OS 4.0 rumors for the iPod Touch and iPhone continue to swirl around. Many believe that its release will come in time for the launch of the iPad in late March. A lot of people believe that this will include the one really big feature that has been missing since the iPhone’s first release, the ability to multitask. Personally, I am nearly positive this is not the case. If it were the case, don’t you think that they would have announced multitasking during the monumental press conference they had last month? I think they would have. Especially since many in the press were nonplussed about what came out of the iPad announcement and that led to stagnant stock prices for Apple.
I also have a feeling that multitasking can’t adequately be done by the hardware of anything other than the 3GS, the brand new iPad or the newest version of the Touch. Does Apple really want to end all firmware support of older generation iPhones and iPod Touch? I’m not sure they do. After all, what they are doing right now generated nearly a billion dollars in App Store revenue profits last year. Think about that number. Apple hosted the App Store and made a billion dollars. They didn’t create any of that content; they just provided a place for it. That is nearly 100% profit. Out of the 70 million iPod/iPhone devices in the world, half are probably older generation devices. If they began supporting multitasking, and the older models couldn’t do it, newer software likely would not run, meaning less revenue from apps for Apple.
The economics and hardware issues aside, there is another issue. All 3 Apple devices have one single button. Unless they implement something akin to the way jailbroken multitasking works, holding down the one button to switch apps, there isn’t a whole bunch of ways I can think of for them to easily support it. I think it’s a shame that they didn’t include an extra button on the iPad, at least something like a toggle or a wheel that would allow for switching apps or even scrolling down the screen. And in any case, maybe it’s just me but when I’m reading a book I don’t want to drag my finger across a glass screen to turn the next page. A wheel would have been nice.
I have a feeling that when 4.0 does arrive, whenever it is, it will disappoint. There may be a nice feature here or there but in all likelihood, multitasking will be nowhere in sight. Yes, people want it but why would Apple care. After all, it obviously isn’t hurting their sales not to have it. What do you guys think? Do you expect multitasking to be added in the near future? Chime in.
[Editor’s note: Clearly this post is outdated. That is the fun of tech prognostication. If you have a second, I wrote a follow up article following Apple’s announcement that OS 4.0 would in fact include multitasking. Click here to read.]