Friday, October 30, 2009

The iPhone can't multi-task... yet.

There seems to be a theme developing that the iPhone is at risk from Android because it "can't" run background processes.

Case in point.

C'mon; it's OS X under there. It's not that Apple couldn't support background processes, it's that they chose not to, probably for reasons related to power consumption and stability.

I see one of two likely developments:

* Android phones demonstrate longevity or reliability problems when loaded with apps running in the background, and Apple's decision looks brilliant.

* Android does OK, and Apple wakens the background capability that's always been there and they've been fine-tuning all along, and the Android advantage is nullified.

I can't accept the possibility that Apple can't support multi-tasking in an OS that's already good at it.

I have always laughed at the notion of an "ideal" laptop, because a portable, battery-powered platform is ultimately an exercise in compromises. Performance, longevity, screen size, capacity, and features are always at odds with cost, compactness and weight. The same tradeoffs apply to phones. Apple and its competitors are working under the same restrictions, and the best any of them can do is advance one set or more features at the expense of one or more limitations. Apple is demonstrably good at this game, and any time they appear to be beat on one feature axis, one should look at where the tradeoff has been made.

The Droid has not been tested in the wild yet. I'm waiting until we have a real head-to-head comparison, and Apple's response.

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