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Oct 9, 2012

iPhone 5 multitasking – the awesome future?

by Stephen Ashby

This simple concept could make multi-tasking on iPhone a much more enjoyable experience

iPhone 5 multitasking - the awesome future?There are a few things that iOS users have to accept. One is that the new iPhone scratches a little. Another is that the new Maps in iOS 6 really isn’t that great yet. And, for a long time now, we’ve also had to accept that while the iPhone does multi-tasking, it doesn’t do it very well.

Apple don’t need to reinvent the wheel. The multi-tasking tray is simple, and it allows you to access it with a single thumb. Double-tap the Home button and you can swipe across to change apps without the need for another finger, or even the need to stretch.

But with the iPhone 5 launch, Apple have made a big deal out of the screen width staying the same while the height increases. They showed how an extra row of icons can enhance the user experience, but didn’t have many new ideas aside from that single use. So why not use the extra height to offer more space for multi-tasking?

This is precisely what Sentry thought, over at The Verge. He has redesigned the iPhone 5 multi-tasking interface to offer a little extra height without making the entire thing complex and unintuitive. The results are below.

The App Switcher

It’s probably the most widely used of the multi-tasking menu – switching quickly between apps. In Sentry’s vision, the menu displays a preview of each app that is running, showing you what you would see if you tapped it. It only uses a few more pixels, but it’s a more visually-pleasing solution to the problem we currently face.

iPhone 5 multitasking - the awesome future?

The Music Player

The new design for the music player takes its cues from the newly-redesigned Music app on iOS 6, adding rectangular buttons. There is more information about the track that is currently playing, and this screen also houses the volume slider.

iPhone 5 multitasking - the awesome future?

Brightness and Toggles

This is the really interest part; in Sentry’s plans, the third multi-tasking page would hold both a brightness slider and toggles for the most-regularly changed options (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G and Rotation Lock). These are settings that should be easily accessible, but are instead buried inside the Settings app. This screen currently houses the redundant volume slider (who needs a slider when there are hardware buttons on the iPhone that fulfill the same purpose?) so this change would be incredibly welcome.

iPhone 5 multitasking - the awesome future?

There have been all number of solutions bandied around the internet, with mockups suggesting alternatives to the frustrating system. Many of these include screens full of apps in a grid, multiple rows of apps along the bottom of the screen, or a multi-touch solution that would offer more options. We’ve put a few of our favourites below, along with some comparison shots of the iPhone 4S multi-tasking menu compared to this new design. Let us know what you think in the comments, and feel free to suggest the changes you’d like Apple to make to multi-tasking on iPhone.

The Mission Control Concept

This video was posted just a few days before the iPhone 5′s launch, and features a few ideas that would’ve been really exciting if they had been real. However, the Mission Control concept at 1:54 offers more control. The only downside is the multi-touch feature required to activate it.

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Swipe Concept

This one is much more simple, but would work beautifully with Sentry’s suggestion – a swipe to reveal the tray.

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