WinMo, APIs for dealing with incoming sms messages. On those devices, an incoming text with specific bits in it would be able to bring up the chat client and have it re-start the conversation.
Sadly, no such API exists for the iPhone, so far as I know.