Google’s Android smartphone operating system was the first to offer multitasking. But when Apple’s iOS platform finally caught up with the Android pack, the iPhone’s multitasking was a bit more user-friendly. While you won’t usually find iPhone features that are enviable to Android users, iOS’s smooth app switching dock is worth emulating on a Google smartphone. Here’s why, and here’s how to do it.
Android’s multitasking works splendidly. You can have an app running in the background without significantly affecting the performance of other apps, and you can switch back to a previous app without losing your place or state. But the implementation of app switching is a bit clunky for some users. To multitask on an Android phone, you have to hold the Home button for a few seconds. This brings up the “Recent Apps” menu, which lists the last eight apps you opened.
For those who don’t hop around among more than eight apps at a time, this is perfectly fine. But for power Android users, the Recent Apps menu can be a bit limiting,
iPhone multitasking is handled differently. Applications can be backgrounded, or have their states saved indefinitely. In fact, with the latest releases of iOS, you never truly close an app once its opened. Part of the reason why it took so long for Apple to implement multitasking is so that they could allow this functionality without draining the battery or slowing the phone.
This method of multitasking is similar to how Android’s is handled, but the mechanism through which you switch between backgrounded or running apps is different. With iOS, you double-press the home button to open a dock that contains all of your running apps. This dock contains a virtually limitless number of apps, regardless of which ones were opened most recently. To help reduce clutter, you can touch and hold and then remove apps from the dock one-by-one.
iPhone Multitasking on an Android Phone
Truthfully, neither method is inherently better than the other. But if you’re an Android user interested in seeing what the other side has to offer, you can try out an app called Dock4Droid. This app creates a sliding dock along the bottom of the screen that’s very similar to what you’d find on the iPhone or OS X. The interface is unobtrusive—simply touch a bar along the bottom of the screen to pull it up. You can even launch new apps from the dock, making it even more like the dock you’d find in OS X.
The app comes with a free version (Dock4Droid Lite) and a paid version for $0.89. Both are fully functional, but the paid version allows up to eight launchers, the ability to exclude certain apps from the launcher, custom background colors and other premium features.
Dock4Droid is available on the Android Market. You can download it directly from your Android smartphone. For more results, see the apps page on market.android.com:
Note: To get the full version, you must already have the lite version installed. Do not uninstall Dock4Droid Lite when upgrading.