We started Onxo with the focus to talk about practical mobile computing. It's always interesting to put our cool mobile devices to creative and productive use.
Just today, I learned that folks are using iPhone apps to avoid speed traps. Brilliant.
For me last night, it was not any one specific app but working across different apps. Multitasking. This is an issue that Apple has dealt with using push notification. It's a feature Apple competitors has trumpeted as something the iPhone is missing. For Apple, it's about battery life and, for others, it's about why a modern mobile platform can't or won't allow more than one app to be running at the same time.
I was working last night at a coffee shop that did not have a reliable Wi-Fi access. So I had to rely on my G1 for Internet access to looking for what I needed. It was a collaborative effort between the Android device and a Macbook. It's not the first time I might add. I was not able to transfer files but I was able to create notes and saving URLs and other information I needed for use later.
At the same time, I was corresponding with contacts through Meebo, tweeting, e-mailing, getting sports updates. Oh, did I mention I was listening to the BBC as well?
Then I wondered on a mobile device with a 3" screen, whether there is really a difference between multi-tasking and simply switching between apps. It just depends on how easy switching between tasks each platform makes it for the user.
I suppose it comes down to what you need. The Pre provides the user with fast access to apps while the iPhone requires to switch from one app to another (and some swiping with your finger). But the iPhone has made up for that with the unique cut-copy-and-paste implementation (CCP). I found the iPhone's implementation easier to use as it is more precise. I found this to the case for Windows Mobile. (It's not as easy to use on the G1. In the browser, your'e forced to select the whole page.)
What the iPhone OS is unable to do that others can is allow me to steam music while I work on other tasks. There it is. Android allowed me to continue streaming audio even as I worked with other apps. This is a common example that others have brought up when the debate about multi-tasking comes up.
Once again, it just comes down to what your needs are. If keeping a live connection to the Internet or process, then multitasking is a must and simply switching between apps will not work for you. I am sure there are other examples when multitasking is a must. If you can think of one, please share with us how you use your mobile device or smartphone.
Note: The iPhone OS will eventually support true multitasking. When it happens, Apple will make it sound like it's something revolutionary. Bloggers and the media will hail it as if it's something they've never seen before. You'll sit there, look down at your WM smartphone or Pre, and wonder, "wait, I thought it's been around for years". You would be right. Just remember that.