The biggest thing on the new iPhone OS, iOS 4.0 (yes indeed, the name changed from iPhone OS to iOS, most probably due to the iPad being added to the iFamily) is multitasking! Or, as Apple itself puts it: “Now you can run your favorite third-party apps – and switch between them instantly – without slowing down the performance of the foreground app or draining the battery unnecessarily.”1
Multitasking on the iPhone is something the whole iWorld has been waiting for. And finally it arrived!!!!

Or hasn’t it?
Did you also notice the “1” after Apple’s multitasking statement? Yeah, it’s there for a reason. The iPhone’s multitasking is multitasking with a footnote. The footnote says “available with apps that have been developed to work with iOS 4.” This means that the great lifesaving app you use, that works great, but is never updated anymore since the developer is no longer working on it, will NOT benefit from multitasking on the iPhone…
Is that it? You say you can live with that? Nope, it’s not it… In fact, the iPhone always had multitasking, your email is being checked while you’re listening to the iPod app, or you can stay on the phone while checking your agenda. Multitasking was available only to the iPhone’s native apps. With the coming of iOS 4.0, this has changed, but only for specific kinds of applications: location data, voice over IP (VoIP), and audio. This means you will be able to stay on the phone via the Skype app (if they make a new version that is compatible with iOS 4.0, which I assume they certainly will do) while you are checking your email, or play a game of Need For Speed to fight the boredom of the phonecall. It means you will be able to hear the instructions of your GPS while reading an ebook on your iPhone and driving through traffic at 120 miles per hour. Perhaps not the most safe thing to do, but at those speeds everyone gets out of your way anyhow 😉 (Disclaimer: I am not promoting speeding! I am simply very fond of exagerations to make a point). It also means you will not be able to have Instapaper or your favourite RSS reader update itself in the background while you are reading in your newspaper app. So multitasking is a yes, but still with some remarks. However, things are improving already.
Another plus of iOS 4.0 is that apps will be able to remember where they left of. If you close an app, and reopen it again, it will be able to know where you where and what you were doing, so you can simply go on and continue your work or pleasure. Is that multitasking? No, it isn’t, but to many people this comes quite close to the most they’ve ever seen of multitasking, so I believe this is quite a good inbetween solution. Perhaps even a really good one, because, alot of people don’t really grasp multitasking, they don’t see that an app still running in the background, even if it isn’t really doing anything, is costing you memory and CPU time, and thus, basically, battery life. Apple has chosen for a path between functionality and battery life. And most probably, in the near future, they will be able to bring both those things nearer together, so that less concessions have to be made.

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