Zen and the art of permanent iPhone apps

DF has a great discussion of permanence or “running in the background” in iPhone apps, showing us that even the applications that look like they’re running in the background will occasionally poop out due to memory or processor constraints. For example, Mail and Safari can hang out behind other applications, but the moment something needs them they’ll quit, leading to empty tabs and screens. This, it seems, is why Peter Ha and I were hating on the iPhone while trying to keep a Google map up on the screen during our trip to Germany.

The iPhone has no process management. When a program runs, it loads a certain set of data and when you quit — a process that takes seconds rather than minutes — it saves the data and leaves the scene gracefully. Check out this koan:

In short, your iPhone will not be doing much while its in your pocket. The iPhone is driven by your actions, and, by design, for the purposes of resource conservation, does very little in the background, period.

What is the sound of your iPhone in your pocket?

One App at a Time [DF]