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The iPhone Gets Multitasking (Sort Of)

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted July 1, 2010

Steve Jobs unveiled iPhone OS 4.0 today, in trademark dramatic fashion. Apple’s CEO laid out seven “tentpoles” (features) of the new OS in a much-hyped and well-attended press conference.

The update will roll out to iPhones this summer, and it’s a major overhaul. The big story is multitasking, which users have been begging Apple for since launch. Note: Multitasking will only work on 3GS model iPhones. Tough luck if you have a 3G or older phone. 

Steve Jobs explained that battery life was the bottleneck holding the iPhone back from multitasking, but they claim to have found a workaround that minimizes energy used by apps running in the background.

For now it won’t work with every app, but they’re working with developers to make more apps multitask-friendly. For now, I’ll be happy if I can stream Pandora and browse the web at the same time.

The New York Times’ Brad Stone is live-blogging the event. Here’s how he described the new multi-tasking feature:

In a demo, Mr. Jobs is showing a Web site, and when he double-clicks the home button on the iPhone, a bar at the bottom of the screen shows all the apps that are currently running.

He’s in the eBay application for the iPhone now, and switches over to the iPhone game Tap Tap Revenge. He double taps the home button, the bar of apps at the bottom of the screen opens up, and he switches to e-mail; and then back to the game, which picks up where he left off. “Its very easy to use, very efficient.”

Sounds good to me, it’s a huge improvement. One thing I’m curious about is how it’ll affect AT&T’s network. That’s gonna be a lot of extra demand on a 3G network that’s already overburdened.

iAds – Apple’s Ad Network

The other big announcement is iAds (doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?) — Apple’s own mobile advertising network. Ads will appear within applications, presumably only free ones. Application developers will have control over where and when ads appear, and get the majority of the revenue.

During the event, Steve Jobs showed a Target ad using video. It’ll be interesting to see how intrusive or annoying they are. I don’t think Apple will overdo it, they’re usually good about keeping their rabidly loyal fans happy.

Apple plans to pocket 40% of revenue from ads. That seems fairly high, but not totally unreasonable. Google takes around 20-30% from partner sites on their ad network.

Not much reaction in AAPL so far. As I’m writing at about 2:30 (about an hour after the press conference started) the stock is down .28%.

Other new features:

  • Camera zoom
  • Encrypt data with a PIN code
  • You can “gift” apps to others
  • Folders for apps
  • Custom desktops
  • E-Mail improvements for Exchange users

Also of note:

  • No support for Flash (ever)
  • Apple has sold 50 million iPhones worldwide
  • Sold 300,000 iPads on launch day, 450k total so far

I’ll keep this post updated as more details emerge.