Multitasking coming to Windows Phone via 3rd party hack soon

With Microsoft in the middle of rolling out NoDo, and Mango being many months off yet, many are asking questions around why multitasking is taking so long to come to Windows Phone 7. Today, it appears that a developer has beaten Microsoft to the post, and has figured out how to implement 3rd party application multitasking without the help of Microsoft.

Windows Phone Hacker reports that the developer "JaxBot" has shown off his implementation of multitasking, which appears to work pretty well. The hack works when the user "half-presses" the camera button -- it opens and allows the user to select an application that is running -- then quickly switches to that application. It appears that they do run in the background, as JaxBot shows in his video a timer application that continues to count, even when away from the application. This hack could be a trick similar to the one that was recently shown off, where modifying a registry value allows for applications to continue running in the background, under a locked screen (which also, funnily enough, was developed by JaxBot).

It appears the homebrew scene for Windows Phone is gaining momentum, with Chris Walsh releasing a hack to allow any Windows Phone to update to NoDo last week, among other recent changes. JaxBot hasn't provided a release date for the application yet, and we're told not to bet on the UI being final either. Keep an eye on his Twitter for future updates.

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29 Comments

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Multitasking is already something Microsoft promised to deliver, so replicating that is a waste of time, IMO.

I'd rather see the WP7 homebrew community dedicate their time to better endeavors, like hacking LG's DNLA to other phones, A2DP for video, and text messages/game save backup, to name a few.

It's funny how Symbian is the so-called 'worst' Smartphone OS, but is the only OS with a fully functional (pc-like) multitasking function built-in...

Ambroos said,
It's funny how Symbian is the so-called 'worst' Smartphone OS, but is the only OS with a fully functional (pc-like) multitasking function built-in...

And windows mobile too. Flawless multitasking.

FMH said,

And windows mobile too. Flawless multitasking.

Windows Mobile had very good multitasking, and it never affected battery life as Steve Jobs and Microsoft fear(ed) that it would on so-called modern smartphone OSes. With iOS having task-switching and multitasking services that work efficiently, I'd say that it's about time Microsoft does the same soon.

On another note, Windows Mobile's multitasking was flawed, in that it discouraged app closing in favor of letting the OS self-manage open applications. I hated having to use a task manager (as many now have to on Android). This behavior was tolerable on my old Q9h until I would want to browse the web while playing Windows Media Player in the background, as every so often a big webpage would eat up just enough memory to make the OS decide to close WMP mid-song. It wasn't a flawless multitasking capability, but it was pretty close.

xpxp2002 said,

On another note, Windows Mobile's multitasking was flawed, in that it discouraged app closing in favor of letting the OS self-manage open applications. I hated having to use a task manager (as many now have to on Android).

No one has to use a task manager on Android. In fact, using one is worse for battery life than not using one. Android's multi tasking works the way that Windows Mobile's multi tasking was MEANT to work.
Applications are kept in RAM when you switch out (unless you use the back button, that usually closes them) and the least recently used applications are unloaded when RAM is required. This works flawlessly on Android. This is how Windows Mobile was supposed to work from what Microsoft said, but it never actually did work like that. It would slow down and fail to close things correctly.

Ambroos said,
It's funny how Symbian is the so-called 'worst' Smartphone OS, but is the only OS with a fully functional (pc-like) multitasking function built-in...

My old Sony Ericsson dumb-phone did full multitasking 4 years ago...

JonathanMarston said,

My old Sony Ericsson dumb-phone did full multitasking 4 years ago...

and the Sony Ericsson phones also had copy/paste, which is now considered as a special feature

singularity0821 said,

and the Sony Ericsson phones also had copy/paste, which is now considered as a special feature

Indeed. I sold my €509 Xperia Arc yesterday and went back to my old SE dumbphone, still works better in my opinion.

Ambroos said,

Indeed. I sold my €509 Xperia Arc yesterday and went back to my old SE dumbphone, still works better in my opinion.

Flawed said,
It's sad that a hack is required to do the things other smart phone users take for granted.

Yeah, but lets be honest, Androids multitasking is a joke. Microsoft is actually thinking about their implementation

Owen W said,

Yeah, but lets be honest, Androids multitasking is a joke. Microsoft is actually thinking about their implementation

How is it a joke?

Owatonna said,

How is it a joke?


It's not well implemented at all. I accidentally fell over it one time, around 6 months after using the phone. Random switch screen thing, not overly attractive or great to use.

Owatonna said,

How is it a joke?


it only lets you goto the last 8 applications. proswitcher for ios or webOS are ideal for multitasking.

Owen W said,

Yeah, but lets be honest, Androids multitasking is a joke. Microsoft is actually thinking about their implementation

It's clear you just didn't know how to use your phone properly. Android's solution is the most complete in the smartphone game, and it allows for proper support for services.

