iPhone OS 4.0 arrives with “multi-tasking”, other features

Apple has announced iPhone 4.0. Highlights of this latest version include the following:

  1. Multitasking
  2. Folders in the iPhone menu to organise applications
  3. Improved Enterprise support: Data protection, multi-Exchange accounts, Exchange Server 2010, SSL VPN support, wireless app distribution, and mobile device management
  4. iBooks
  5. Game Center
  6. iAd mobile advertising platform
  7. Bluetooth keyboard support
  8. 5x digital zoom
  9. Homescreen wallpaper

Apple says that there are a hundred new features in all.

iPhone OS 4.0

Multi-tasking as implemented on the iPhone 4.0 OS is not quite proper multi-tasking, but its at least something. When the user makes a move from one app to another, the OS saves the current app’s state before taking hold of the other one. The previous apps do not run in the background.

Good idea for battery-saving, given the iPhone’s legendary battery weakness.

iPhone 3G and older users won’t be able to multitask due to hardware restraints, so if you’ve not got iPhone 3GS, you are out of luck. Hurry; upgrade your device. Or simply wait for the next iPhone device.

iPhone OS 4.0 looks good and is being expected to be available for devices later in the year.

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20 comments

  1. Yes, the long awaited iphone 4.0 is out. I believe it gives the iphone proper positioning against the avalanche of the Android OS. But that cannot really be regarded as one system because it combines so many manufacturers using a ubiquitous OS.

    There are roughly a hundred new features according to the Apple!

  2. There is something quite interesting about the iphone OS 4.0 multi-tasking. And I believe that other manufacturers OS like Nokia symbian should emulate it.

    Apple rightly informs that they now know how to carry out third party multitasking without reducing the performance of the device or hurting the battery life. They actually demoed it in the press conference that they held yesterday. I followed it live from stream feeds over the internet at the MACWorld site. What you do if you want to minimize apps or multi-task is to just double click the home button and you see a list of your applications. At this point you can just tap the Application you want to switch to in the open apps.

    Steve Jobs stated that the Device system actually runs the services application’s need in the background. The application does not need to run them on their own. Perhaps you can say it is not a “true” multitasking system as is done in other mobile OS, but I think it is done better and simply very effective. The minimized background application can run in seven services: background audio, which allows you to use the standard pop-over iPod controls, Voice over IP, which can receive calls in the background, location services for GPS and social networking (there’s an indicator if any service is tracking you), updated push notifications with local notifications, task completion so you can finish things like uploads in the background, and fast app switching, which lets apps sleep or “Pause” and resume instantly.

    Not all apps need to run completely in the background. Sometimes you may forget and that drains your battery. Like watching a video for instance. When you move to something else wouldn’t it be better if it can pause automatically at the point you minimized the video? So that when you go back it starts from where you stopped? Well, this and more were taking into account to engineer the multi-tasking in the Apple iphone OS 4.0.

  3. Afewgoodmen,

    True, not all apps need to run in the background. Still, I suspect that the iPhone’s implementation will produce less than desirable results in certain apps. But maybe not.

    For example, Windows Mobile runs full multi-tasking, yet the OS is smart enough to pause videos when you move to another app. That is an example of how a true multi-tasking OS can be implemented intelligently.

    Still, good move by Apple.

  4. There we go again. Another Apple way for you to shell out your hard earned money. What is done now should have been done with the very first iphone. Anyway, its better late than never.

    The multitasking here is different. Your apps don’t run in the backgroung hence saving the precious battery for other functions. Iphone apologists would want us to believe this is a better way. In fact any Apple way is a better way as far as they are concerned. But when the device comes out we shall be able to judge which is better.

  5. Apple fanboys are a circus. When the iPhone lacked multi-tasking, they swore by the gods that be that they didn’t need multi-tasking.

    Now that Apple has thrown them this half-baked solution and tagged it “multitasking”, they are all over it like it’s a new thing – and in some cases as if its the best thing has happened to mobile phones.

    Have you seen those Youtube videos of the iPhone doing multitasking? This is the type of multitasking that crippled the old Palm. Anybody here used some of those?

