iPhone OS 4.0: Multitasking

Finally. The feature I have wanted the most is finally coming to the iPhone. After watching the feature demo in the developer preview, I have concerns.

My first concern is about closing applications. When asked “How do you close apps?”, Scott Forstall replied “You don’t even have to worry about closing apps.” As far as I can tell, every application you launch, whether you intend to use them repeatedly or just one-time, end up in your multitask bar and have a saved state. Clicking the home button will simply take you Home, no longer closing non-core applications.

But what if I really want to be done with an application? In the case of Pandora, currently I just close the application when I am done and the audio quits. It now seems I will have to explicitly pause the radio station I am listening to, in order to be “done”, and the application will always just sit in the multitask bar. I guess this is livable, but what about one-time use applications? If I check the stock application just one time a day, I then have to hurdle it while multitask-switching between other applications?

Which brings me to my second concern. It seems the multitask bar can become overloaded with applications. What I am not seeing is the ability to remove applications from the bar. Maybe it’s there, and it simply wasn’t covered. They could make use of the press & hold action which invokes the wiggling icons with the ability to close, or maybe you can hold and drag off the bar, much like the dock on the Mac OS.

Here are some final observations and questions. In the demo, the applications Steve switched between were already loaded in the multitask bar, and there were a lot of them, which speaks to my first concern. I am wondering if the application order changes depending on use, placing the most recently used applications in the first few positions. If you cannot remove applications, how long do applications stay in the multitask bar? Do I have to restart my phone to clear the bar?

It remains to be seen if this is a giant leap forward, or simply two steps forward and one back.