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More Rumors of Limited Third-Party Background Apps Coming to the iPhone? [Updated]

Silicon Alley Insider has heard some rumors that seem to corroborate MacRumors' report from February that Apple is working on allowing limited background processes in a future version of the iPhone's operating system. Our sources had told us they would be limited to one or two additional processes, while Silicon Alley Insider suggests that it could alternatively be for specifically-approved apps.

Here's two potential scenarios we've heard. Treat these as anecdotal rumors for now, as we don't know how realistic they are.

* Apple might allow users to select two apps that can run in the background.
* Apple might selectively allow some apps to run in the background. We assume that developers could apply for permission to run in the background, and that Apple might approve or deny them based on the resources they need and how well they behave with the operating system's stability.

According to the report, it is not known whether this feature could make an appearance in iPhone OS 3.0 due this summer or if it might be under development for a later release.

In a blog post discussing Silicon Alley Insider's report, John Gruber writes that he has also heard rumblings about a similar feature:

Ordinarily I wouldn't link to something as sketchily sourced as this, but: I heard something very similar from a decent (but second-hand) source back in January during Macworld Expo. What I heard then was that Apple was working on a vastly improved dock for your most-frequently used apps, and that thered be one special icon position where you could put a third-party app to enable it to run in the background.

Citing concerns over the effect of having applications run in the background on battery life, Apple is officially planning to deploy push notifications as a substitute for backgrounding, allowing delivery of alerts for applications that are not actively running.

Update: TechCrunch chimes in with additional corroboration:

Basically, my source says that while this is in no way a done deal yet, Apple is definitely trying to come up with a way to offer background support for third-party apps. They went on to note that while Apple may have something to say about it at WWDC, it's very unlikely that any solution would be ready at that time, and could be a situation similar to how Apple announced Push Notification at WWDC last year but said it was coming in a few months (which it later was delayed until iPhone 3.0).



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