With the introduction of the iOS, the iPhone and iPad have the ability to now multitask applications. This is a great advancement for both the iPhone and iPad devices as it allows us to truly use them to their full computing potential. So what is multi-tasking? Multitasking is the ability to run and interact with one application while another application is running in the background. Many other smart phones such as Android and WebOS phones have had this capability but it took Apple a while to introduce their own version to the iOS devices. Here is the skinny on iPhone multi-tasking:

iPhone and iPad Multitasking

iPhone multi-taskMultitasking only works with newer devices and the newer versions of the iOS operating system. Specifically the iPhone 3GS and newer phones, the iPad and the iPod touch 3rd generation and newer can multitask. All devices must upgrade to iOS to enable this feature. To start multitasking, you just need to be using one application, push the home button and then start another application. In the old versions of the the iPhone, this would just stop the first application and start the second. With multitasking, if the first application has been written to support multitasking it is held in memory and some background processes are allowed to run (more on that below) while the second application runs. To switch from the second application to the first, you just push the home button twice and the app-switching tray displays on the button of the screen. This tray shows of the applications the iOS device has in memory. You can select one of them and the application you were just using goes into background while the selected application becomes available for use. The application you were just using is now stored in memory and you can switch back and forth faster than stopping and starting an application. For the most part however, the background applications are not running as this saves the device's battery life. Some programs have the ability to run in the certain special features in background that add even more powerful capabilities to iPhone multitasking.

Background Services

iPad and iPhone background services allows the user to run applications in the background while you interact with another application. Why would you want to do this? It can make your device much more useful. For example you can listening to a music application besides iTunes while you browse the internet. The developers of the applications have to specifically add these features to their apps and there are only a limited number of features or services can be run in the background. The list of available services are:
  • Background Audio – Playing music while application in the background. For example, you can run Pandora or Stitcher while you read an ebook.
  • Push Notifications – The ability for a background app to notify you when it has received new mail or update.
  • Background Location – The ability for an app to continue to provide location information such as driving directions while it is in the background. This is mostly used by navigation programs and great for people who like to listen to music but need turn by turn directions on at the same time.
  • Task Completion – This allows an app to complete specific tasks as it is put into background. A good example of this is to allow an app to upload or download content while you use another app.
  • Background VoIP – This allows an app to continue a VoIP call while you run another app much like a regular phone call. Now you can look up a persons address during a Skype call.
  • Local Notification – Apps can be built to send notifications even though they are in the background. For example, a timer program or alarm clock can notify you that it is time to wake up from your nap while you listen to a music application.

Other iPhone Tricks