I feel compelled to say this again: there is an easy way that Apple could address at least some, if not the majority, of user needs for "multitasking" if they simply allowed developers to plug into the three backgrounding apps you already have, Phone, SMS and iPod.
If, for instance, Skype could plug the VOIP side of their application into Phone, then all of the features people want Skype to have instantly appear. Since Phone is always running, it would keep you logged into Skype and thereby allow incoming calls at any time. It would also mean you could exit your conversation to use other apps, not get kicked off when another call comes in, and lets you use a single interface for all your calling duties.
Likewise, Skype's chat side should be plugged into the SMS app, which is already on its way to being renamed "Messages". Pandora would plug into iPod.
Yes, this would not solve problems with things like loopd, but it would still solve a LOT of problems with practically zero cost.
Apple already addressed the problems of Skype-like applications with iPhone OS 3.0. Those apps do not need to be running if they get a notification when they need it. There are applications that can't benefit from this. In many cases they do not need to run in the background as well, but receive notifications on location change, by a timer etc.
It is important to understand that that:
- iPhone OS IS a multitasking OS
- Apple's decision to disallow the always running applications for third parties is not done to intentionally abuse the user, neither it is made by idiots. Most of the people on this boards don't have the expertise to discuss whether it is the right decision or not. It is definitely a compromise and it is perfectly OK to complain regarding distinct user experience problems but not theorize on the matter without deeper understanding of the real problems.
- Whether the Pre design decisions and implementation are better than Apple's remain to be seen. Don't go too far with your conclusions when comparing a future product with a one year old (I would say almost two years old, in terms of processor and part of the hardware) product. Hold off your final judgment untill the Pre and the next iPhone actually ship.
- Everyone seems obsessed by the couple of possible but unproven advantages of the Pre/WebOS and don't see a number of obvious advantages of the old iPhone versus the future Pre.
- Even if the Pre turns out to be a superior device running a superior operating system, Palm will have hard time winning against Apple.
The advantages of the current iPhone against the yet-to-be released Pre are numerous, staring with the OpenGL ES/game development support, external device support (with iPhone OS 3.0), excellent syncing with the main computer via Mobile Me service (at least from the point of view of a mac user), mature developer tools and huge developer following, huge number of avilable applications, huge accessories ecosystem etc. etc. etc
Even some of the advertised Pre advantages are questionable. Could the hardware keyboard change it's style from enter-e-mail-style to enter-URL-style to Search/Nexr/Return button, to say nothing of the localization. You know, the US-only keyboard sucks for the majority of the world. Palm may ned to release localized versions at least for some countries, but that is yet another production/inventory problem they will need to manage.