    It’s impossible to have a conversation with Apple fanboys. To them, however Apple does it is the right way.

  6. The Nokia E90, SE Xperia X1, Nokia E75, Samsung B7320, Samsung Jet, and many other numerous devices that I have used all multi-task without a hit on battery life and performance.

    Apple’s statement about their perceived problems with multi-tasking (like their lame excuse for leaving out Flash) in general is a cop-out.

    Perhaps Apple means that they have found a way to offer something akin to multi-tasking without reducing the performance and hurting the battery life OF THE IPHONE.

    That, I can identify with. But I have used several true multi-tasking devices that performed admirably and had really good battery life.

  7. Among the most desirable features of a phone, an outstanding battery life is one of the most important (especially in this part of the world!).

    In the technology world, we often hear of the term ‘state-of- the-art’. In terms of battery life, I would imagine that an ‘Apple’ would be right up there with the ‘best of them’ as regards indefatiguable battery life’. It would be like a ‘Toyota’ manufacturing a 1.6-litre sedan that does 4kn/litre of gasoline.

    As Yom pointed out, others are multitasking without a performance hit or notable depletion of battery life. Why not Apple?
    It should be noted, though, that each extra application you have open on your mobile device – consumes some battery power. The amount of power consumed depends on what that application does. The ‘Nokia Energy Profiler’ is a tool that can be used to see the exact impact on battery life – of any running application.

    Perhaps the ultra-smooth user interface of the iPhone is achieved at a great impact on battery life? I imagine manipulating all those picture elements (pixels) to achieve that level of interface smoothness will take quite some juice from the battery!

    Perhaps the time has come for technology to push forward with a new form of screen display that will consume even less power while maintaining the stunning brilliance and ‘sunlight_legibility’ of am AMOLED..
    Then Apple will have less worries about battery life and beable to give us ‘true multitasking’ ….

  8. EyeBeeKay,

    You have a point there about the possibility that the iPhone’s fancy interface impacting battery life. There’s also the issue of the size of the display.

    Samsung’s AMOLED and Super-AMOLED technology have solved the display power consumption problem. Perhaps it is time for Apple to license the technology from Sammy.

  9. the os isnt good enough for me to be drawn to it. Flash has been left out again.of what good is an expensive device that wont let you enjoy rich and interactive multi media content on it. Steve Jobs and his team of engineers should try harder.

  10. Wikipedia on Active-matrix OLED (AMOLED):

    Active-matrix OLED displays provide higher refresh rate than their passive-matrix OLED counterparts, and they consume significantly less power. This advantage makes active-matrix OLEDs well suited for portable electronics, where power consumption is critical to battery life.

    AMOLED combines super colour rendering, screen refresh rates with power efficiency. A switch to AMOLED would be a good move by Apple.

  11. Good discussion everyone.

    It is important however to note that the omission of flash from the iphone OS 4.0 was deliberate and not an oversight.

    Apple wants to pioneer the new web standard called HTML5. In HTML5, there is embedded video, sound and Flash-like technology in the website or browser itself. As a result of this, there is no need for an additional plug-in or flash to run streaming videos or any other multi-media in a browser/website! In the Apple website for instance,web sites inclusive of CNN, Time, and others that are compliant with this technology are pasted in it. With these websites on the iphone, you should be able to enjoy a full multi-media experience on your iphone browser! Of course, HTML5 is not conclusive and is not a fully adopted webs standard just yet. The final adopted version is not yet ready, but it is a viable alternative to the Flash Technology. The only problem is that it is not as common place as Flash. Perhaps I should write an article on Flash and HTML5 soon!

    For now, we all know that Adobe’s Flash is the most ubiquitous and most used multi-media technology in browsers for now. The control of web pages, internet and browsers’ video by a single company appears frightening. From an estimate that I read from a TEch Analyst on PCworld, It was suggested that almost 98% of all WebPages on the Internet use Flash. And Flash with other related Flash Technology is produced by only one Company called ADOBE. This to me looks like a monopoly. And that is why Microsoft came out with its’ Silverlight Technology. And Apple with QuickTime. Although you will see that these are not as widespread as Flash.

