Apple OS Learning to Chew Gum and Walk at the Same Time, Multitask Support Coming

One of the biggest complaints surrounding Apple's iPhone OS is the lack of multitasking support, and it's a valid one. But if the latest rumor proves to be true, critics will soon be silenced, or at least redirect their disgust squarely on the lack of Flash integration.

Citing "people with a proven track record in predicting Apple's technological advances," says the Cupertino-based company will introduce a multitasking solution through the handset's 4.0 software update, at long last allowing third party apps to run in the background.

If this comes to pass -- and we're inclined to believe it will -- the move couldn't come at a better time for Apple. Facing increased competition from Google's Android platform, Apple is at risk of giving up even more of its mobile market share than it already has. Multitasking support would go a long way in preventing the competition from dethroning the iPhone as arguably the sexiest smartphone on the market.

And it's not just the smartphone market that's at stake, either. Apple began taking pre-orders for the iPad this morning, which has grand aspirations of conquering the netbook, e-book reader, and tablet markets all at once. Whether or not it can do that without Flash support remains to be seen, but at the very least, multitasking will be crucial in pushing out a $500+ handheld gadget.

So why has it taken Apple so long to integrate multitasking? The iPhone is certainly capable and already allows specific apps to run in the background, such as the system's phone, SMS, email, and other bundled software. But as far as Apple is concerned, extending that same courtesy to third party apps obtained through the App Store presents a security risk. By disallowing third-party multitasking, there's no chance of a rogue app running in the background unbeknownst to the end-user.

How Apple intends to address the security risk while still allowing multitasking isn't yet known, but if Steves Jobs and Co. hope to compete against the plethora of handheld gadgets on the horizon, they would be wise to figure it out.