iPad: Where the Lack of Multitasking Fails

I was of the camp that believed that the lack of multitasking on the iPad wasn’t that big a deal. It took me about 15 minutes of use to discover that I was wrong. Two apps, the Kindle Reader and TweetDeck are hurt badly by the inability to have more than one app running at a time.

The problem is worse on TweetDeck, which has been my Twitter client of choice on PCs and Macs, but which I always found too complex to work on an iPhone. Like many other folks, my main use of Twitter is going to interesting links suggested by people I follow.  On the iPad, when you tap a tweet, a larger version containing live links opens at the top of the screen (oddly and unfortunately, this seems to work only in portrait mode; in landscape nothing happens when you tap on the tweet.)

When you tap on the link, an abbreviated version of the Web page opens at the top of the screen. For some pages, this is all you need and there is no problem. But for a page of any complexity, you will probably want to select the “open in Safari” option. When you do, the page opens in the full browser, but the iPad shuts down TweetDeck. When you’re done with Safari, you’re dumped back to the home screen, where you have to open TweetDeck and then find your way back to your place in the tweet stream.

To avoid this, you don’t need anything as complex and potentially battery-sucking as true multitasking. All you really need is a decent procedure for app switching and a way to suspend an app preserving its state. Safari would know to return you to TweetDeck and TweetDeck would remember your place. There are rumors that Apple plans to address this in a forthcoming operating system upgrade, but as in all other things Apple, your guess as to whether this is true is as good as mine.

The outstanding Kindle Reader has a similar problem. Links in Kindle text are blessedly live. But when you click on a link, the iPad shuts down Kindle and opens Safari. When you are done with the browser, you have to shut down Safari and reopen Kindle. Kindle at least has the good grace to remember your place.

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2 Responses to “iPad: Where the Lack of Multitasking Fails”

  1. Steve Shaw Says:

    Just wanted to say I dropped by and enjoyed this post and your Kindle vs. Kindle (on iPad) post. I’m mulling the same issue and thought you made some good points.

  2. Mike Bauer Says:

    Steve, does today’s iPhone 4.0 OS announcement alleviates your concern about multitasking?

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