I have been an iPhone user for many years when iOS was called ‘iPhone OS’ and had no homescreen wallpaper or multitasking at all. In 2010, iOS 4 brought multitasking to iPhone for the first time and it was a massive expansion, but 10 years later, things haven’t progressed much in that regard since then. I think it’s time for Apple to finally take multitasking on the iPhone to the next level.
Let’s start at the very beginning. Before iOS 4, it was not possible to run an app other than phone calls and background music on iPhone. If you closed an app, it ended immediately after pressing the home button. This was understandable since the first iPhone and iPhone 3G only had 128 MB of RAM (yes, you read it correctly, megabytes).
As the iPhone hardware evolved, Apple decided to implement a multitasking system in iOS. It was a basic but important feature for iPhone users. For the first time, we were able to switch between apps without losing content.
If I were playing a game and then someone texted me, I could pause the game, answer it, and then go back to where I left off. It was fine 10 years ago, especially when you look at the hardware and small screen of these old iPhones, but then Apple never improved multitasking in iOS again.
Sure, the app switch has been redesigned. We now have interactive Siri notifications, but the idea of multitasking on iPhone is still the same as it was in 2010. You have to stop what you are doing to do something different. Even if, like me, you have the giant iPhone 11 Pro Max with the impressive A13 Bionic chip, you’re still stuck in a multitasking system of the past decade.
A few months ago I was in an Uber and saw a live TV show on my iPhone. I was very upset because I couldn’t comment on it with my friends or post anything on Twitter. If I did, the video would stop playing immediately. This is no problem on the iPad, for example, with a split screen, slide over and picture-in-picture.
What is ‘Pro’ on an iPhone besides a larger screen and a telephoto lens? I want to be able to text someone while I’m watching a video. I want to drag and drop content between apps, open a website without leaving the conversation, and the like.
I would be happy to only have Picture-in-Picture on my iPhone, but I know Apple can do a lot more. The smallest iPhone available today, with the exception of the iPhone SE, has a 5.8-inch display – and rumors suggest an even larger 6.7-inch version later this year. Think about how iOS can benefit from it.
To find a solution to my personal problem I mentioned earlier, I found a web browser for iOS called iOS ‘Dual’ This way, you can open multiple windows side by side on iPhone. It’s not perfect, but it works and I wanted more iPadOS features on my iPhone, such as the ability to use two apps at the same time.
Of course, this is not intended for real work or to make the iPhone the next ‘PC replacement’. An iPhone would still be an iPhone, and some tasks are still better for an iPad or Mac. However, as iPhone hardware continues to advance, it deserves some real “pro” features to make our lives easier.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence that Apple is working on these features for iOS 14, but I hope for the WWDC in June. What do you think? Do you want a better multitasking system in iOS? Let me know in the comments below.