Daily Tip: How to customize iPhone and iPad multitasking [Jailbreak]
Curious how to make iOS 4 multitasking on iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad behave the way you want it to? If you're Jailbroken, you have several options to choose from to help you make multitasking a little less cluttered and a lot more efficient. We'll show you how after the break!
There's a couple of things you'll need to do before we get started. First and foremost, you'll have to jailbreak your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad if you haven't already (a very easy process). We've thrown up a few great how-to articles detailing the process using Greenpois0n, Limera1n and PwnageTool to help get you started. Once you're jailbroken you'll want to head over to Cydia and install the following packages:
- Backgrounder (free)
- SwitcherMod (free)
- Five Icon Switcher (free)
Backgrounder is a system-wide extension that allows for full customization of which apps are allowed to continue running in the background after you return to the homescreen. The default way iOS 4 handles multi-tasking is completely reliant on the developer updating their app to support the different APIs Apple has made available. Unfortunately for older apps that haven't yet updated to support such features, iOS will kill the app when returning to the homescreen. Backgrounder fixes this by allowing all apps to run in the background by default. In addition, the app lets you choose which method of backgrounding to use (iOS native or Backgrounder's more traditional implementation). You can also use it to filter out apps that you don't want backgrounded.
Backgrounder will also put a small indicator badge on the bottom-right corner of any app that are backgrounded, making it easy to quickly tell which apps are multitasking. For the best results, we suggest using 'Auto Detect' across the board under the Global Settings pane.
SwitcherMod is an extension that lets you customize the app switcher in iOS, including letting you bypass the 'hold to wiggle' method for closing apps. Instead, when you bring up the app switcher with this option turned on, the close button will automatically appear over each icon, a much quicker and more efficient way of killing backgrounded apps.
In addition, SwitcherMod will let you change the behavior of how the app switcher displays apps that aren't actually running in the background. Something I personally find annoying about iOS 4 is when I see an app in the app switcher that isn't actually running in the background. Instead of thinking of the app switcher as a recently-used app launcher, I prefer using it as more of a place to go where I can see all of the apps that are actually open and running, which is a much more natural execution of the concept in general.
Five Icon Switcher
The last tweak you'll want to grab is Five Icon Switcher, which lets you set the amount of icons shown in the app switcher. You can set up to ten apps, but I prefer setting it to five in order to match the five icons in my dock.
Bonus tip: Users who want more than five apps in their app switcher can download Shrink from cydia ($0.99 cents), which does exactly what the name implies and shrinks down the icons in the app switcher with additional options to shrink icons in your dock and on the Springboard (iPhone Home Screen system) as well. This allows for a cleaner look when there's more than 4 apps in the app switcher.
Although Apple did a pretty amazing job with their multi-tasking system, we think these mods make it even better. Let us know if you have any questions or even better mods you know of in the comments below!
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Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.