Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Apple Serious About Background App Support For iPhone 3.0 (AAPL)

Apple (AAPL) is serious about letting more iPhone software -- beyond its native apps like phone, iPod, and Mail -- run in the background, we've heard from sources in the mobile industry. This could potentially happen as soon as Apple's iPhone 3.0 release, based on scuttlebutt we've heard.

Here's two potential scenarios we've heard. Treat these as rumors for now, as we don't know how realistic they are -- especially for the first version of iPhone 3.0, due within a few months.

  • Apple might allow users to select two apps that can run in the background. Specifically, one source says there's some evidence of this in a new beta of Apple's iPhone 3.0 software developers kit. (We don't have the SDK, and wouldn't know where to look if we did.)
  • Apple might selectively allow some apps to run in the background. We assume that developers could apply for permission to run in the background, and that Apple might approve or deny them based on the resources they need, how well they behave with the operating system's stability, and how much network bandwidth they need.

Apple has so far not allowed its iPhone app developers to write software that runs in the background to avoid potential battery life and security problems -- and to avoid confusing users with a "task manager."

It's possible that this will not happen for iPhone 3.0. But it wouldn't be a complete shock if it did, either. Apple's competitors like RIM, Microsoft, Palm, and Google all support background processing for third-party apps. It's something Apple will have to support someday, even if only on new hardware. The sooner, the better.

In the meantime, Apple has developed a push notifications system that will allow apps to get a user's attention while the app is not running. For instance, an instant messaging service like AIM could use a push notification to let you know that it's received a new IM for you, prompting you to open the AIM app on your iPhone. This will be helpful even if background processing is enabled for some apps. But it's not going to be a complete replacement.

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-serious-about-background-app-support-for-iphone-30-2009-5

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