iOS4’s “multitasking” isn’t really anything of the sort, although it’s a sublimely elegant illusion: a handful of API calls for the most common multitasking functionality like VoIP and background uploading married to a sophisticated, built-in app save state functionality which gives both the effortless appearance and (for most intents and purposes) practical advantages of true iPhone multitasking.
For the most part, I’m pleased, even if I yearn for the ability to update apps like Instapaper and Reeder in the background… but one thing I’ve never really cared for is the new multitasking menu, brought up with a double click and stretched across the home row. For me, that’s where the illusion breaks down: instead of a list of truly running apps, it largely functions as a “most recently used” app list. It also makes accessing the media player controls one swipe further away than they once were.
So I really like MultiFl0w, a new interface for iOS multitasking that represents open apps with fluid, Expose-like elegance. Working in coordination with the free Cydia backgrounder app, MultiFl0w not only allows apps to truly run in the background, instead of simply access a few API calls, but it gives a beautiful and effortlessly Apple-like way of navigating between and closing those apps as well.
Unfortunately, Apple is right at the end of the day: if you have a jailbroken iPhone and run backgrounded apps, your battery life will suffer dramatically. But I can’t help but hope that someday, Apple will figure out a way around this, and something like MultiFl0w will be baked into iOS on the system level.