Apple rumored allowing real background apps on iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
After leaving its once-touted background push data feature by the wayside, Apple is now reportedly mulling an option that would let iPhone apps run third-party background processes and give the phone true app multitasking.



The hint of a change in strategy was given to Mac Rumors, which now hears from unspecified sources that Apple is considering the switch away from its original approach and may let programs operate as "user selectable background processes."



Why such a move would occur isn't known. When the iPhone maker first unveiled background push notification at the Worldwide Developers Conference in 2008, the company famously chastised Microsoft and most other smartphone OS developers for challenging users with difficult solutions to quitting or switching between apps and suggested that then-current phones couldn't handle the task. Even so, the solution precludes background use of third-party apps that need always-on access, like radio or VoIP calling software.



At the June event, Apple said it considered background push notification an ideal compromise that would close apps but keep them "listening" for data through an Internet channel; an instant messaging app could signal that it has received new messages without having to stay open and chew up system time.



However, the company has since remained almost entirely silent on the matter. Where early iPhone 2.1 beta firmware included background notifications, the fourth developer test version pulled the feature altogether without any commentary on Apple's part beyond an alleged reply e-mail from CEO Steve Jobs, who stated that company wanted to get background push "100% right the first time." The official 2.1 and 2.2 releases have similarly passed on the feature while adding others.



While no additional evidence has come up to support theories that the delay is being used to implement true background processes, speculation has surfaced that Apple may have to wait until its next major iPhone revision to implement the necessary code. With a 412MHz ARM processor and only 128MB of temporary memory, the first- and second-generation iPhone lines may struggle to support more than one or two background apps before becoming unusable. If the feature requires a new ARM processor or additional memory to be useful, Apple could either restrict the number of third-party background processes on older models or else disable the feature entirely for these devices.



The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm may nonetheless be under pressure to add the support in spite of cutting off legacy hardware. In addition to existing competitors that already had background support but have only recently launched direct iPhone alternatives, Palm's new Pre smartphone will have more authentic multitasking in an iPhone-like interface by letting users shuffle or toss "cards" that represent active software.
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Comments

  • freakytfreakyt Posts: 11member
    I could definitely see Apple adding this only for their next generation phones, citing some fabricated hardware restriction.



    I certainly hope I'm wrong though.
  • malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FreakyT View Post


    I could definitely see Apple adding this only for their next generation phones, citing some fabricated hardware restriction.



    Because nothing a corporation says could ever be the truth? Or is it just Apple who you don't believe?
  • palegolaspalegolas Posts: 1,095member
    Since Apple sets the rules of what's in the app store they can set the rules and standards. Should they support bg tasks (which seems wise to a point) I expect them to give the developers the tools to easily go into bg mode, where only minimal resources and cpu cycles are given each app. Something like that...
  • virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FreakyT View Post


    I could definitely see Apple adding this only for their next generation phones, citing some fabricated hardware restriction. ...



    Dude, right in the article less than an inch above your comment it says:



    "... a 412MHz ARM processor and only 128MB of (RAM) ..."



    That's just reality; not fabricated at all.
  • macoldtimermacoldtimer Posts: 180member
    Now we're reading quotes from other rumor sites that have not confirmed anything?



    This article is nothing but speculation.



    Give me a fricking break and at least get some FACTS before quoting another rumor sites rumors.
  • hohlecowhohlecow Posts: 50member
    I'd like to see an API for registering data retrieval. Background apps would be nice, but I understand why you wouldn't want to have them, but I really would like NNW to be able to fetch news, Twitterific to fetch tweets, and AIM to fetch messages in the background. This could be done with push, but it puts a huge burden on app developers to provide a push service.



    A data retrieval API could allow an app to fetch along with the mail fetching schedule so the radio is only turned on once.
  • junkiejunkie Posts: 121member
    1) seem like Palm apps are all in webkit, so the resources needed are not as great.

    2) support bg tasks seems like it would require a boost in CPU. seems like iPhone just barely scrapes by with the current demand on the CPU.
  • nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    I like Apple's original solution--clean and efficient. I hope they complete that plan.



