Rumor: Apple is Considering Allowing iPhone Apps to Run in the Background

Push Notification Service was supposed to be Apple's solution to allow iPhone apps to run in the background. It is one of most requested features by iPhone users along with copy and paste and support for Adobe's Flash. Apple had announced that it would be available to iPhone users in September 2008.

However, Apple had strangely pulled out the Push Notification Service APIs in fourth beta version of iPhone firmware 2.1 and there has been no further updates from Apple about the feature.

But looks like Apple has not forgotten about it. MacRumors is hearing that Apple is considering allowing real background processes instead.

iPhone apps
thus far cannot run in the background, and therefore cannot ping for
data unless you're running them explicitly which is something most of
us have been accustomed to; having used smart phones such as Blackberry.

This was the reason why iPhone users and developers have been
requesting Apple for a feature to allow iPhone apps to run in the
background which can be very useful for Instant Messenger apps, Facebook etc.

Scott Forstall, Senior Vice President of iPhone Software at Apple,
believed that enabling background processes was not the right solution
when it comes to mobile phones, as it would affect the iPhone's battery
life and degrade performance.

Apple was planning to solve this problem by offering developers with Push Notification Service. However, Apple had strangely pulled out the Push Notification Service APIs in fourth beta version of iPhone firmware 2.1 and there has been no further information from Apple. Though it the reason for the hold up is not clear, it is quite evident that something is holding Apple from releasing it.

MacRumors is reporting that they have heard that as an alternative Apple is considering allowing apps to run as user selectable background processes.

MacRumors expects this feature to be released in iPhone firmware 3.0 update but will be limited to only one or two processes for 1st Gen iPhone and iPhone 3G based on their hardware. The next generation iPhone, however, would likely see less
restricted background process support due to its improved hardware. It is speculated that the next generation iPhone could come with quad-core processors.

If the rumor is true then it would be a u-turn by Apple based on their comments back in August 2008 where they believed that enabling background processes was not the right solution for the iPhone. But its very good news for iPhone users as the limitation of not being able to run apps in the background was quite frustrating.

What do you think? If Apple allowed only one or two processes to run in the background which iPhone apps will you chose. Let us know in the comments.

In case you don't want to wait, there is a jailbreak app aptly called
iPhone Backgrounder
which allows you to run iPhone apps in the background but
for that you need a jailbroken iPhone.

[via MacRumors]

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  • Tristan

    Gee, if any of you look back through the posts related to the Push API and read the comments by me (yes, I checked and I'm the only TJ) you might notice that this is something that I SUGGESTED.

    Friggin Apple… YOU JERKS SHOULD GIVE ME SOMETHING FOR THAT!!!! Lord knows you have a team of people that browse the net for iPhone news every day and read feedback on it… And I checked. Nobody else thought of it. I used google, yahoo, metacrawler. Everything. NOBODY BUT ME said anything even remotely close to this.

    You know what my next great idea is, Apple? The ability to save passwords and emails in safari and across the iPhone's dictionary. I HATE having to type my email in full everywhere I go. The stupid phone should know my email and have it ready for me to use when I'm typing! EVERY BROWSER ON EARTH DOES THAT. Also, it'd be great to see a product(RED) version of the iPhone. Not only would it look completely sick, it'd be for a good cause. Even if I had to pay a little more, I would.

    Oh, and Apple? I don't give a flying f*** about 3G. I seriously don't. But I want GPS. Make a freakin phone with GPS and no 3G. It's not that hard.


    Its good news to hear that apple is considering about it. I personally believe the that new pre from palm is giving good competition to iphone as we heard that it will let u run multiple program at a time. i thing apple is seeing this as a tough competition .

  • Graham

    Apple, please listen to Tristan. You would make heaps more money as your phones would be heaps better.

  • djman10

    @ Tristan:

    I'm sure you will read this because you seem to love yourself so much. Continue patting yourself in the back but your suggestion was a no brainer since it's already being done on many platforms including the iPhone. Yes, some Apple apps do run in the background. Check it out searching Google, Yahoo, and Metacrawler. Apple's position is that too many apps running in the background would drain the battery, among other adverse effects. It says so right here in this blog post. No need to Google, Yahoo, etc.

  • chris

    Push notifications > background apps.

    Background apps will drain the hell out of the battery, Push notifications will not drain anything more than an sms coming through.

    come on now apple, whats so hard about push notification?

  • TJ

    Yes, djman10, it would drain the battery. But it would be MY CHOICE to do so. While it has been done on other platforms before, the other platforms have never really had the developer-base that the iPhone has, and so they gave this feature to apps like AIM and MSNMessenger. The iPhone now has location aware applications, however, and while I may not always want them running, there are times that I might want it running constantly and still be able to do something else on the phone. But again, I want it to be MY CHOICE. This is why it would be nice to have.

    And it was my idea, and I am proud of myself for that. The whole point of the iPhone was that it could be the first phone not controlled entirely by the carrier, and that leaves the control with the manufacturer and the consumer. As the consumer I want the manufacturer to give me freedom to do things with the phone that I want so long as I don't break any rules with the carrier. Currently the only way to do that is to jailbreak my phone. Since I would rather have a stable platform, I want Apple to suck it up, loosen up the SDK restrictions, and let Jailbreak apps like Winterboard and such to be on the app store, officially supported.

  • Sysrage

    I'd much rather have good push notification. We already have backgrounder. I want to get notified about IMs all day whether my phone is suspended, i'm talking on it, or when i return to an area with service after being disconnected. No reason to drain my battery for just some of that.