Apple iPhone OS 4.0 May Include Multitasking, Says Report

Apple could include multitasking for the next version of its iPhone operating system, according to an anonymous source speaking to the blog AppleInsider. Such a move would mitigate what some users see as a weakness of the iPhone, especially when compared with smartphone operating systems such as Google Android that allow multitasking. Apple has already introduced updates to its Mac OS X 10.6.3 operating system and the iPhone OS 3.2 SDK, meant for building mobile applications for the company's upcoming iPad tablet PC.

Apple may include multitasking for third-party applications in the next version of its iPhone operating system, according to the blog AppleInsider, which cites unnamed sources close to the matter.

"The technology, detailed by people familiar with Apple's plans for the new firmware, will finally allow users to launch multiple apps in the background and quickly switch between them," bloggers Kasper Jade and Prince McLean wrote March 31. "Apple initially avoided an app model supporting multiple apps running at once to help preserve battery life and simplify the user experience."

Those same sources apparently said the next iPhone operating system's user interface at least partially takes its inspiration from the Mac Expose feature. "A key combination-reportedly hitting the Home button twice-will trigger an Expose-like interface that brings up a series of icons representing the currently running apps, allowing users to quickly select the one they want to switch to directly," Jade and McLean wrote. "When a selection is made, the iPhone OS zooms out of the Expose task manager and transitions to that app."

The software remains under development, however, and changes could be made before its ultimate, as-yet-unannounced release date. Apple faces increased competition in the smartphone realm from the likes of Google with its Android mobile operating system, which is capable of multitasking, although poorly designed third-party programs can rapidly drain phones' battery life.

Apple's recent operating system updates include issuing the Golden Master Seed version of its iPhone OS 3.2 SDK (software development kit) March 29, ahead of the April 3 release of its iPad tablet PC. The release allows those registered with the iPhone Developer Program to build mobile applications for the iPad with non-beta tools, probably the very reason why those enrolled in the program pay $99 a year.

Resources for the iPhone OS 3.2 SDK include an iPhone Reference Library, Sample Code, iPad Programming Guide and Human Interface Guidelines. Apple claims that some 150,000 applications will be available for the iPad upon its release.

Also on March 29, Apple released the latest update to its "Snow Leopard" operating system, Mac OS X 10.6.3, with tweaks to applications such as Time Machine and a security component. Among the issues addressed, according to the company, were reliability of third-party USB devices, photo screen savers, QuickTime X and printers; OpenGL-based application compatibility; and DNS (Domain Name System) server ordering "as specified in Network Preferences and DNS reliability." More information about that update, along with Apple's rather ominous warning that "you may experience unexpected results if you have third-party software modifications installed," can be found on the Apple support site.