Another reason to Jailbreak your iPhone: Backgrounder


One perplexing omission from the iPhone OS's feature set is the ability for applications to run in the background.

Oh, sure, we've all heard Steve's excellent reasons: "Shut up, you scum. It's impossible! There's not a single mobile OS that supports applications running in the background. None! It would require magic. I don't care if you want it. I only use one application at a time, and It's called the iPhone [taps an emphasizing ellipses on his own cadaverous chest], not the youPhone."

Jobs' rationale is certainly compelling, but anyone trying to have an instant messaging conversation on the iPhone, or quickly check their email while playing a round of Aurora Feint, has wished Apple had somehow figured out how to include the functionality.

No need to wait around for Cupertino to figure it out, though. A plucky and resourceful Cydia programmer has released software for jailbroken iPhones that allows applications to continue running in the background. After installing the program, you simply keep the home button pressed to toggle the running app into background mode.

It actually works a peach, as long as you don't abuse it. Keeping Twitteriffic open in the background while I played some Tap Tap worked wonderfully, although trying to keep Aurora Feint open while playing Super Monkey Ball required an iPhone reset.

So there's a few problems. But if you can remember to use the iPhone Backgrounder lightly for things like IM and Twitter apps, this is another strong reason why Jailbreaking your iPhone is still totally viable in the age of the App Store.

iPhone Backgrounder [Google Code]

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6 Responses to Another reason to Jailbreak your iPhone: Backgrounder

  1. Garr says:

    Did he really say that (not literally, I know)?
    Because my SonyEricsson M600i, which runs Symbian as far as I know (the OS, not that vibrating rocking horse you’re thinking about now), actually does run Applications in the background. Hence the embedded Task Manager and the possibility to switch back and forth between applications, games, etc. without losing data.

  2. John Brownlee says:

    No, he didn’t. I was joking.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m surprised iPhones can’t do this, but I’ve never really used an iPhone. Most modern blackberries can, at least to the limited extent of playing media files in the background as you do other things. They have an app switcher built-in too.

  4. Todd Sieling says:

    Perplexing? He said that concerns about battery life and overall stability are why they don’t allow background apps. And there’s no mention of the updating infrastructure that Apple promised way back when.

    Maybe less stand up comedy and more research or just a shorter post? Just sayin’.

  5. arkizzle says:

    I gotta agree with Todd here.

    You basically confirm Jobs’ point (and the one we all took from the original spec announcement) when you say “It actually works a peach, as long as you don’t abuse it” and “if you can remember to use the iPhone Backgrounder lightly..“. That’s the whole point!

    People don’t like their shit not working, running multiple apps can cause issues (as noted by you), therefore iPhone has restricted that function to ensure each app runs as good as it can. Why do you have to lambast that same information, and the decision to restrict, when it comes from Apple?

    Why not just post the above app as an option for people willing to forgo reliable interaction for multiple (possibly crash-prone) apps. It isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t a case of “oh noes, apple is restrictin my rights’.

    They made it work, you can break it if you like.

  6. Anonymous says:

    @ The other Anonymous, you can use the iPod in the background on iPhones as well.

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