    A major problem about Flash is that it is often buggy and can use a system’s resources and many a time that a browser crashes, it is caused by Flash. Also, it is one of the weakest points, security wise of a browser. Hackers can gain access to your computer system using exploits in Plug-ins like a browser’s Flash. One way of improving the security of your browser and system is to ensure that your Flash is fully updated (up to date) at all times!

    Perhaps with all these reasons above, one should appreciate while mega companies like Microsoft (windows phone 7) and Apple (iphone and the recently released ipad) are shying away from Flash.

  12. Afewgoodmen,

    So far, Apple’s omission of everything that the iPhone OS lacks has been deliberate too. It is not just Flash. It is the impunity behind those deliberate omissions and the media hype to portray those omissions as something positive that is sickening.

    I do not like the monopoly that Adobe currently holds, but touting the iPhone as a multimedia device when it does not support a feature that is used on 98% of webpages seems dumb. Other smartphone platforms support Flash – and much as Apple would like to make it sound like Flash means unstable – in my experience those other smartphone browsers have hardly ever, ever crashed on me when I access Flash content. That defence from Apple is a cop-out.

    My Sansung Jet has not once crashed because I loaded Flash content. Neither has the LG GW550 (which by the way is a Windows Phone – Microsoft).

    Microsoft is wise enough to promote SilverLight without throwing Flash support out the window. But Apple’s way is always right, of course.

    Except that mobile internet statistics show that millions of iPhone users keep trying to access Flash content on their phones. Unsuccessfully, of course.

    The mobile web media world is not going to stop breathing because Apple is promoting HTML 5, as good as that is. Until that gets standardized and widely adopted, people want to access videos online – and Flash is what we’ve got for now.

  13. From a strictly technical point of view. The iPhone OS can support multitasking but apple deliberately suppressed that feature. They seem to have a certain process that monitors apps and shut them down when their memory consumption reach a certain level. I believe that apple is afraid of multitasking not because of battery life but because of memory. The solution they have now looks like it’s geared more towards saving RAM than battery life since it swaps a snapshot of an application to disk.

    I must state that apple did not pioneer that method of “apparent” multitasking. The Google nexus one used the same technique before apple adapted it. But now Steve Jobs is making the world believe that they started it all.

  14. LETS BE HONEST TO OURSELVES. HOW MANY USEFUL AND MEANINGFUL TASKS DO YOU CARRY OUT ON A PHONE SIMULTANEOUSLY? PLAYING GAMES AND WATCHING VIDEOS AT THE SAME TIME? WHY ALL THESE FUSS ABOUT MULTITASKING. COMMON GUYS, IT’S A PHONE!

  15. HOW MANY USEFUL AND MEANINGFUL TASKS DO YOU CARRY OUT ON A PHONE SIMULTANEOUSLY? PLAYING GAMES AND WATCHING VIDEOS AT THE SAME TIME?

    funny guy. a smartphone is a phone and a mobile computer. i have a question for you. How many useful and meaningful tasks do you carry out on a computer simultaeneously? Playing games and watching video at the same time?

    If you answer that question, i will also answer your own.

  16. @Mahogany, I have also felt that there is too much emphasis on multitasking (and by extension, the amount of onboard memory available to do the multitasking) .

    Now, how many things may I need to do SIMULTANEOUSLY on a phone. I once asked that question..

    For me, these are things I need to have running (ALMOST) all the time:

    Push EMail. (e.g Emoze)
    IM chat (e.g Nimbuzz)
    A (Task+Memory) Manager (e.g RAMBlow / Handy TaskMan)
    A Conversation Recorder (e.g TotalRecall)
    Call BlackList Software (e.g Handy BlackList)
    An InterFace Shell Program (e.g Handy Shell)

    That is six.

    I am hard put to find which other tasks MUST be running perpetually on my Nokia Device.

    I am able to have these tasks running simultaneously on the Nokia 5800 despite its meagre memory with enough space to still run a memory hog like Opera Mobile 10…

  17. I don’t blame you MAHOGANY. You are objective. I shall join you in picking an iphone 4.0 whenever it comes out in Europe!

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