Author: Michael Evans
Steve Jobs' announcement of multitasking an hour or so ago came as little surprise to industry commentators. It would have been a major upset if the new OS had not included multitasking. And Jobs' assertion that they've found a way of doing it without excessive battery drain is certainly welcome. Let's hope that the other curse of multitasking, instability, is also kept at bay. Despite all the advance rumours, the actual announcement will have taken the wind out of the sails of the guys at Palm and other smartphone manufacturers who have use this iPhone shortcoming as a major plank in their advertising strategies. People who were otherwise pleased with their Apple devices will no longer have this temptation to switch.
Apple's implementation of multitasking is elegant and should be easy and fun to use. And the feature to enable entombment of individual apps, ready for instant resurrection, will be welcomed by many developers.
The introduction of multiple folders for the desktop, allowing apps to be grouped under one icon, is long overdue and will reduce the amount of navigation around the screens. It will be especially useful for those appthusiasts who have 2,000 apps to play with.
Personally, I'm delighted to see iBooks on the phone and the touch, although it's disappointing that we have to wait maybe six months to get it. In those six months Amazon will continue to make hay while the sun shines. Steve didn't sound too enthusiastic about iBooks for iPhone, either–at least not as keen as he was when he announced the iPad version. And the "wireless sync between platforms" sounds a bit lame to me. Anyone who has experienced the cloud sync of Amazon will not be happy to have to sync by wifi on the local network. For the moment, though, we'll give Apple the benefit of the doubt. Maybe Steve did mean sync over MobileMe, but I doubt it.
The unified mailbox for Mail is something else that has been long predicted and long missed. It's another of those improvements that will be welcomed by all users, especially business users who are now being courted by Apple in earnest. Enterprise enhancements were high on the list this today.
While I'm not a gamer and can say that I don't have a single game on my iPhone, I can see that the introduction of social gaming and other added features could be a major selling point for Apple. Already the iPhone and iPod touch have far more games available than any other platform, and there is obviously much potential here.
And the not-so-exciting
I don't much care for the iAd idea, though. Then I don't much care for having advertisements intrude on my iPhone user experience, especially when I've paid for an app. I shall keep quiet on this until I've experienced it, but for the moment this is something that is likely to appeal to developers more than to the poor old user.
There was one surprise for me: the apparent decision to soldier on with the "iPhone OS" name. Surely, I thought, Apple would take the opportunity to give is a new name to underline its status as the touch alternative to OS X. OS Touch or something like that would have a good move, I would have thought. It seems an anachronism to talk about the iPad or the iPod touch (and any other future devices) running the "iPhone OS". I suppose we'll just have to get used to it.