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Steve Jobs: Why iPhone 3G Was Held Back in iOS4

The iOS 4 launched yesterday, allowing those with iPod Touch and iPhone devices to enjoy the updated software packed with new features.

Sadly, not all devices were equal in their treatment. The iPhone 2G EDGE model is now no longer supported, and the iPhone 3G doesn't get multitasking or wallpaper capabilities. Only the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 get all the new features.

While there has to be a cutoff point somewhere for end-of-life, there are still lots of iPhone 3G users out there who feel that their devices are still relevant. Sure, multitasking takes more memory and the 3G has half as much RAM as the 3GS, and a quarter of the RAM of the iPhone 4. But what about a simple wallpaper?

A Gizmodo reader wrote to Steve Jobs wondering why even wallpaper wasn't allowed on the 3G phone.

She wrote:

Hey Steve! I just upgraded my iPhone 3G to iOS 4 and was really looking forward to setting a background on my home screen. Guess that's not happening, but I'd like to know why.

Steve Jobs replied:

The icon animation with backgrounds didn't perform well enough.

It was an honest and clear answer from the Apple CEO. It seems that Apple toyed with the idea, but even the mere fact that animation wasn't as smooth as the company liked meant that the millions of iPhone 3G users will be stuck with the black background.

Of course, it would have been better to leave the feature in and let the user decide for him or herself whether the choppier animation was worth the background image – but that's not how Apple rolls.

Thankfully, jailbreaking software will allow iPhone 3G users to gain both backgrounds and multitasking. In fact, we've tried the jailbroken update on our 3G models, and things work well. We're not sure what the long-term effects are of running the iPhone 3G with multitasking with only 128MB of RAM, but at least we get the choice for ourselves.

  • Kaiser_25
    Oh Steve... always trying to screw your customers...i have 3GS, and i still feel ashamed having supported you...
    Reply
  • N.Broekhuijsen
    wow. that is the most pathetic response I could ever have imagined.
    Reply
  • Clintonio
    I think it's honest, not exactly pathetic.

    I do think it's cheap though.
    Reply
  • sceen311
    Knew my iPhone didn't have multitasking when I got it. No one ever promised it would get it, so I still don't care today.

    Don't see how people could get upset about not getting something they were never promised to get.
    Reply
  • Tmanishere
    Apple has always been more about simplicity and user-friendliness rather than customization (i.e. Mac vs PC). When will people understand that? Just be happy about the competition bringing prices down.
    Reply
  • theuerkorn
    While I agree that allowing the user to decide (maybe with a warning), it's within a company's right to have certain quality standards.
    Reply
  • godwhomismike
    Kaiser_25Oh Steve... always trying to screw your customers...i have 3GS, and i still feel ashamed having supported you...
    As a 3G user, I think multitasking would have made this phone unusable. You have to remember, the 3G has half of the memory that your 3GS has, and it pretty much runs at half the speed. I find the 3G to be way too slow at times, and there is sometimes noticeable wait for some things to load or respond. I definitely see why multitasking or whatever other features were not added to the 3G. After going to iOS4, it's slightly slower than it was before, it's less responsive, and in my opinion, a bit too slow all the time now. Any thing else added to this thing would have sunk it like the Titanic. It's definitely at its limit of what 128MB of ram can handle.
    Reply
  • nforce4max
    This is why I never buy any thing that is Apple. When it comes to any thing Micro$soft we're getting the shaft enough as it is but Apple takes it to far.
    Reply
  • jomofro39
    Note to future employees/CEOs, that is NOT how you address a customer if you want them to continue their business with you. If anyone at my company e-mailed a response like that to a customer, they would be punished. Steve should get some underling to write his responses if his time is too precious to afford a salutation and departing comment. Rude, IMHO.
    Reply
  • Simple11
    I jailbroke my 3G and got the mulititasking app...crashed my phone twice, and reformatted each time. Anyhow I don't mind.
    Reply