iPhone Multitasking - How to Use the Multitasking Feature (iPhone 4, 4S, 3GS)

Apple's iPhone 4
Apple's iPhone 4 | Source

How It All Started

I've recently acquired an iPhone 4, and like all techies, I had this huge nerdy urge to learn how to make the most out of this spanking new iPhone. Having never owned a smart phone before in my life, I did not know what to expect from the iPhone, although I did recall hearing about the iOS4's new multitasking ability. What did it mean exactly? I had no idea, but ready to find out, through the power of the internet. Oddly enough, it took me a bit of poking around Google to actually figure out how to use the multitasking, so I decided to share my knowledge here with everyone at HubPages, to make life easier for everyone.

What is Multitasking

First of all, what exactly does multitasking mean for the iPhone? Well, for those of you who use your computer regularly (which I assume to be everyone reading this hub, since you were able to navigate here), multitasking allows you to have multiple applications open at once, and it allows you to have an easy method of switching between those open programs. This means that you can have Twitter, Safari, HubPages, Maps, Fruit Ninja, Angry Bird, all open at once, and you can switch between these apps with just a few taps of the finger.


First page of the list of applications currently open on my iPhone.
First page of the list of applications currently open on my iPhone.

How to Use Multitasking

Something that many of you may not know, is that if you own an iPhone 4, you may already be using the multitasking feature without knowing it. The iPhone 4 actually does not close your application when you press the Home button (the square button), but instead, puts your app into a suspended state, and keeps it alive for when you access it again, as to speed up the process from having to reload the entire program.

You can view all the applications that are currently running by double tapping on the Home button (again, the physical button on your iPhone with the square), as shown on the right. This will bring up the list of all your open apps. Note that this may be just about every single app you have ever opened in your life, if you have never closed any of your apps before.

You can swipe your finger across the the apps to view the next page(s) of your open apps, and you also have the ability to switch to any of these apps by simply tapping on them.


Safari is already first on my list of open apps because the iPhone places the most recent apps first!
Safari is already first on my list of open apps because the iPhone places the most recent apps first!

Multitasking Between Applications

Now, lets say that I am using the Safari browser, and then I decided to open my Weather app and check the weather forecast. Once am done checking the forecast, I may want to switch back to Safari. To accomplish this, I can use the multitasking feature to easily switch between apps.

Just as described above, I can double-tap the Home button to bring up my open apps list, and voila, I can simply tap the Safari icon to get to it (the iPhone will do a cool animation when switching to the Safari app too). Simple enough isn't it? You can use this trick to easily switch between any of your open apps, saving you the work of having to go to the home screen.


Note the red minus signs next to my open apps.
Note the red minus signs next to my open apps.

How to Close Open Apps

Now that we have an understanding of how multitasking works, lets talk about how to actually close an application.The process is simple enough:

First we want to bring up the open apps list, by double tapping on the Home button. Then we want to place our finger on top of any app on the list, and hold it down for 2-3 seconds. This will display a red minus sign on the corner of your apps, and the icons will begin to wiggle back and fourth. You can now tap the red - sign to close actually close your app, freeing up some memory on your phone!

Now some you may be wondering, why would I want to close my apps anyway? You have to bear in mind that your iPhone only has limited memory, and can only keep so much apps open before it starts lagging (and possibly even crashing). This is less of an issue for the iPhone 4 than it is for the 3GS, due to the upgraded processing power and memory that the iPhone 4 has, but we should still bear in mind to close applications that we don't really use. As a general rule of thumb, I like to go through all my applications once a week and close ones that I know I use infrequently (such as Yelp or Fandango, or some of my games).


Closing a Single App? I think not...

On the negative side, I could not figure out how to close an app without going through this process. To illustrate my point, if I had the Yelp app on, and I wanted to close the app (not switching to another app), there is no way for me to do so without following the above procedure. I would first have to either switch to a different app, or go to the desktop, and then bring up the open apps list, and then hold an icon for a few seconds, which in my opinion, is quite a hassle just to close one measly app.

This is exactly why I came up with the ingenious plan to simply leave my apps on, and do a cleaning run-through of my apps once a week. This way, I won't ever end up with a trillion apps open, and I won't have to spend too much time closing apps individually.

Notice that I cannot close the HubPages app while I have it open on my screen, as it does not show up on my list of open apps.
Notice that I cannot close the HubPages app while I have it open on my screen, as it does not show up on my list of open apps.

Which Apple devices actually support multitasking?

I don't claim to be an expert in this field, but from my knowledge, I believe that in addition to the iPhone 4 and the iTouch 4, the iPhone 3GS and the iPad also support it. I think that the iTouch 3G may possibly support it, but I say for sure. Bear in mind that this feature was introduced in iOS4, so having iOS4 installed is a requirement to use this feature at all.


Great Video I Found Demonstrating Multitasking

More by this Author


Thoughts? Comments? Complaints? 7 comments

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

EXCELLENT Hub - you've explained it well, plus the screenshots are super helpful! I had no idea that my phone was multitasking before you pointed this out. Rock on!


ezhang profile image

ezhang 5 years ago from Bay Area, CA Author

I'm glad you learned something new about your phone Simone! It turns out that even Ari didn't know much about the multitasking feature of his phone!


tedcampbell2792 profile image

tedcampbell2792 5 years ago from NY

I never knew this was possible! Now i'll have to try it on mine!


ezhang profile image

ezhang 5 years ago from Bay Area, CA Author

Hi tedcampbell, I'm glad that you found my hub useful! I wanted to share my discovery with others so that everyone else can also take the full advantage of the awesome, but otherwise not very known multitasking ability of their iPhone!


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Wonderful hub and thanks for sharing.


ezhang profile image

ezhang 5 years ago from Bay Area, CA Author

Thanks for reading my hub crystolite! I hope you found it helpful :)


mr-burns profile image

mr-burns 5 years ago

Very detailed hub. Great work

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