iPhone gets multitasking this summer

On April 8th 2010, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the features of iPhone OS 4, the next big update of iPhone’s software coming this summer (probably around 22nd of June, with the rumored iPhone). iPhone OS 4 will (finally!) bring multitasking to the iPhone, together with 100 new features (knowing how Apple counts features, changing your homescreen wallpaper is one of them). Several features were revealed at the event:

  • Multitasking for 3rd party apps
  • Organize apps in folders
  • Unified inbox in the email app, also threaded view
  • iBooks (same as iPad)
  • Game Center, a social network with matchmaking and achievements (think XBOX Live or Playstation Network)

There will also be new features for developers, given access to even more of the iPhone’s functionality.

Multitasking

“Now we weren’t the first to this party, but we’re gonna be the best. Just like cut and paste.”

Steve Jobs introducing multitasking

On other smartphones, multitasking often slows down the phone and drains battery. Off course, Apple has a better solution (being sarcastic there). According to Scott Forstall (senior vice president of iPhone software), multitasking on the iPhone is done through a new set of services. The two I find interesting are background audio and fast app switching. The first will allow online services like Pandora (streaming music, not available outside US) to keep playing in the background. I assume Spotify will do this too. The latter allows for apps to save their state so that e.g. a game session can be instantly restored when relaunched. Multitasking will be transparent to the user and switching between apps is done by double tapping the home button. Then a window will popup with icons for all the “running” apps.


Video courtesy of Engadget

Organize apps in folders

As all with an iPhone now, navigating lots of apps isn’t a breeze. With OS4 you can sort apps in folders. Just drag the icons on top of each other, and they will form a folder. As you can see on the picture above, folders can even be put in the dock. The folder will automagically be named based on the apps’ category, but you can rename it if you want. I’m definitely going to have one in the dock for the most played games (Plants vz Zombies being one of them!) and another for Safari, Mail, Tweetie (Twitter client) and other related to the Internet.

Unified inbox

Unified inbox means that if you have multiple email accounts, you can see all of them in one view. You can off course choose to see one account at a time. OS4 also supports more than one Exchange account. Finally, you can organize your messages by thread. If you set up a Gmail account, iPhone will now ask you if you want to synchronize your calendar and notes too (according to Engadget). Sweet!

Game Center

Apple apparently won’t let  Plus+ and OpenFeint (two popular social gaming networks for the iPhone) alone anymore. With Game Center, Apple wants to build a social network allowing you to play against you friends and show off your achievements.

Compatibility

I have an iPhone 3G, which will NOT support multitasking (because of hardware, according to Apple). Anyway, I’m saving up for a new phone this summer and where ready to drop the iPhone were no multitasking was on the horizon. With the release of a new iPhone and OS4 in a couple of months, I’m definitely buying one!

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