    For future, faster devices, "true" multitasking would be fine. But on current handhelds, I like an app in the background to be paused and not using resources--which is essentially how Apple's home screen works, as long as the app in question is properly designed to remember its state.
  • macoldtimermacoldtimer Posts: 180member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post


    I like Apple's original solution--clean and efficient. I hope they complete that plan.



    For future, faster devices, "true" multitasking would be fine. But on current handhelds, I like an app in the background to be paused and not using resources--which is essentially how Apple's home screen works, as long as the app in question is properly designed to remember its state.





    Let me get this straight. Since Apple can't deliver on it's promise for Push your willing to wait for the next phone and have to Pay For It.



    That's beyond FanBoy.



    If Apple can't deliver on it's plan because the phone doesn't have enough ram or processor power I'm going to be PISSED.



    They better make a solution for the phone I have and not the next phone otherwise it's FRAUD.



    They got sued 4 times this week alone just wait until they announce that the 3G isn't powerful enough to deliver as promised. The Class Action Lawsuits are going to be coming now from every country that has an iPhone.



    Apple get off your ass and give us what we paid for and you promised NOT what you think is right for us now.
  • virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacOldTimer View Post


    ... If Apple can't deliver on it's plan because the phone doesn't have enough ram or processor power I'm going to be PISSED. ... They better make a solution for the phone I have and not the next phone otherwise it's FRAUD. ... Apple get off your ass and give us what we paid for and you promised NOT what you think is right ...



    After reading your posts over the last year or so I'm starting to wonder if there is ever anything you are NOT pissed about.



    I'm guessing you hate puppy dogs, sunshine and smiling children as well?
  • macoldtimermacoldtimer Posts: 180member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    After reading your posts over the last year or so I'm starting to wonder if there is ever anything you are NOT pissed about.



    I'm guessing you hate puppy dogs, sunshine and smiling children as well?



    That means nothing coming from you. You Flop on a topic 20 times a posting at least Im consistent.



    And just like all other FanBoys you are going to defend Apple to the end regardless of how wrong it is (especially in this case).



    Apple get off your Ass and give me what I paid for with this phone not the next one.
  • delreyjonesdelreyjones Posts: 302member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacOldTimer View Post




    They better make a solution for the phone I have and not the next phone otherwise it's FRAUD.



    They got sued 4 times this week alone just wait until they announce that the 3G isn't powerful enough to deliver as promised. The Class Action Lawsuits are going to be coming now from every country that has an iPhone.



    Apple get off your ass and give us what we paid for and you promised NOT what you think is right for us now.



    Wow! Sounds like you bought on iPhone largely because of what Apple suggested it could do in the future, as opposed to what it was capable of doing at the time you bought it. Is that right? I buy things based on what they can do at the time of purchase, and then, if they get better with time, that's icing on the cake. Do you ever buy M$ products based on what Gates and Balmer say they'll be able to do in the future?
  • macoldtimermacoldtimer Posts: 180member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by delreyjones View Post


    Wow! Sounds like you bought on iPhone largely because of what Apple suggested it could do in the future, as opposed to what it was capable of doing at the time you bought it. Is that right? I buy things based on what they can do at the time of purchase, and then, if they get better with time, that's icing on the cake. Do you ever buy M$ products based on what Gates and Balmer say they'll be able to do in the future?



    Apple said that push would be out in September and yes I did base my purchase on this.

    I held out until it was announced as did many other people that realized that the 3G was useless to upgrade to without it and not worth the upgrade price.
  • freakytfreakyt Posts: 11member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    Dude, right in the article less than an inch above your comment it says:



    "... a 412MHz ARM processor and only 128MB of (RAM) ..."



    That's just reality; not fabricated at all.



    For any of you who have Jailbroken phones, you'll find that apps actually run quite well in the background on an iPhone 2G. So I'd say, yes, any restriction on Apple's part would indeed be a blatant fabrication. Of course, we're basically arguing over speculation here...



