iPhone SDK Honeymoon Over – No Background Processes?!

Don’t get us wrong, we’re still huge fans of the way that Apple handled the iPhone SDK. For the most part, Apple really took the time to analyze existing platforms and the manner in which surrounding development is handled. They improved upon many areas, created a phenomenal system and incentivized developers tremendously. Now that the SDK is in the hands of the public however, it has been picked apart and some sour grapes are beginning to shake lose. Namely, this little tidbit uncovered by developer Robert Balousek:

Only one iPhone application can run at a time, and third-party applications never run in the background. This means that when users switch to another application, answer the phone, or check their email, the application they were using quits.

This, people, is remarkably bad news. The quote above is pulled from the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines document available on the SDK site. Translation: no true multitasking. Of course we know that the iPhone can multitask; just consider the apps we have now, or use Sysinfo to take a look through the running processes and you can see. Apparently however, third-party app developers will not be granted the necessary rights for their apps to make use of background processes. To further explain what this all means to the layperson, Balousek quotes: "If you are running an application such as AOL Instant Messenger on your iPhone, every time you receive a call or browse away from the application you would be signed out, you would lose any unread messages, and your conversations would end." This stipulation impacts an enormous number of potential iPhone apps and seriously stunts development. It stands to reason that Apple will eventually provide a workaround; Symbian for example, grants developers rights to restricted attributes for additional fees. In the meantime, expect to see a good amount of core smartphone functionality omitted on initial third-party app offerings.

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