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Issue 8.5


Lessons from the Handheld World

Learning from iPhone to make your applications easier to use

Issue: 8.5 (July/August 2010)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Author Bio: Marc taught himself programming in high school when he bought his first computer but had no money for software. He's had fun learning ever since.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 17,714
Starting Page Number: 23
Article Number: 8506
Related Link(s): None

Excerpt of article text...

Apple's new iPhone OS 4.0 includes support for third-party multitasking. However, this support is limited: only certain tasks, such as playing audio in the background, are permitted via special multi-tasking APIs. That's probably a suitable compromise for everyone, but the Internet is full of Know-It-Alls who decry that Apple's iPhone OS does not support multitasking and how this is the end of the world as we know it. Multitasking is an inherent part of desktop computing that we take for granted: it seems backwards that our handhelds don't support it. But I believe that this is a deliberate choice by Apple, and not for the reasons publicly stated.

First, note that the iPhone OS has always supported multitasking. (You wouldn't be able to make phone calls without it!) It just didn't support multitasking beyond the built-in Apple apps (Phone, Mail, iPod, etc.). This meant until now it has been Apple's choice which apps were allowed to multitask.

Second, Apple's public reasons for this "limitation" is that the iPhone (especially the generation one device) has far less resources available than a traditional computer. There's limited battery life, RAM, processing power, storage space, and so on. Allowing every app to run in the background could seriously damage the user experience as it would be unclear why the battery is suddenly only lasting an hour or why the game you're playing is sluggish.

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