    (thanks to the work of these guys, at any rate: http://code.google.com/p/iphone-backgrounder/)
  • mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 6,813member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post


    After reading your posts over the last year or so I'm starting to wonder if there is ever anything you are NOT pissed about.



    I'm guessing you hate puppy dogs, sunshine and smiling children as well?



    It probably stems from the Newton being shut down. Most likely, he was one of the protestors I passed on my way into work, the day the lights went out on Newton and Newton OS.
  • talkshowonmutetalkshowonmute Posts: 58member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FreakyT View Post


    I could definitely see Apple adding this only for their next generation phones, citing some fabricated hardware restriction.



    I certainly hope I'm wrong though.



    Because its so wrong for a company to only implement features it sees fit for a particular device like it said if the current and previous iPhones just arent cut up to handle real multitasking why would apple release it to those products and lessen the publics opinion of an already pretty sweet product. Sometimes thats what you get for buying early i played around with a bunch of iphones and I bought an iPod touch for like a day until i decided that i idnt want the touch if the touch didnt have a phone lol.. Hopefully it brings something good Its coming out in June for my birthday on June 11th HEe hEe
  • mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,544member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacOldTimer View Post


    Apple said that push would be out in September and yes I did base my purchase on this.

    I held out until it was announced as did many other people that realized that the 3G was useless to upgrade to without it and not worth the upgrade price.



    Well if they said September and it's now February, why haven't you already sued for fraud? You can't sue a company for delaying a release or changing/dropping future features. If that were the case Microsoft would've been sued into the ground by this time.



    If you based your buying decision off of future feature sets rather than current features, then you took that risk. There may be many technical reasons as to why Apple never released the Push Notification System for the iPhone, we don't know. And although Steve said that the PNS would made available to developers in September of '08, he also said they wanna make sure it's working at 100%. There was obviously something wrong, otherwise they wouldn't have pulled it from subsequent developer seeds.



    Suing someone doesn't automatically make them guilty; these 3G lawsuits will more than likely be dismissed as ignorance on the part of the consumer. Apple doesn't own the 3G signal or network, they can only make potential claims. If the technology involved allows for up to twice the speed as EDGE, then they can in fact make that claim. Anyone who has ever connected to a network, should know that speed always varies. I've never had a network connection where the connection throughput was maxed out all the time... it just doesn't exist. Apple says a high-speed connection is required for certain things to function properly, should they be sued when Joe Public's high speed internet connection doesn't work with some of Apple's offerings, because it's a crappy connection? Not all... this is the same argument.
  • mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,544member
    The iPhone is perfectly capable of running background applications. There are many background processes running on the current version. The only thing Apple restricts is users running multiple applications and preventing applications from spawning their own background processes.



    I think a better way of handling 'keep alive' connections, is to allow some applications to go into a hibernate state, via some sort of user confirmation just as with allowing the 'use location services' in some applications.



    One thing I have noticed however, is that my mail and calendar notifications no longer seem like they're "pushed". When MobileMe started I would get little badge notifications even before I open up Mail, now I no longer do. Mail only updates itself when I open up individual mailboxes?
  • gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    ooh... can't wait for my battery to be drained even faster by some runaway cycle sucker.
  • arteckxarteckx Posts: 39member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacOldTimer View Post


    Apple said that push would be out in September and yes I did base my purchase on this.

    I held out until it was announced as did many other people that realized that the 3G was useless to upgrade to without it and not worth the upgrade price.



    Your bad. Push notification was a feature discussed with developers, not consumers. Even if all developers showed interest in adding push notification to their applications, there's no guarantee that specific developers would follow through with releasing the particular applications that you use with push support. Although, I suppose someone might want to file a suit against those developers too. Once again, buy for current features, but wait for future features to materialize if they're that important to you.



    Now, if you paid the $99 to join the developer program and all of your application concepts required the push notification service, so you're actually down $99, I might feel a little bit bad for you because getting done what you can is normally a good thing. However, the disclaimer of liability in the developer agreement takes care of that legally, so that's just a sad outcome of a known risk.
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