Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 4th Apr 2010 21:23 UTC, submitted by kragil
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless "There is a lot of misconception around support for multitasking in the iPhone and its giant cousin, the iPad. What follows is my analysis of the situation. I am not privy to any insider Apple information. Moreover, while my knowledge is certainly colored by my work on Android, I'm not drawing a comparison or using any Google-specific knowledge." Interesting stuff about how Android does multitasking.
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Good article, but...
by mrhasbean on Sun 4th Apr 2010 23:39 UTC
mrhasbean
Member since:
2006-04-03

These applications are managed by the system more like Unix daemons and are not killed in least-recently-used order when memory is low.


...what happens if the user loads their Android device up with these "services" to the point where nothing else will run? Unlikely maybe, but possible surely.

I also think lots of people are missing the point about why there is no multitasking in iPhone OS, and why, when it is introduced, I believe it will be in some way "optional".

The iPhone and iPad are consumer devices with a very wide target audience. For the majority of that audience multitasking is the ability to be logged in to MSN, have some music playing and be surfing the 'net or checking email, and guess what, iPhone and iPad can do that. The fact is multitasking confuses a lot of people. They get lost when there is more than one application open at a time, even on their home PC / Mac.

I've previously referred to the iPhone UI's similarity to the old AtEase, the original version of which supported only one application open at a time. Even later when it supported multiple applications access was via the MacOS Applications Menu which most users never touched, and it still maintained the model of only one foreground app active at a time. I suspect when we do see multitasking on iPhone OS it will have something similar so that the non-techy users don't get lost in their devices, and this will probably piss off the techy types anyway.

There may very well be a technical reason for it, although I suppose without reverse engineering the whole OS it's impossible to categorically make that claim, but there will always be three points of view about why Apple do things.

The first group are those who believe Apple's total focus is on ripping as much money from the consumer as possible without really providing anything of value, that they leave features like this out so that they can sell you upgrades (although I'm not sure how these people reconcile this belief with the free iPhone OS upgrades), and that Apple and everyone associated with them is pure evil.

The second group think that Apple can do no wrong, are entirely focussed on the betterment of humanity with their products and that everything they produce is best of class, that Jobs doesn't just walk on water but in fact developed the molecular structure for it, and that if something doesn't have an Apple logo it's not just sub-standard but simply not worth having.

Then there are those of us who understand that Apple is just a company. Its not a religion and its not the devil incarnate either. Like any company with share holders and thousands of staff they will do what they need to do to make the biggest profit possible while delivering products that the consumer perceives have value, that they've made a significant contribution to the IT landscape over the years but have also had some unmitigated disasters and made some colossal mistakes, they use marketing as their ally, just like any good company does, and they deliver just enough to keep their customers excited but not enough to leave them complacent about the next upgrade - just like any good company does.

So comments like...

Until then, enjoy your giant iPhone. Or rock a Nexus One, which multitasks.


..are really just not necessary, and actually spoil an otherwise good article, especially when upon visiting the link in the article you're presented with...

"Sorry, the Nexus One Phone is not available in your country or region."

The majority of users couldn't give a rat's hindquarter about multitasking, and if you're the type of user who does then obviously the iPhone and iPad aren't for you, and you'll already know that. And that's great. It's the reason competition exists...

Reply Score: 1

RE: Good article, but...
by karunko on Mon 5th Apr 2010 09:05 in reply to "Good article, but..."
karunko Member since:
2008-10-28

For the majority of that audience multitasking is the ability to be logged in to MSN, have some music playing and be surfing the 'net or checking email, and guess what, iPhone and iPad can do that.


No, they can't. You can't have Pandora or Last.fm, Skype/Fring/Meebo/whatever and a Twitter client running at the same time -- unless you resort to jailbreaking.

Push notifications try to improve things somewhat but in my opinion the current implementation is rather poor and, again, it can't help for applications that really need to be running all the time.

That said, the linked article was talking (or at least trying to) about the technical aspects of multitasking on constrained devices, not about the needs (perceived or otherwise) of the mythical "majority of audience".


RT.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Good article, but...
by mrhasbean on Mon 5th Apr 2010 23:01 in reply to "RE: Good article, but..."
mrhasbean Member since:
2006-04-03

"For the majority of that audience multitasking is the ability to be logged in to MSN, have some music playing and be surfing the 'net or checking email, and guess what, iPhone and iPad can do that.


No, they can't. You can't have Pandora or Last.fm, Skype/Fring/Meebo/whatever and a Twitter client running at the same time -- unless you resort to jailbreaking.
"

You make a good mate for Thom - quoting something that isn't there. Read my original comment and tell me what the iPhone or iPad can't do that I said it can. You CAN be LOGGED IN to MSN, be playing music and surfing the 'net OR checking email. I didn't mention ANY of those other apps, but hey, don't let facts get in the way of your agenda...

