Growing up on the Windows ecosystem, multi-tasking feels extremely natural. The ability to open multiple windows and perform tasks simultaneously rocks our boat. Put aside your desktops, take your phone in hand and you’ll realise how much we take it for granted. Why hasn’t the multi-window multitasking made the cut to the phones even as we enjoy our Instagram feed and cat pictures on so many pixels and screen real estate glory?
Early Attempts by Manufacturers
Multi-tasking is something many manufacturer OEM’s have been experimenting with. Samsung has been touting its Multi Window features since it’s inception. Sony has been experimenting with Multi-apps. Many individual developers have stepped up the game with third party apps that enable running multiple apps at the same time.
Let’s be honest. Most OEM implementations of multitasking are mediocre, at most. Those well implemented, have compatibility issues. They do not work with all apps out of the box. Some dirty hacks make it possible to have them on all apps, but there’s always a risk of breaking the apps and not functioning properly.
If they can make such attempts what’s deterring the even more talented team at Google or Apple from foraying into this stream?
The Risks Involved
Changing the way people normally use their phones could open up a risk in dimensions, even if they are intended for good. The thing is, these companies or indie developers are responsible to the customers in a very limited way and they can often get away with it. For example, Samsung can proudly say that they support multi window for their suite of apps but do not claim it to work on other apps.
When the team at Google or Apple have to come up with such a plan, they’ve to make sure that it’s compatible with all the apps and does not break stuff around because they cater to the masses. Get multi-tasking on board means these companies will have to get the developers on the train, put up the guidelines and hope that they will implement it in their apps. Mere hope. Remember, it took Google a fair amount of time to educate developers about proper Android design guidelines and proliferate them, (only to get materialized later?)
This is just my 2 cents on why I think multitasking isn’t going mainstream. Sure, there could be host of other reasons too, like companies wanting to keep a microscopic gap between the mobile and desktop operating systems. Or maybe I’m missing a point altogether. But the best I can think as for now, is the risk part. Do you think we’ll ever see these companies giviing us the ability to run multiple apps at the same time?