Why I need (and love) multitasking

Nicole Cozma
 from  Chicago
| November 30, 2010

I know people use the multitasking abilities of Android to make its case against the iPhone. I also know this is not a totally fair argument because jailbroken iPhones have been able to do multitasking (with the help of another app) for some time now. And the actual Apple branded apps have always been able to multitask—it was just third party apps that didn't have access to the feature. But I have to admit that I was drawn to Android's ability to multitask from the start—especially since I could have it without doing any complicated adjustments to my phone. So why do I feel that I need multitasking now? 

Well, I guess this is a rather new need and is based more on addiction than actual necessity. It would be incredibly difficult for me to return to using a phone that lacks the multitasking abilities I've become so accustomed to. Day to day, hour to hour, I am using multitasking when I pick up my phone. When I see my LED flashing to let me know I have a new email, I can check it while I'm still on a call with my friend Lenny. And if I receive a Google Voice message while I'm in the middle of writing a tweet, I can hop back and forth between the two without losing any information that I had already entered. I feel as though multitasking helps me respond to people who contact me quickly, and also helps me get more done. There have been studies about whether multitasking is good or bad for us all, but the way I see it is: if I feel like something is making me more productive it creates a positive influence on my current and future work. With all this in mind, how could I NOT love multitasking?

However, I realize that multitasking isn't a necessity or love for everyone that owns a smartphone. Not everyone that has an iPhone, Blackberry or Android-based phone also has Twitter, Facebook, Email, Google Voice, Foursquare, Gowalla, Kik, and AIM all running at the same time like I do (I'm totally guilty). Instead, they keep their most common apps lined up on their main desktop or menu (on the phone) and open/close them as necessary. So they're not making use of multitasking, but they are saving themselves from one of its downfalls: battery usage. One common thread across all electronics is: the more you have said piece of electronics doing, the more power its going to use. Each app that gets added to the mix on a phone starts to chomp away at its battery life. Just ask any iPhone 4, Samsung Vibrant, or Droid X owner and they will surely share their battery woes caused by large screens and running many apps at once. 

The fact that over 50 million iPhones were sold, not sporting true multitasking, is enough to prove that not all users need, want, or even love multitasking the way I do. But what about the experience on tablets? Sure a lot of iPads have sold to the masses, but I think that a true multimedia and laptop-like experience comes from multitasking! Home PCs can multitask, and if tablets are going to make their way into my host of devices, I think they need to multitask, too. Especially since they are an abbreviated version of a PC experience—but definitely more flat and shiny. 

Overall, most people I know with phones that can multitask use it to their benefit. It's one of those features that once they have it, they're really reluctant to relinquish it for any reason. Not even battery life issues can turn me away from battery-eating multitasking—I'm willing to make the sacrifice of one type of power for another. How about you? Do you have multitasking available on your phone and did it factor into your purchase decision? Do you use it? Why or why not?