Why the iPhone doesn't need multitasking

Competitors -- not iPhone users -- sound the alarms about the iPhone's lack of true multitasking. That should tell you something

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the launch of the iPhone 3G S, rumors are beginning to circulate about what we can expect from an iPhone 4G. One of the most-wanted and most-speculated features for the next-generation iPhone OS is the ability to truly multitask between apps.

Apple has neither confirmed nor denied that a next-generation iPhone OS is pending at all, but that hasn't stopped the speculation. Apple seems to be a slave to routine, and past development and release cycles suggest that we can expect a new iPhone OS this summer.

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Multitasking, or the lack thereof, has been one of the most prevalent complaints about the iPhone as a serious business smartphone -- although I am not sure it is iPhone users who are doing the complaining. The lack of iPhone multitasking was a prime target of Verizon's "Droid Does" marketing campaign for the Android-based Motorola Droid.

The reality, though, is that the iPhone OS is already capable of multitasking, technically speaking. Certain apps and functions already multitask. You can switch to email or calendar while a voice call is still connected in the background. You can listen to music from the iPod function while continuing to use other apps on the iPhone. The multitasking is there; Apple has just restricted which apps actually have access to it.

To be honest, the iPhone screen only has enough real estate to display one app at a time, so multitasking is irrelevant in most cases. What is more important than literally leaving other apps open in the background, is building apps that are capable of retaining their state even when they're not in the foreground.

In other words, I don't need the app to run simultaneously, but as I switch from app to app I would like for the app to remember where I was so I don't have to start over each time. Because I can only see one app at a time anyway, this sort of app memory basically achieves the same goal as true multitasking. This solution is the responsibility of the app developers rather than Apple itself, and many apps already take this approach.

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