More rumors have been flying about iPhone multitasking and people have been eating them up.
People say they want to keep all sorts of things running in the background, Twitter apps, documents, music apps, etc. But there are only a few categories of apps that make sense to run in the background.
What is the purpose of leaving a document viewer* running in the background? What value is it providing while consuming resources, yet not being visible to the user?
Apps that consume or emit data on behalf of the user DO make sense to run in the background. Music playing apps, geo-location apps, IM, … are appropriate. Facebook and its bretheren aren’t. Push notifications are sufficient for them.
The other half of the multitasking question is keeping the user in control of those invisible processes The UI for this isn’t tricky. We don’t need a task viewer. Much like the number badges that push notifications use on the app icons, a backgrounded app would have another badge showing that it is still running. In addition, an app was approved to run in the background would have to have a clear way for the user to fully exit the app within the app itself.
So, let’s have some multitasking, but let’s not get carried away thinking we can background anything we want. If Apple were to allow that, the user experience would suffer and the phone would be sluggish and crashy.
*Document viewer here means anything that displays static or snap-shot data i.e. Web browser, social media viewers (Tweetie, facebook, myspace, etc. )