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Just recently, Apple finally peeled away the curtains hiding the next big update to their iPhone OS. The fourth iteration of the feisty platform based on their OSX operating system promises to bring a host of new features for the iPhone and iPod Touch, both of which run the iPhone OS.

iPad also runs on the iPhone OS, however the release of the iPad version of iPhone OS will be delayed, possibly due to the small differences in hardware and screen size especially. So what can we expect from Apple in the fourth coming?

The biggest buzzword of all is MULTITASKING. Ever since they launched the iPhone, critics have been laughing at Apple’s insistence on not allowing the phone to open up more than 1 active app at a time. The reason cited for this include simplifying the user experience (no doubt, anybody can pick up an iPhone and instantly know how to use it), saving battery life and also making sure the phone doesn’t get bogged down when we inevitably open up too many apps at the same time. For those coming from the PocketPC era, this is a laughable crippling of a smartphone as users of Windows Mobile devices have been able to multitask all this while.

Finally Apple embraces multitasking with the iPhone OS4, and they allowed a specific implementation of multitasking which I’d say is not true multitasking. First of all, ‘multitasking’ is only limited to several specific functions, such as allowing for sound to continue to play even when you close the main app, or allowing your chat session to be maintained when on Skype using VOIP or allowing apps to access the GPS information even when they are closed. Apple has clearly defined several such features. Furthermore, when you ‘switch’ apps, the system will freeze the app the way you closed it, so that you can resume exactly where you left off.The app can still continue to access the functions that Apple has defined, but nothing more than that.

So it’s not true multitasking, because still only one app is running at any time, but at least it gives a good illusion of multitasking, and the app freezing feat reinforces the experience. Crucially though, Apple’s promise of making sure that your phone doesn’t get bogged down or run out of battery life faster is maintained.

Unfortunately, Android has been implementing such a feature for a long time now, and Apple’s just playing catch.

Another feature introduced is the ability to add customized backgrounds and folder icons. However for those familiar with jailbreaking their Apple products, the ability to do these things have long since existed, perhaps not in such a clean and friendly way as Apple’s implementation. More importantly, Android devices already have these options, and a lot more.

In summary, is the device a good deal for Apple fans? Yes because they finally bring the platform to PARITY with Android. This will not even dent Android’s meteoric rise and given how fast and vast Android has been improved in just a few short months, Apple is set to play catch unless they can abandon their habit of clamping down on what the user can do with the gadget in their pockets.