One of the big debates on mobile platforms is whether or not multitasking is really necessary for smartphones. In general the power users argue it is. OS designers tend to shy away from it though in order to maximize battery life and minimize any lag on the device due to memory consumption or CPU bottlenecks. So which is it?

Ed Hansberry, Contributor

April 8, 2010

2 Min Read

One of the big debates on mobile platforms is whether or not multitasking is really necessary for smartphones. In general the power users argue it is. OS designers tend to shy away from it though in order to maximize battery life and minimize any lag on the device due to memory consumption or CPU bottlenecks. So which is it?On the desktop, multitasking is a given. Compared to a phone, a PC has virtually unlimited resources. RAM generally has limits, but with virtual memory on the hard drive and the increasing number of 64 bit machines out there, you can run as many apps as you like without really taxing the hardware. There is also the size of the OS to consider. Windows 7 has a several gigabyte footprint and a substantial portion is designed to manage memory usage and application threads.

Phones, on the other hand, are severely constrained. Most smartphones are designed to run in just a few hundred MB of RAM or less. The OS footprint is also substantially smaller. Expectations for a phone are also much higher than that of a PC in certain areas. While you may not like it, when your PC responds with a grinding noise when you click on the Start Menu once in a while, it isn't really a huge issue. However, if your phone stutters when you are trying to answer a call, enter a PIN code or respond to a notification window before it disappears, you can get frustrated to the point of wanting to throw your phone on the ground.

Microsoft angered long time Windows Mobile fans when it said that Windows Phone 7 would not have multitasking for third party apps. Apple fans cheered when rumors started flying that the fourth version of the iPhone OS would have some form of multitasking. Which one is right? Can notifications make up for multitasking from an end-user perspective?

Betanews has an article that debates both sides of the issue. Read it and decide for yourself. Will the lack of or presence of multitasking on a smartphone influence your buying decision? If so, why? What is the real need for it that without, a phone just won't work for you.

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