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iPhone OS 4.0: Multitasking, finally, hooray!

The demand for iPhone OS multitasking is nothing new. People have been looking for ways to do more than one thing at once on their iPhones for some time. For example, let's say you're chatting on IRC in one application, and you want to hop out to check a Web page. Should you have to disconnect from your IRC session just so you can sneak into Safari? Maybe you want to listen to Pandora radio while shopping at the App Store. Should you have to stop the Pandora music?

People multitask, and now the iPhone OS can too. Starting with the upcoming 4.0 firmware, the iPhone OS will (finally!) allow users to do more than one task at once. As Steve demonstrated today, iPhone OS 4.0 lets you switch tasks by double-clicking the home button. A dock-like bar appears at the bottom of the screen, showing you a list of running applications.

Typically with multitasking, the more processes that you run, the more burden you'll place on battery life. The application would have to page into and out of memory a lot more, and as a result, less memory and processor power will be available on a per-app basis. It's a trade-off. For me, and I'm sure for many others, it's a trade-off we're willing to make in order to cash in to the associate benefits.

However, it seems that we may not have to fear: Apple says they have found a way around all of these caveats. How, you ask? They are providing background services to applications, allowing the app to stream music, provide notifications, or do other tasks without compromising performance.

What about you? Is this a feature that you're going to be taking advantage of? Would you rather swap it out for better battery life and app performance? Let us know in the comments.

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