The big announcement this week came from Apple who finally announced background processing for the iPhone and iPad. Here's a snippet from an article in PC Magazine:
Within multitasking, Jobs also highlighted several capabilities, acknowledging that the company had been outpaced by other mobile operating systems with multitasking capabilities, just as other companies passed them in adding cut-and-paste capabilities. "We weren't first to this party, but we're going to be the best," Jobs said.
If a user wants to shift to another app, he or she can double tap the "home" button. A "dock" with recent applications will appear, allowing the user to shift to another application. Apps that aren't being used become "quiescent," and the OS saves their state and pulls resources from them. When the OS shifts back, those resources are re-allocated, and the user has a chance to resume where he or she left off, Jobs said.
"In multitasking, if you see a task manager, you blew it," Jobs said.
For me though, I'm still amazed at Apple's attitude toward its customers.
'Outpaced by other mobile operating systems'? Apple wasn't 'outpaced' by other operating systems with their ability to cut & copy text or run applications in the background - those are standard features that most every smartphone owner expects from their device and Apple decided for some bizarre reason not to include the features. I just don't get it. The only smartphone I can think of that didn't allow background apps was the Palm OS and I was surprised it lasted so long without the ability. Copy & Paste? The only smartphone that I can think of that didn't allow that was the original Motorola Q. Those features are minimum requirements for any OS and for Apple to pretend that they were outsmarted by their competitors is a joke.
Regarding Multitasking - how is Apple thinking double-clicking a button and bringing up a list of 'docked' applications to select from isn't a task manager? That button was designed to be clicked once to activate the device or take you back to the home screen - it's a pretty hefty push to activate it and people won't be good at double-clicking it. They've clearly tried for force fit this feature (when it should have been baked in from the very beginning).
It's not even true multitasking - notice how the article references that applications that are pushed to the background are suspended? They're not running, their used memory is stored and retrieved later when the application is reactivated. I'm sorry, but that's not multitasking. I understand how a mobile platform would want to have the ability to suspend background tasks when memory is low, but applications should be able to run in the background and only give up their memory when needed.
Imagine a user who's about to beging a time consuming task. He starts the task then switches to another application to do something productive while the original application is doing its stuff. In this scenario the user expects the application to continue with its processing, but according to the description of the 'feature' that's not what will happen.
The iPhone and the iPad are amazing devices, but I'm still continually stunned by Apple's analysis of the market and what it thinks its users will accept as reasonable. Of course, I'v ebeen having some serious arguments lateley with some friends of mine and one of them contends that Apple is catering to people who don't care about these features and that they'll just take whatever Apple gives them. I have to admit I don't get it.