More on Apple Potentially Allowing Limited Background Multi-Tasking

Friday we linked to Business Insider and Daring Fireball both quoting sources that claimed Apple was considering allowing some form of limited background multi-tasking on the iPhone at some point in the future. Now TechCrunch is weighing in, having heard a similar rumor from its sources:

while this is in no way a done deal yet, Apple is definitely trying to come up with a way to offer background support for third-party apps. They went on to note that while Apple may have something to say about it at WWDC, it’s very unlikely that any solution would be ready at that time, and could be a situation similar to how Apple announced Push Notification at WWDC last year but said it was coming in a few months (which it later was delayed until iPhone 3.0).

TechCrunch cites processor power, user experience, and battery life as factors currently concerning Apple. They also suggest the soon-to-be released Palm Pre, with its webOS multi-tasking as a driving force behind all chatter we've been hearing about it all of a sudden.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • The Pre is just running web-pages, not full blown native applications - so it's difficult to compare directly.
  • Whatever, i'm over it at this point.
  • frog,
    The Palm Pre is not running web-pages. The programs are written using the same code as web pages are written, but they are not "web-apps". They require no internet connection to operate. Opening a Pre application is not like opening a web browser and running a Java-based program where a server connection is required to upload data. Of course just like any mobile device application, the apps pull information from various online sources, but the apps are not "web-pages". Many of the native applications are not written in "web-language", like the music app, video player, camera app, notes app, calculator, etc. But they all can run at the same time because of how much RAM it possesses, the super-fast processor, and general OS architecture. Therefore you can compare directly if you want.
  • Nope. The Pre is running web-pages, just locally as opposed to over the 'net. iPhone runs it's "in-built" applications in the background too, so I'm exclusively talking about 3rd party apps. 3rd party apps are simply locally run web-pages on the Pre.
  • I like all this "limiting" Apple and AT&T does. They limit 3rd party apps because AT&T can't provide the network to power them. They limit choice. They limit the GPS and don't provide any navigation programs. And coming multitasking (yeah right).
    The iphone has a great browser and great app experience. The Pre finally brings this to a smartphone on a better network. No reason to stick around and watch apple limit you to death.
  • The confusion comes from calling it WebOS. They aren't actually "Web" Applications, but rather HTML/CSS/JavaScript Applications not requiring the Internet. They should just eliminate the word "web" and use something else, in my opinion.
  • @cardfan: Sprint "limits" by not allowing simultaneous voice and data. Every platform and provider have good and bad points. (I couldn't go back not using data while talking)
    @Steve: They look like widgets to, maybe similar to what would be built in dash code? AJAX + hooks into smartphone specific hardware features. Lighter than a native SDK but will it be a long term replacement for Cocoa, Java, etc. type toolsets?
  • I would be happy with two 3rd party apps running in the background. There's not that many apps that worth it in the app store anyway
  • mmmmmmmmm. Competition. Good every time its tried.
  • I would love to be able to listen to Pandora while doing something else, but other than music programs, don't see a real need for background apps.
  • I think the idea of having 2 user-selected apps to run in the background would work just fine. I have a jailbroken iPhone running Backgrounder, and usually have 1-2 apps constantly running (IM, Twitter and sometimes a radio app) without having my iPhone's performance degrade too noticeably. Depending on the app itself, Apple should be able to pull off something similar in 3.0 on iPhone 3G hardware specs, without getting themselves into too much trouble before the next hardware revision is released (which I assume will have background apps allowed with the added RAM)...
  • @Brian:
    I think having apps run in the background is useful for more than just using more than one app at the same time (listening to music while surfing the web). Imagine being able to switch from one app to another without having to relaunch them allowing you to pick up from where you left off. Just as you can do on a computer with multiple apps running.
  • Cardfan - have you ever tried to use other smartphones? They are a total pain in the butt to use. Once you are away from Apple software and onto Palm software you will begin crying on account of the unintuitive software. iPhone is often imitated, never even close to duplicated. Good luck.
  • While I want my Pandora-while-browsing too, the most useful "Pre-like" feature sets could be met by keeping more of the Apple-produced apps in memory. One of the Pre video shows getting an SMS, going to the calendar, scheduling an event, noticing an incoming IM (ok, so that is not Apple), checking that, replying, and then adding that second person to the event, without having to quit completely and reload any app. It seems far faster and superior than modal popups and quitting and restarting an app for ever interaction.
    It may be that outside of marketing videos, the Pre ould bog down horribly, but, if for real, keeping those apps in memory (or faster switching) would go a long way towards streamlining my day-to-day use. It may just be that the newer Pre hardware can handle it, but not the current iPhone hadware. I generally do not upgrade mid-contract, but that sort of support would convince me to upgrade my iPhone 3G tomorrow.
  • Sorry fassy,
    iPhone will not have such capability anytime soon. The Pre comes out June 7th. Forget upgrading, time to graduate!
  • @Al
    Do you think your intelligence had anything to do with your inability to use a WM phone?
  • @daniel
    palm is dead
  • @fassy +1
  • @Daniel
    Probably not (well, not without jailbreaking) -- but, then again, the Pre will not have simultaneous voice and data anytime soon, and that is not a feature I want to give up.
    Either way, it is a phone, not a (bleeping) contest -- some things the Pre will do better than the iPhone, and some things the iPhone will do better than the Pre. I hope they both sell oodles, so that Palm and Apple spur each other on for years to come.
  • @Al
    There are various guides to help your limited understanding of Windows Mobile devices. Once you learn you will not go back to the iCripple.
  • @fassy
    Umm I'm pretty sure iPhone's voice and data only occur simultaneously when you are on WiFi! And Pre will be able to make calls and surf at the same time.
  • @Daniel,
    Nope, HSPA allows perfect voice/data simultaneous use do it all the time. Sprint hasn't enabled that under EVDO Rev-A (if they can?) nor gone to EVDO Rev-B (which does it).
    Major drawback for me since I do sim. voice/data a lot and couldn't go without it any more.
  • @ Rene Ritchie
    What enables Sprint to allow you use voice and data at the same time has nothing to do with EVDO Rev A and has everything to do with the CDMA network. Sprint has the capability with it's CDMA network, just has not had a phone to implement such options until the Pre.
    Furthermore I don't believe you when you say you couldn't go without it. I think it is just something you are holding onto so you can stick with the iPhone.
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