Why the rumored new method of multitasking in iOS is a bad idea

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| April 19, 2011

While the white iPhone 4 may not be yet available for general purchase, there’s no doubt that the handset still exists. And while it has popped up in videos and pictures before, there hasn’t been a video of the fabled device showing off a new, test version of iOS before. So, today’s video (or videos, now) from Tinhte is pretty revealing, in the sense that we’re looking at something most of us have never seen before. Whether or not it’s a test version of iOS 5 is still up in the air, but for the sake of this article, we’ll go ahead and assume that it is.

The video in question does a pretty nice job of showing the “new” features in just over a minute. There’s some time for the “new” Spotlight search function, but for the most part it’s the same as the current generation of iPhone OS. It’s the multitasking that has everyone talking, and how different it is from what iPhone owners are accustomed to. Of course, if we’re being completely honest here, it doesn’t look all that different from what Apple is currently employing, but if this is the new route that Apple is going for multitasking, I’m not so sure it’s the right path.

The argument of whether or not iPhone users are really multitasking on their devices is still a heated one, and I’m not going to get into it. For all intents and purposes, we’ll just go ahead and say that we’re multitasking in the way that Steve Jobs wants us to be multitasking, and we’ll leave it at that. And for the most part, the way that it’s been implemented works for the iPhone. Freezing an application in the background, and being able to access it quickly with the Home button, works well for iOS and that’s exactly what Jobs intended.

But it works because it utilizes the “drawer” on the bottom, where application icons will greet you with a double-press of the Home button. This works because it stays in the flow of iOS, and doesn’t make any drastic changes. This “new” version of multitasking not only changes the way that we interact with iOS, it does it in a way that mirrors other mobile operating systems. Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be any access to the music controls, which seems to be a huge step in the wrong direction. (Unless there’s another way to easily access the iPod controls.)

The more I watch the video, and the more that I see how the multitasking is implemented, the more I imagine that this is nothing but a test video for a previous version of iOS. This was probably one incarnation of multitasking that the developers created, and was subsequently turned down by Jobs. But, it’s possible that it’s not, and that we’re looking at something new that’s coming whenever iOS 5 is revealed.

There’s nothing wrong with conjecture, so let me know what you think of this video. Is this the real deal? Or are we seeing a past version of iOS that we’ll never see again? Do you like the way multitasking is handled here, or do you prefer what you’re using now on your iOS-based device? Let me know in the comments.

Products mentioned