Owen W said,

It's not well implemented at all. I accidentally fell over it one time, around 6 months after using the phone. Random switch screen thing, not overly attractive or great to use.

What are you talking about it? It works fine. The back button on the first page of the app closes it, while switching out (either by pressing home or pressing and holding home) leaves it running in the background if it is designed to do so.

Holding the home button brings up a list of the last 8 applications you launched, so you can easily switch back and fourth.

I don't see how it doesn't work well.

mrp04 said,

What are you talking about it? It works fine. The back button on the first page of the app closes it, while switching out (either by pressing home or pressing and holding home) leaves it running in the background if it is designed to do so.

Holding the home button brings up a list of the last 8 applications you launched, so you can easily switch back and fourth.

I don't see how it doesn't work well.

Wow... I never thought I'd see a comment about Android multitasking being bad. I've done SO much with Android's multitasking that would have taken me a LOTTTTTT longer to do on iOS (saving a picture from e-mail, upload it to my server via FTP, post it on a site by editing .php file, checking it out in the browser). When I did it the first time, I was amazed that it didn't take long at all (I had come from an iOS device where it was nearly impossible).

And hey, I didn't have to install anything extra (multitasking ... I did install AndFTP) -- it was just built in.

And to think, before I got my Android device I wanted an iPhone. Would never even consider it anymore.

Owen W said,

It's not well implemented at all. I accidentally fell over it one time, around 6 months after using the phone. Random switch screen thing, not overly attractive or great to use.

Random switch screen? I personally haven't tried iOS or WP7 but from what I hear Android multitasking is TRUE multitasking unlike the iPhones.

I don't see how its not attractive or hard to use at all either. I think it's implemented brilliantly. What version did you use it on?

Well I'm glad that Microsoft is planning out their mobile feature. Android multitasking is a joke. It lags everything after ten minutes of usage. iOS and WP7 offer a much more smoother experience by limiting its multitask feature until better solution are found. I threw the piece of **** that the G1 was after lagging so much and never looked back. I don't want to ****ing manage my phone to make it run smooth. The phone should be 'smart' enough to know manage what programs should run in the background and which shouldn't. IM, music, stock, etc apps alike should only be able to run in the background due to its nature. Other bull**** ifart should not be able to multitask.

I think MS should have a review of each app submitted to see whether it should be allowed to multitask w hen it hits the marketplace.

Owen W said,

It's not well implemented at all.

According to you that goes for just about anything that doesn't carry a Microsoft logo.

.Neo said,

According to you that goes for just about anything that doesn't carry a Microsoft logo.

No. I have to handed it to Apple that it implanted the right type of multitasking on the iPhone.

Owen W said,

It's not well implemented at all. I accidentally fell over it one time, around 6 months after using the phone. Random switch screen thing, not overly attractive or great to use.

It's only a joke that you've failed to realize there are apps like wave launcher and dock4droid that make the experience amazing.

Owen W said,

It's not well implemented at all. I accidentally fell over it one time, around 6 months after using the phone. Random switch screen thing, not overly attractive or great to use.

You do realize that your attempts to make it sound hard to use are only making you look like a fool for not being able to use it. Although I wouldn't expect anything else from a tech "journalist"

Owen W said,

It's not well implemented at all. I accidentally fell over it one time, around 6 months after using the phone. Random switch screen thing, not overly attractive or great to use.

I hope you're not the actual author of this article. If so, it's sad you can contribute to Neowin considering your naivety. You're not even describing androids multitask function. "Switch screen thing"! Wrong! That's a completely separate function. You hold the home button, and your last eight apps pop up.

Subject Delta said,
It's clear you just didn't know how to use your phone properly. Android's solution is the most complete in the smartphone game, and it allows for proper support for services.
Steve Jobs defending Android?

Android provides the most complete multitasking solution, but it is not the best solution. It allows poorly developed applications (many) to run rampant in the background. This hurts battery life and even hurts performance of running apps while the processor wastes cycles needlessly on background processes, as well as constraining memory unnecessarily.

From a user's perspective, multitasking on iOS and WP7 will act identically for most applications. Applications that actually need to run in the background have access to do so through the APIs. And applications that do not need to run in the background (e.g., that note taking app) can simply be written to the disk and brought back as necessary. This enables all running apps to have the maximum amount of resources, rather than hoping that your user did not startup a poorly written monster in the background. The example above, where the user had to take a picture, upload it, and then modify a file simply would be difficult if not given the right apps. None of the example depends on Android's multitasking implementation.

Similar to Android reworking copy/paste in 2.3 (funny how that's overlooked when it comes up with regards to WP7, especially now that NoDo is out and all users are getting it in the next week or two), I fully expect Android to rework multitasking for the benefit of the user, rather than the benefit of the developer.

.Neo said,

According to you that goes for just about anything that doesn't carry a Microsoft logo.

That's funny coming from you.