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Good article, but...
by razor on Mon 5th Apr 2010 16:49 in reply to "Good article, but..."
razor Member since:
2010-01-13

...what happens if the user loads their Android device up with these "services" to the point where nothing else will run? Unlikely maybe, but possible surely. .


There is always a way to mess up your phone if you REALLY tried.

The fact is multitasking confuses a lot of people. They get lost when there is more than one application open at a time, even on their home PC / Mac.


So apple is actually doing us a favor by not letting us listen to pandora while surfing? you know there is another way to solve this problem: invent an interface that doesnt confuse ppl when multitasking. isnt that what apple is supposed to be good at?

The majority of users couldn't give a rat's hindquarter about multitasking, and if you're the type of user who does then obviously the iPhone and iPad aren't for you, and you'll already know that.


thats actually a good point. All my friends have iphones. to them, multitasking would be nice, but it is not a game changer. apple's genius lies in marketing and brand management. while its competitors are busy implementing these technical features, apple has make its iphone into a cultural icon and fashion statement. Good business.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Good article, but...
by phoudoin on Tue 6th Apr 2010 08:21 in reply to "Good article, but..."
phoudoin Member since:
2006-06-09

The iPhone and iPad are consumer devices with a very wide target audience. For the majority of that audience multitasking is the ability to be logged in to MSN, have some music playing and be surfing the 'net or checking email, and guess what, iPhone and iPad can do that.

Don't underestimate mainstream customer, because 1) he's fatally less and less an eternal non-techy and 2) he's expecting (for good reason) more and more from always more expensive devices.

For instance, even the most non-techy customer will expect to be notified when a new mail or a new IM contact show up *while* surfing on the web *while* listening to music. As soon he will discover that he must re-launch his IM or email client to see who's/what's new, as soon he will say you that, no, multitasking is not only the ability to *do* multiple tasks one after one but *also* at the same time.
In particular when the device is not specially cheap.

The fact is multitasking confuses a lot of people. They get lost when there is more than one application open at a time, even on their home PC / Mac.

That's not multitasking in itself that confuse people, that the clobbered interface used to control tasks. But there is some UI design that does it better than the quite old GIMP or the menu + foreground full-screen current task, as shown on Palm's WebOS for instance.

If multitasking was confusing people, they could not even use their iPhone while walking, speaking and navigating (or far worse - and illegal: while driving) on streets, subways or roads. Figure what? They do.

People are multitasking every day. I guess they're not confused by doing several things at a time, but more by the way they organized it well, or not. In case of a mobile device, by the way the *device* helps to organize it. Or not.

"Sorry, the Nexus One Phone is not available in your country or region."

There is alternative smartphones to run android, available everywhere, while the iPhone OS runs only on... iPhone (now available in two sizes, though):

"Sorry, the iPhone OS is not available in your phone or device."

;-)

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Good article, but...
by JAlexoid on Tue 6th Apr 2010 18:48 in reply to "Good article, but..."
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

...what happens if the user loads their Android device up with these "services" to the point where nothing else will run? Unlikely maybe, but possible surely.

Android WILL kill off services. If there is not enough mem, Android will be killing processes(including services) until it's basically iPhone-like(only one foreground application is running).
Description is found here: http://developer.android.com/intl/de/guide/topics/fundamentals.html...

If all non essential services and daemons are killed off and the only application running is the foreground application, Android will inform the user that the application is using up too much mem and give an option to kill that application.

Basically Android manages the applications in a way, that will impact the actual user as little as possible.


And though I agree on most of your points about multitasking, there are very particular use cases where it's pretty much essential.(Other posts have covered it)

The article I gave a link at the top, is a must for reading and understanding. It's hard to read, but word-for-word provides a LOT of information about Android. The original author probably didn't have time to actually read it through.
PS: I develop for Android and I like looking around the Android's sources.
PPS: I got my Nexus One, even though I live in LITHUANIA! If there's a will, there's a way.

Edited 2010-04-06 18:51 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Good article, but...
by thomas.tmc on Tue 6th Apr 2010 19:17 in reply to "Good article, but..."
thomas.tmc Member since:
2010-04-06

The fact is multitasking confuses a lot of people. They get lost when there is more than one application open at a time, even on their home PC / Mac.

So basically you're saying a lot of people are too stupid, or computer illiterate, to handle multitasking.

I totally disagree, but I will give you this. Of my friends and people I meet, it's the least technologically inclined of them that use MacBooks, (unless it's what is used company wide), because it's easy. Apple products are more like toys than computers, and that is appealing to a certain crowd.

Reply Parent Score: 2