iPhone OS 4 to get 'Exposé-like' multi-tasking?

The next version of Apple's mobile operating system, iPhone OS 4.0, is set to finally allow third party applications to run in the background via an Exposé-like interface. Sources close to Apple have confirmed the presence of an OS X-like window management system that will allow users to switch between different applications running in the background.

AppleInsider describes the interface as an integration of OS X's Exposé and application switcher interface (cmd+tab):

"Those familiar with the design of iPhone 4.0 said that the user interface will resemble Apple's desktop Expose feature, in that a key combination -- reportedly hitting the Home button twice -- will trigger an expose-like interface that brings up a series of icons representing the currently running apps, allowing users to quickly select the one they want to switch to directly. When a selection is made, the iPhone OS zooms out of the Expose task manager and transitions to that app."

Exposé on Mac OS X currently resizes all open windows to fit the display, but because of the iPhone's smaller screen and its single window application design, Apple engineers decided instead to just use application icons to switch between different apps.

Since the iPhone unveiling back in January 2007, Apple has taken quite a bit of criticism for not allowing third party applications to run in the background. The XNU kernel in iPhone OS does currently provide preemptive multitasking, but Apple limits it to their own built-in apps like Safari or Mail. Competitors such as Palm WebOS, Google Android, Windows Mobile, RIM Blackberry OS, and Nokia's Symbian OS all have had the ability to run any app in the background, though Microsoft seems to be taking a different route with their upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series operating system. 

Other features also reported to be present in OS 4 are a universal mailbox and the ability to pin individual contacts directly to the homescreen.

Apple is rumored to unveil the next iPhone and iPhone OS at their annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) that they often hold in June. It was also reported a few days go that Apple would unveil a new CDMA-based "iPhone HD" with an Apple A4 SoC, 960x640 display, and a front facing camera on June 22. 

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I'm sure having expose on iPhone would
be nothingless than terrific. Everyone above who said the 3GS and rumored iPhone HD don't have high enough resolution must be a little biased when it comes to iPhone. The 3GS's dpi is actually higher than my laptop running 1920x1200 on it's 15.4 inch display.

It's not really biased...the DPI may be higher but you still have substantially less pixels and screen real estate. Also its the same deal as comparing TV's to LCD monitors, the DPI needs to be smaller the closer you get. You wouldnt sit an arms length from a 50" TV nor would you hold your phone at a meter or so to use it.

Anyhow that said, the resolution is fine. They have a swipe thing for the web browser and as noted in the article, app icons could do it fine too. The screens not THAT limited pixel wise.

Front facing camera... WTF, why??? video calling... hmmm, gimmicky novelty that wore off after 10 seconds of use.. unless theres other application?

Maybe athe apple devs need to look at some of the JB apps that provide multitasking..lol...

Video calling via phone and via Skype on a phone is not just a gimmick (unless you think the whole concept of video conferencing is a gimmick), and I'm guessing once it's available on the iPhone it will be much more commonly used.

That being said, there are other applications. One that just popped into my head was a portable digital mirror (probably more useful for the ladies, but none the less).

Another application would be active security monitoring. The front camera could constantly check to see if the intended user is viewing the phone, and if it recognizes a third party looking at the phone, it could stop functioning or black the screen, etc.

DrScouse said,
Front facing camera... WTF, why??? video calling... hmmm, gimmicky novelty that wore off after 10 seconds of use.. unless theres other application?

Maybe athe apple devs need to look at some of the JB apps that provide multitasking..lol...


Video calling will be interesting. Taking pics of you also, don't tell me you never did that. People always take pics with friends with their cellphones in parties and they never know where the camera is looking at. It gives bad pictures, well this will be fixed.

PsykX said,

Video calling will be interesting. Taking pics of you also, don't tell me you never did that. People always take pics with friends with their cellphones in parties and they never know where the camera is looking at. It gives bad pictures, well this will be fixed.

Usually just ask someone else to take it! Plus I doubt a front facing camera would be anywhere near the same res as the dedicated camera...

Im all for video conferencing, as I work in data comms... but using appropriate technology, not a mobile phone.. Would you really hold a video conference holding a phone in front of your face..??? The term conference suggests many people, holding a one to one video call is a gimmick...

sabrex said,
Video calling via phone and via Skype on a phone is not just a gimmick (unless you think the whole concept of video conferencing is a gimmick), and I'm guessing once it's available on the iPhone it will be much more commonly used.

oh sure, as if holding the phone in front of your face were such a comfortable way to make a call. Now you not only lose attention span by taking a call, your hands are also tied and can't even take a poop while on the phone.

Exposé on the iPhone would be overkill. A simple ALT+TAB equivalent to switch between open apps is more than sufficient. When it comes to multitasking Palm's webOS strikes the perfect balance between functionality and ease of use.

just_laze said,
Exposé on the iPhone would be overkill. A simple ALT+TAB equivalent to switch between open apps is more than sufficient. When it comes to multitasking Palm's webOS strikes the perfect balance between functionality and ease of use.

