Four Things I Dig About iOS 4 (Background Slacker!)

I’ve been sporting iPhone OS 4 iOS4 several weeks now. And, as I said when first announced, the addition of folders and background tasks pretty much makes the iPhone experience feature complete. Oh, I still demand an improved alerts system and home screen widgets (as seen on Android) would be nice, but there’s no more gaping hole that need to be filled. Supposedly the update brings 1500 new features… but your number is dependent upon hardware platform. For example, it turns out iPhone 3G owners won’t be treated to custom wallpaper. And, of course, only iPhone 4 hardware is capable of FaceTime video conferencing.

Background Tasks
The top new feature of iOS 4 has to be background tasks. The iPhone doesn’t mutlitask in the traditional sense, but Apple’s SDK hooks allow specific, supported background functions. And the one I care most about is the ability to stream music while checking email, browsing the web, or jogging with RunKeeper. While the general populace will have to wait a bit longer, I’ve been jamming to a pre-release Slacker build (v2.1.4) while doing all of the above. Priceless!

There’s not much to say here (other than “about frickin’ time”). I went from over a dozen screens of apps to just two. Creating and managing folders is a snap. Although those miniaturized icons are near useless visual representations. Then again, perhaps a retina display and glasses would allow me to appreciate them.

Bluetooth Keyboard
Not only does iOS 4 bring Bluetooth keyboard capabilities to the iPhone platform, it does so in a silky smooth fashion. In my brief testing, I was astonished by how flawlessly wireless keyboarding responds. No lag, no missed keystrokes, immediate entry. And I’ve started to imagine an iPad-less iOS blogging platform. At the very least, I should be able to efficiently crank out drafts just about anywhere without having my laptop present. (Which makes the EVO, with humongo screen, all the more maddening. Where are the native BT HID drivers?)

Speedy Camera
While many have mentioned the iPhone camera’s new digital zoom (of dubious value), I’ve got a possibly more significant observation. That I’m willing to acknowledge may merely be psychological. Having said that, it sure feels like the camera snaps pictures much quicker. And I’m anxiously awaiting related reviews of the new 5 megapixel shooter found in the iPhone 4 – as its performance is among my primary purchasing criteria.

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8 thoughts on “Four Things I Dig About iOS 4 (Background Slacker!)”

  1. I really want some background network tickle, that will be key in the future. Is that even in the API as yet?

  2. Multitasking – wow!

    I’d like to officially welcome the iPhone ( and Dave ) to the year 2010, after it languished for so long in the late 90’s.

    Maybe someday, the iPhone will allow apps background access to the internet!


  3. tivoboy, I’m not sure of the exact specifications. What exactly are you trying to get done? Something like background uploading to the Internet is already in play I believe.

    PeteyNice, Not as of today. If they did go down that path, I could imagine them keeping the connection alive and streaming audio-only in the background until the app resumes, at which point they could re-provision the video stream.

    Todd, Shoot, welcome me to like 2002. I’ve been running Windows CE/Windows Mobile for centuries now… ;)

  4. @DZ. I’m looking for something that will update automatically, like a stock screening app or portfolio app and COULD then push up an alert. Also, I’d like to have something like the alternative textfree apps, be able to continue to receive updates in real time, not sure if they DO/Will with the current ios4, they haven’t been updated YET. I also want to know if skype can remain on standby, and RECEIVE calls to the device or at least alert/push to me that a CALL is coming in on that channel and not the regular voice dec. These things are going to be key

  5. Background Slacker! Other than station caching, this is the other feature I’ve been waiting for… (Well I do have a few ideas for UI enhancements.)

    Can’t wait.

  6. Thx Dave. The data caps pushed me away but every day it looking more and more like I made the right choice with an Incredible.

  7. Now if I could just get the iPhone 4 to make phones calls, not drop data connections and get a functioning proximity sensor, I’d be happy. Unfortunately, getting pseudo multitasking and folders 3 years too late is not enough to offset the loss of call & data functionality.

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