iPhone to Finally Gain Multitasking This Summer

Apple's iPhone, as slick as it may be, has always lagged behind the competition when it came to basic OS features such as copy & paste and multitasking. With copy & paste taken care of in iPhone OS 3.0, Apple announced today plans to tackle the latter feature with iPhone OS 4.0. Yes, multitasking will finally be here in the new software update due to hit this summer.

First, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that Apple claims that its multitasking doesn't tax battery life in a significant way, but the bad news is that only the iPhone 3GS, third-gen iPod Touch and iPad (and newer) will support it. Those still using the iPhone 3G will still get some of the new features, such as the ability to sort apps into folders. Sadly, Apple doesn't list the original iPhone as being compatible with the new software.

iPhone OS 4.0 will be release for phones and iPods this summer, while iPad users will curiously have to wait until fall.

"iPhone OS 4 is the fourth major release of the world’s most advanced mobile operating system," said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. "We’re delivering over 100 new features, including multitasking, folders, a unified inbox, deeper Enterprise support, and an iPhone version of our iBooks reader and online iBookstore."

New features include:

  • Multitasking for third party apps
  • Folders to better organize and access apps
  • improved Mail with a unified inbox
  • fast inbox switching and threaded messages
  • enhanced Enterprise support with even better data protection
  • mobile device management
  • wireless app distribution and more
  • Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising platform
  • iBooks reader and online bookstore recently debuted on the iPad

More details from Apple's preview site or the press release:

iPhone OS 4’s new multitasking offers users a new way to quickly move between apps, and provides developers seven new multitasking services to easily add multitasking features to their apps. These services include background audio, so apps like Pandora can play music in the background, and VoIP, so VoIP apps can receive a VoIP call even when the iPhone is asleep or the user is running other apps. iPhone OS 4 provides multitasking to third party apps while preserving battery life and foreground app performance, which has until now proved elusive on mobile devices.

Marcus Yam is a technology evangelist for Intel Corporation, the latest in a long line of tech-focused roles spanning a more than 20-year career in the industry. As Executive Editor, News on Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, Marcus was responsible for shaping the sites' news output, and he also spent a period as Editor of Outdoors & Sports at Digital Trends.