I believe the iPad already has the core features that 90% of ‘multitasking’ needs.
This follows on from blog posts by John Gruber of Daring Fireball here and here, Kevin fox here and Brian Chen on Wired.
“What is multi-tasking?”
There are actually very few apps that need real multi-tasking. Music playing is one and location tracking is another.
Other than that, when a lot of people talk about multi-tasking, they just mean being able to switch quickly between a number of running apps.
On a Mac you can quickly switch between apps and also bring up the dashboard to quickly access things like a calculator.
On an iPad, I would argue that the Home button and Home screen is the equivalent of this dashboard.
“Home screen == dashboard?”
There are two reasons why people don’t think this is so. And these are key to understanding why it won’t be a problem in the future on the iPad. It comes from their experience on the iPhone.
1. Switching apps is slow
2. A lot of apps have a startup/loading screen or other bad designs
“Why will the iPad improve these?”
On the iPad
1. It’s much faster than an iPhone – so going to the home screen and selecting another app will be much faster – almost as fast as alt-tabbing or bringing up the dashboard on the Mac
2. Apps are slowly becoming better designed
“What do you mean by better designed?”
If you look at all the Apple apps, none have them have a launch screen. They just go back to the previous state they were in. This is an idea that Palm got right. If an app behaves in this way, then pressing the Home button and tapping on the app icon can get very close to being the equivalent of alt-tabbing.
In fact, it even states in the Apple Interface guideline to avoid splash screens. As the development community matures, these kind of design concepts will be learned.
So I say, multitasking on the iPad? It’s already there!