Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, has personally shown us, at length in two press announcements, that it can. He demoed the function at the launch of the new iPhone OS and again at WWDC10, and proved that you will be able to switch between multiple apps on the phone.
We’ve also tried it here in the Pocket-lint office thanks to a play with the latest GM build of the iOS 4 update on an iPhone 3GS.
But here’s the rub: Currently, in our initial testing, only Apple apps, like the Clock, Mail and Safari, can multitask. That’s it!
It seems that, as Jobs pointed out, developers will need to enable multitasking on their apps for the function to work, before it comes with the free iOS 4 update on June 21. Something that’s unlikely in a vast number of cases.
Approximately two months ago, at an Apple event where the company unveiled a sneak peak of iPhone OS 4, Scott Forstall, Senior Vice President of iPhone software, mentioned the following about the multitasking approach Apple has decided to take in the upcoming iPhone OS 4 (emphasis added):
How are we adding multitasking while preserving battery life and performance. We looked at tens of thousands of apps in the app store, and we’ve distilled the services those apps need to run in the background. So we implemented those services, and we’re providing those services as APIs to developers so they can add multitasking while preserving battery life.
As shocking as it may sound, there is absolutely nothing exclusive about the Pocket-lint article. It has been known since day one that iOS 4 would require developers to update their applications to take advantage of multitasking features in the newer operating system.
Where Apple would best serve iPhone customers would be better socialization of this requirement – that all existing applications will not automagically be capable of taking advantage of multitasking features until updated, something unlikely to happen to most applications prior to the June 21 release of iOS 4.
Consumers need to be aware of this issue so they are not banging their heads on their desks while trying to figure out why their apps will not multitask. Apple needs to clearly publish this information so they are not inundated with requests for help. Developers need to reach out to their communities and keep them informed so their users are not wondering why their favorite apps cannot multitask.