Thats what it is:
You have multiple apps open.
You have a app open, eg : mail
You press home twice
and icons of the available apps appear on the equivelent of the multitouch dashboard
so if you have 4 apps open only 4 apps appear on the dashboard instead of the usual 12 or so

evo_spook said,

Thats what it is:
You have multiple apps open.
You have a app open, eg : mail
You press home twice
and icons of the available apps appear on the equivelent of the multitouch dashboard
so if you have 4 apps open only 4 apps appear on the dashboard instead of the usual 12 or so

Home twice is iPod controls atm and is rather useful!

The iPhone OS is really falling behind with features this year, by this holiday season we will have phones with Flash support, XBox Live integration and maybe even higher resolution than the rumored iPhone HD, not a good timing to get distracted by releasing some giant iPod touch variation if you ask me.

tonyunreal said,
The iPhone OS is really falling behind with features this year, by this holiday season we will have phones with Flash support, XBox Live integration and maybe even higher resolution than the rumored iPhone HD, not a good timing to get distracted by releasing some giant iPod touch variation if you ask me.

Flash..is it android that have that?

because Winmo7 wont.

tonyunreal said,
The iPhone OS is really falling behind with features this year, by this holiday season we will have phones with Flash support, XBox Live integration and maybe even higher resolution than the rumored iPhone HD, not a good timing to get distracted by releasing some giant iPod touch variation if you ask me.

Flash support - not on win mo
xbox live integration - can't see the point
higher resolution - eyes are only see so much detail

bobbba said,
xbox live integration - can't see the point
higher resolution - eyes are only see so much detail
Really? I mean, really?The iPhone's resolution is not that high. Integration to one of the biggest online gaming hubs is massive. Downloads, gamerscores, communication. Yeah. Can't see the point. *sigh*

The iPhone is good, but jeez, don't get silly in defence of it.

Edited by Kirkburn, Mar 31 2010, 10:00pm :

Kirkburn said,
Really? I mean, really?The iPhone's resolution is not that high. Integration to one of the biggest online gaming hubs is massive. Downloads, gamerscores, communication. Yeah. Can't see the point. *sigh*

The iPhone is good, but jeez, don't get silly in defence of it.

Do you REALLY see the pixels on your iPhone screen? Because I don't.
And the next iPhone is rumoured to have 4x as many pixels as the current iPhone.

PsykX said,

Do you REALLY see the pixels on your iPhone screen? Because I don't.
And the next iPhone is rumoured to have 4x as many pixels as the current iPhone.

Have you tried a phone with a higher resolution screen? You can easily see how much better they are.

Kirkburn said,
Really? I mean, really?The iPhone's resolution is not that high. Integration to one of the biggest online gaming hubs is massive. Downloads, gamerscores, communication. Yeah. Can't see the point. *sigh*

The iPhone is good, but jeez, don't get silly in defence of it.

Try again, he referred to the iPhone HD's resolution *sigh*

I'd hope that the button combo changes, or you can change it. What about us with 1st gens who use the double press to change volume fast, or will it just not work with music playing?

Maybe holding the sleep button, and double pressing home would be good. Or double press sleep...

Tanshin said,
I'd hope that the button combo changes, or you can change it. What about us with 1st gens who use the double press to change volume fast, or will it just not work with music playing?

Maybe holding the sleep button, and double pressing home would be good. Or double press sleep...

...or simply swipe up or down when viewing apps?

richardsim7 said,

...or simply swipe up or down when viewing apps?

Never thought of that... it'd be nice if they did the multi-touch swipe they have on the MacBooks. Even though I don't have a newer model of MacBook, from what I've used it's very convenient.

Tanshin said,

Never thought of that... it'd be nice if they did the multi-touch swipe they have on the MacBooks. Even though I don't have a newer model of MacBook, from what I've used it's very convenient.

Yeah it really is

richardsim7 said,

Yeah it really is

It's definitely better than hitting F3 or Cmd+F3... etc

That's what I really don't understand. Why they changed the F9, F10, and F11 functions (and I guess F12... but that's not a big deal). I'm so used to the F9-11 keys on my MacBook, and when I use one that changed the key, and before the multi-touch trackpad, it really throws me off.

Tanshin said,
I'd hope that the button combo changes, or you can change it. What about us with 1st gens who use the double press to change volume fast, or will it just not work with music playing?

Maybe holding the sleep button, and double pressing home would be good. Or double press sleep...

I doubt OS 4.0 will support the 1st gen iPhones - the technology is too old.

bbfc_uk said,

I doubt OS 4.0 will support the 1st gen iPhones - the technology is too old.

What about iPods... Mine still works fine and I see no reason to upgrade. Plus, I'd lose my progress in Myst... even though it's my Xth play-through.

If it is "Exposé-like" then you can pretty much bet on multitasking NOT coming to the iPhone 3GS. With such a low screen resolution it wouldn't be useful. I'm hoping that they do have multitasking for the 3GS in the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0, but I'm not holding my breath. It would be nice, but I would still love my iPhone.

Shadrack said,
With such a low screen resolution it wouldn't be useful.

The next iPhone is rumoured to have 4x the resolution of the iPhone 3GS. This means, twice as many pixels vertically, and twice as many pixels horizontally. 2x2=4 times as many pixels.

PsykX said,

The next iPhone is rumoured to have 4x the resolution of the iPhone 3GS. This means, twice as many pixels vertically, and twice as many pixels horizontally. 2x2=4 times as many pixels.

And...?

My comment was specific to the iPhone 3GS. I couldn't have been clearer.