Multitasking With iOS 4 is Horrible: Apple Blew It

Apple needs to go back to the drawing board when it comes to implementing multitasking on the iPhone.

Alright Apple, you win. You don't really want multitasking on the iPhone, and iOS4's halfhearted attempt proves it.

iOS4's multitasking is a mess of a feature. Yes, it lets you listen to Pandora while using other apps. Yes, it lets you freeze games that support multitasking, such as Plants vs. Zombies, while you take care of more important tasks. But in exchange for those perks, some of the iPhone's elegance is lost, and the advantages you'd gain from true multitasking aren't there either.

(See related: iOS 4.0 Multitasking Has Challenge Ahead )

Let's be clear about what iOS4's multitasking is: Rather than run multiple apps at the same time, iOS4 freezes the ones that aren't in use, with the exception of certain functions. Music, for instance, can play in the background, VoIP apps can answer calls and GPS apps can give directions.

But most apps won't do anything except go to sleep, which means one of the classic tricks of multitasking, loading one task while you perform another, is not available unless the developer adds that function under a special task completion API. Some apps, such as Flickr, may take advantage of this feature for large file transfers, but others won't. Waiting for a YouTube video to buffer over a 3G connection? It won't go anywhere unless you're staring at the loading screen.

Then there's the issue I've seen acknowledged most often: Developers must add multitasking functionality themselves, and the majority have yet to do so. This will fix itself with time, but the lack of support dampens the initial impact of iOS4's marquis feature.

What bothers me the most, however, is the sloppy implementation of iPhone multitasking. Every time you open an app, it gets added to the tray, and the only way to close it is by pressing and holding any app icon, then clicking the top-left corner of the apps you want to close. If you don't micromanage, the tray quickly becomes overrun with clutter, making it hard to find the apps you really need.

When Apple chief executive Steve Jobs introduced iOS4, he said this: "When it comes to multitasking, if a user has to use a task manager, they (the developer) blew it." I suppose Jobs was referring to Windows Task Manager, which you use when all hell breaks loose on a PC. But taken literally, iOS4 has a task manager too, and all hell breaks lose if you don't use it. This time, Apple blew it.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobilesmartphonesAppleiPhonesoftwareapplicationstelecommunicationPhonesconsumer electronicsapple iphoneMobile operating systems

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Ada Chan

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

I highly recommend the Dynabook Portégé® X30L-G notebook for everyday business use, it is a benchmark setting notebook of its generation in the lightweight category.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?