Just about everyone I know who has updated to iOS 4.2 and tried out the Multitasking Bar for rapid app switching loves this new feature. I definitely do as well. But .. nearly everyone I talk to about the ‘multitasking’ of apps (which is misused term, but that’s another story) is concerned about how many apps end up running in the Multitasking Bar. They worry about what effect this has on their battery life or even on general performance of their iPad.
From what I can gather about how the Multitasking Bar works, there are a couple of things to note about apps and ‘running’ in the background via the Multitasking Bar (which I’m going to shorten to MT Bar for the rest of this post), such as:
— Very few apps are actually running in the background when you see them listed in the MT Bar. The only ones that are really running (and multitasking) are ones that use one of the very limited set of allowed background services – for example navigation apps or music apps like Pandora Radio – each of which are allowed to have a defined sort of process that can run in the background.
— The vast majority of apps that are shown in the MT Bar are just recently used apps that are ‘resident’ to some extent, but without any truly active process associated with them, but not fully closed. To fully close them you tap and hold on any one of them, wait for the apps to wiggle and show a red minus symbol above each, and tap the minus symbol for the one you want to close.
One of the small changes noticed in the Gold Master build of iOS 4.2 for iPad is the addition of a volume control in the Multitasking Bar. So now the far left end of the bar offers an orientation lock toggle (which was much better as a hardware button), brightness control, and iPod basic and volume controls.
So … now we have two controls that were / are far easier to get to via the hardware buttons along the top right of the iPad housed in the Multitasking Bar, and an added volume control. Why??? Why not leave the bloody orientation lock and volume controls alone and add some useful services toggles to the bar? Toggles for WiFi, Cellular Data (on the 3G model), and Bluetooth, would be far more useful and would be logical to place next to the brightness control, as all these influence battery life.
Very odd decisions to duplicate controls that have hardware buttons already – unless this is an indicator that the next iPad model won’t have those buttons at all.
Multitasking is one of the headline features of iOS 4.2 for the iPad. It’s definitely my favorite new feature and the one I know will get the most use out of day in and day out. So I’ll be seeing a lot of the Multitasking Bar, which is what gets pulled up when you double-tap the Home button in iOS 4.2.
The Multitasking Bar is where you go to switch rapidly between backgrounded or recently run apps. It also has a couple of extra items over to the its far left when you swipe all the way in that direction. There’s a button for toggling orientation lock on/off, minimal iPod music controls, and most interestingly, a brightness control slider.
The brightness control is a very nice addition, but it also brings to mind a huge miss / wish list item. If they can make room for the brightness slider, why oh why can we not have a toggle for cellular services (on the iPad 3G), and some other key services?
Here’s a small but notable change under iOS 4.2 (Beta 1) for the iPad. The Orientation Lock button on the top right of the iPad is now a Mute button (as on the iPhone, though on the opposite side of the device).
You now have an Orientation Lock button in the Multitasking Bar. My initial reaction is I prefer things this way. I think I find the ability to turn sound on/off a more useful function for the hardware button, and I’m fine with going to the taskbar to enable/disable orientation lock.
What do you all think of this change?