A Moment with Multi-tasking

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Eso, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. Eso macrumors 68000

    Eso

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    #1
    Opponents of multi-tasking (running multiple apps simultaneously, to be specific) apologize for the lack of the feature by arguing that it isn't necessary.

    They will first say that fast application load times combined with apps saving their state accomplish the same thing as multi-tasking. Secondly, they will challenge anyone to come up with a scenario as to why it's needed - excepting running Pandora in the background - and shoot down your reply.

    To the first point, I reply:

    1. Apps saving their state is a behavior that mimics what you would experience with actual multi-tasking. It was a compromise due to limitations of the hardware, but that is no longer relevant with the 3GS. With multi-tasking, apps would behave the same way that they do now while adding more flexibility.​

    2. Not every app saves its state when closed. This is annoying when you switch to another app and must navigate back to where you were when re-launching the app. On the other hand, some apps work best when they always start at the same screen, such as the Settings app. I don't want to have to navigate backwards every time I launch the app because I previously quit in one of the sub menus. There is more flexibility with multi-tasking because there is a distinction between switching apps and outright closing them.​

    3. Multi-tasking is about more than apps saving their state. It is about keeping context and preserving train-of-thought. Say a third-party app opens up a link in Safari. After you close the browser, you aren't returned to the app - you are returned to the home screen. Multi-tasking allows you to pause your workflow in one app while you explore a tangent in another. When you switch back to the app, you can resume your thought process. Re-launching apps from the home screen is not as nice beucase it interrupts our natural thought process.​

    To the second point, that's what this thread is for. Post your real-life experiences of when multi-tasking would have been handy. For example:

    I recently restored my iPhone as a new phone. I was setting up options to my liking in the Settings app when I get to mail accounts. I remembered that Gmail recommends setting up Gmail on the iPhone by choosing "Other..." as opposed to the built-in option so it syncs with the web app as designed. I open Safari and look up how to set up Gmail on the iPhone.

    Now that I have the instructions ready, I go into settings and start to set up my account. After a couple pages, I switch... err, wrong word. I quit and go to Safari to review the next few steps. I re-launch settings to find myself back at the main menu. All the information I have already entered has been lost!

    What am I supposed to do, memorize every setting so I can enter it all in one shot? If there was multi-tasking, I could easily switch back and forth between both applications. Instead, I had to open Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calenders > Mail Account (scroll down) > Advanced two or three times to make sure all the local settings and server ports were correct.
     
  2. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Location:
    Washington DC
    #2
    What the heck is an "opponent of multi-tasking?"

    You've met people like this? Why would you go to all this trouble to make a post retorting their bizarre claims?

    I'd think that ignoring them and just talking to people who know what they're talking about is a better way to go. There are some people that it's just not worth arguing with.
     
  3. ibbieta macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2008
  4. kdarling macrumors demi-god

    kdarling

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2007
    Location:
    First university coding class = 46 years ago
    #4
    Misguided opponents to multitasking are all over iPhone forums.

    It was a useful post for those who are more open minded and curious.
     
  5. colmaclean macrumors 68000

    colmaclean

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    Location:
    Berlin
    #5
    I'm not an opponent of multitasking (was using an Amiga over 20 years ago), but can understand why Apple is so reticent to introduce it to their mobile devices.

    It's mainly a minority (techie) wish - for the average punter, there'd be a modal window popping up every 5 minutes telling then to shut down some apps because their phone is being throttled by too many processes.

    Maybe they could have a preference switch to turn multitasking on (followed by a series of "Are you really sure?" dialogs...).
     
  6. bbplayer5 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    #6
    Might not always be possible... Apple is just ridiculous.
     
  7. Kahnyl macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    #7
    What makes you think Apple wouldn't do it much more elegantly than others have? Multitasking doesn't have to be annoying or hard to manage.

    I don't believe just techies want it either. Check out some reviews on the AppStore for streaming apps and there's always loads of "Would give five stars if it could run in the background" type of comments.

    If Apple released a phone without a backlight there would be people on MacRumors arguing that no-one needs backlights.
     
  8. VforVelveta macrumors regular

    VforVelveta

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    #8
    What drives me nuts is the "Well I wouldn't find x feature useful, therefore it's a stupid/unnecessary/worthless feature that no one needs" attitude some people have. Multitasking gets this response a lot, along with a dashboard-like place for widgets. Annoying.
     
  9. alent1234 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    #9
    and it's getting a little annoying not being able to stream pandora and run a twitter app at the same time. if apple is going to come out with lala it better be free or i'm going to start looking at WInMo 7 or Android. Wife is eligble for an upgrade this summer for her 3g. I'll give her my 3GS and buy another phone for myself
     
  10. mgamber macrumors 6502a

    mgamber

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    Jun 12, 2008
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    1966
    #10
    Seriously? This site is BRIMMING with people who will go out of their way to berate anyone who doesn't agree with their thinking, no matter how shortsighted and/or ridiculous, and multitasking is one of those things that they like to rally behind since cut/copy/paste and mms were introduced despite their unsolicited expert opinion. :D

    Jailbreaking stopped being an option when jailbreaking became a half-assed solution. There's no way I'm going to jailbreak when I have to have blackra1n around to restart the phone.
     
  11. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Location:
    Washington DC
    #11
    Eso, I'm not actually complaining about your post (which really isn't a bad post) at all. I was just trying to say that you probably shouldn't try to argue sense into people who make no sense because they won't appreciate it. In other words, your post isn't wrong or bad, it's just not going to accomplish anything.

    I hope you realize that I wasn't trying to insult your or anything. I just hate to see people waste their time arguing with people whose minds you can't change.

