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Pwned iPhones Can Now Multitask!

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I can’t count how many times I’ve sat back and debated with people who call the iPhone a smartphone. For all of its gloss and glamour, its SDK, its connectivity, it’s no smartphone at all for one big reason and one big reason only. Any modern smartphone should present itself as a viable desktop alternative. Any good desktop computer features multitasking. The iPhone can’t run third party application in parallel, forcing users to run apps in series, with no background processing.

Why Apple allows its native applications to run simultaneously, but not its third party apps is a mystery left to Steve Jobs. How to implement multitasking on your iPhone on your own isn’t such a mystery, though. Thanks to the skillful work of gaizin, part of the well-known iPhone pwning community and software utility developer, Jobs’ minions can now run multithreaded third party applications. Requiring you first jailbreak the device, or remove the default security layer, the hack allows you to run apps simultaneously, and set rules for which apps run in the background by default.
Now the solution is admittedly imperfect, but a step closer to bringing the iPhone into the class of devices its most commonly compared to, which is true smartphones. Once multitasking is added by Apple, the iPhone will be taken seriously by all its pundits, me included. That users are implementing it on their own is a good sign, and Apple should follow-up with a native solution in the future. So I may not be able to use the lack of background processing for third party applications against it for long.

Though I have a well known dislike for the iPhone, I admire its interface and simplicity while packing more features than any other featurephone in history. Its closed system and I don’t mesh well together. My software tastes tend toward the gadget freak, consumer choice flavor. But a closed system has its benefits, especially for content providers looking to distribute intellectual property or secure data.

If the industry took notice before, they should be captivated now. Magically, in just two years, the iPhone has really matured, going from an excellent media player to an full fledged smartphone. The only thing iPhone users admit everyone else does better than Apple just vanished.

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By , Senior International Correspondent on Oct 4th, 2008 GMT +2


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