Multitasking is one “feature” I have surely been taking for granted. Multitasking has been one of the greatest personal computing innovations since the graphic user interface. Sitting at your Mac or PC right now, try to imagine only being able to do one thing at a time. Pretend that you are writing a blog post. You aren’t done yet, but you want to send out a tweet. Imagine if you couldn’t work on these two simple tasks simultaneously?
Now, break out your iPhone. This is reality. And when you break out your iPad in March, it’s also going to be reality. The title of this post suggests that Apple has redefined multitasking and that is true, but not for the better. Apple redefined multitasking simply by taking it away. The way I multitask on the iPhone is not working on two things simultaneously, but rather, choosing which thing to do first. So, I suppose Apple has replaced multitasking with prioritization. The way Apple has kind of brushed aside multitasking is rather scary. We are already stuck in its walled garden of applications and games that only make it to us if an Apple employee approves them. Okay, fine. But why this want and need to regress one of the biggest PROGRESSIONS in modern day computing.
I have some ideas for why Apple has omitted multitasking for so long, but no answer is good enough. Is it because its in-house battery development isn’t good enough to support it? I’m sure that’s part of it. Is the iPhone OS not stable enough? Probably not, as I constantly end up with less than 10MB of RAM free after less than a day of popping in and out of apps on my iPhone 3Gs as it is. Still, none of these issues are a good enough reason to omit multitasking from Apple’s already closed off computing experiences.
I feel like a person who just un-jacked from the Matrix. I am taking a step back from being “content” in using Apple’s closed products. I’m scared. I am writing this on my MacBook Pro. Is Apple going to take all of my computing freedom on this thing too, one day? Whatever happened to having a uniform experience across products? As an iPhone user and a potential iPad user, I am concerned about the lack of multitasking. Is Apple just seeing dollar signs in this area? Is it saying “Well, we sold 75 million iPhones without multitasking so…”? I think many of us buy these products with the idea Apple will make them better in many ways over time. Even if Apple introduced multitasking on its mobile devices SOON, it would still be three years too late. I have already used my iPhone for three years without multitasking, save for the times I jailbroke. That’s a long time to not be as productive as I possibly could.
This is a regression of technology and it’s not good. I’m scared. All I want to do is “jack back in” and be happy, but I need multitasking. I’m a geek. I will not accept an oversimplified computing experience. Apple needs to turn this around and realize that there are way too many of us out here that need “PRO” features, whether they be software or hardware. Yet, multitasking isn’t a PRO feature… is it? It’s a BASIC feature… right? It comes standard on almost every other platform of computing. Are we in the Twilight Zone? Am I dreaming? Is this line secure?
So how about you? Can you live without multitasking any longer? I don’t know about you, but my productivity is suffering.