    I thought I was making a useful point, but apparently other people want to insult me because of it, so I guess they didn't like it. (I'm not talking about everyone, thanks to those with the nice replys.) I sure hope you didn't feel like I was being mean to you since I wasn't trying to offend you.
     
  12. mgamber macrumors 6502a

    mgamber

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    Jun 12, 2008
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    1966
    #12
    Will this thread accomplish less than yet another of those wonderous examples of no self control from the spaz and yet still seem to garner 8 pages of replies?
     
  13. TheSpaz macrumors 604

    TheSpaz

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    #13
    It's not as hard to remember a couple of fields. You make it sound like mission impossible.

    Also, if there's a really long URL you need to memorize, you can use copy and paste instead. You chose a bad example.

    Apple knows what you want so they give you exactly what they know that you want.
     
  14. thelatinist macrumors 603

    thelatinist

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    Aug 15, 2009
    Location:
    Connecticut, USA
    #14
    Ah, the irony!
     
  15. TheSpaz macrumors 604

    TheSpaz

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    #15
    There's no irony. I said "you" can use copy and paste. I'm assuming everyone else has 3.0 or later on their device.

    I love the people here on MacRumors. They're so nice to each other. :rolleyes:
     
  16. colmaclean macrumors 68000

    colmaclean

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    Location:
    Berlin
    #16
    Some people have pretty poor short-term memory, myself included. Copy-and-paste cannot work if you need to input multiple fields, so is a pretty bad example as well.
     
  17. CrzyCanuck72 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2003
    #17
    multitasking on BlackBerries is quite intuitive - unless you specifically tell an app to quit, it will move to the background when you exit to the homescreen. If you hold down the BB-button, you'll get a popup with a list of apps running. Switching between apps is extremely quick (I can zip back and forth between an email and BBM like nothing), and unless the app is actively accessing the network, it doesn't really affect the battery.

    Granted, BlackBerry apps are much simpler than iPhone apps and therefore less resource-intensive when in the background, but this just goes to show that there are simple, intuitive multitasking solutions that Apple could be looking at. Frankly, now that I have multitasking on my BB, I couldn't go back to a non-multitasking phone.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. TheSpaz macrumors 604

    TheSpaz

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    #18
    What were we talking about? I forgot.
     
  19. daytoncj macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2009
    #19
    What? I'm confused by what you mean here. Explain please.
     
  20. TheSpaz macrumors 604

    TheSpaz

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2005
    #20
    It's a tethered jailbreak.
     
  21. Carniphage macrumors 68000

    Carniphage

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2006
    Location:
    Sheffield, England
    #21
    I agree.

    But the functionality you describe here does not require tasks to run in background. It requires tasks to be suspended by the OS for subsequent immediate resumption.

    For many classes of applications it *not desirable* for tasks to run in the background at all.

    We don't want a driving game to go driving us off a cliff-edge while we are taking a call.

    By all accounts OS4.0 will deliver a number of new methods for applications to be switched and give the appearance of "running" several apps at once.

    I think everyone agrees that instant switching between multiple applications with no loss of context would be great on the iPhone and especially on the iPad.

    Apple might call this feature multi-tasking. Or they might barely mention it.

    What you will not get is a system where any number of apps can be launched and its down to the user to police the system and shut-down apps to free-up resources.

    C.
     
  22. thelatinist macrumors 603

    thelatinist

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2009
    Location:
    Connecticut, USA
    #22
    Carniphage: a very well-thought-out and sensible post. You've managed to express what my sense has always been: that the multitasking Apple eventually implements will be very different from what everyone expects. Push notifications were a perfect solution to the IM problem, and did not require running IM apps in the background. I think that one of the next steps will be a framework to allow streaming-music services to interact directly with iTunes. This will allow our streams to play in the background (as, indeed, AAC streams already can be) without running another app in the background. I imagine this was one of the reasons Apple bought LaLa...
     
  23. KidPub macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2009
    #23
    Already there

    The OS already multitasks, it's just that there isn't a way to manipulate running processes without jailbreaking. Phone, iPod, and Mail run in the background on a stock 3GS along with a few dozen other processes.

    [​IMG]

    Perry
     
  24. kdarling macrumors demi-god

    kdarling

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2007
    Location:
    First university coding class = 46 years ago
    #24
    First, a note to White Car: I don't think anyone was trying to be rude to you. Your post was simply ambiguous. Remember, sarcasm rarely comes across correctly on the web :)

    As for multitasking and games, most should pause when not in focus, I agree. However, I used to let FlightSim run in the background on other computers on long "trips" while I did something else. So it's not a hard and fast rule.

    The Palm Pre pretty much did it correctly, because the user can easily see what apps are "filling up" their device. This is a model that users can understand and relate to real life, as they know that the more accessories they have on in a car or house, the more resources they use.

    Apple could also simply keep doing what they started with: catering to the lowest denominator of casual user. Once the user graduates, they move to a different device. Same as with stereo systems, or other appliances.
     
  25. Carniphage macrumors 68000

    Carniphage

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2006
    Location:
    Sheffield, England
    #25
    While I think users can cope with the idea of filling a limited-sized device with songs or applications - I am less comfortable with the idea that the performance of the device is a resource and can be used up.

    When I launch an application, I want to think that application is getting 100% of the available performance. And not having to fight for its share of the CPU.

    Most engineers are very comfortable with this idea:
    Problem: My videogame is slow
    Solution: Quit the stupid animated weather app!

    But typical consumers are more likely to blame the game, or the device. The idea that some other mis-behaving app is to blame is not "natural" at all.

    I think there are two quite distinct benefits presented by multi-tasking.
    1) Is instant task switching and resume.
    2) Some kind of ongoing background activity.

    My guess is that Apple will offer both of these - as part of OS4.0
    But the solution will not be the Palm / Android model.

    C.
     

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