There are certain types of apps that are really hamstrung by the lack of backgrounding for third-party apps. For me, the biggest example would be music apps: Pandora, Last.fm, etc. The hardest thing I had to get used to was the removal of Last.fm scrobbling for tracks played by iPod.app. Before the advent of AppStore, the Last.fm iPhone app was known as MobileScrobbler, and worked beautifully on jailbroken iPhones. Having never paid much mind to Last.fm, I found myself suddenly hooked. Then, when AppStore put my MobileScrobbler in a walled garden, I lost all interest in Last.fm. It just wasn’t passive enough to be useful to me anymore, and that’s really a shame.
But y’know, ok, we get it. There’s no backgrounding. Many app developers have come up with some pretty inventive ways to get around the limitation, or at least mitigate it to some extent. The problem with the music apps is this: I can’t do anything else without quitting the app and losing the music.
Now, I know this is gonna fly in the face of our usual high standards, but why can’t we (they) incorporate a basic web browser into these apps? That way, at least, we users can post to Twitter or Tumblr, or maybe catch up on our RSS feeds while we’re listening to streaming music. Hell, they can even keep their ads at the bottom of the browser, I don’t care. it’d be better than the lack of integration we have now. Again, I’m not usually a fan of tacking on features to an app that should stay lean and mean. But Apple has kinda tied everyone’s hands. And if Atebits cam put their “popularity enhancer” option into their prefpane, why can’t the same thing be done for a tack-on UIWebView in apps where it would help greatly?
I don’t know, I guess I’m just getting the feeling that a lot of app developers are still just in denial about the current state of affairs vis-a-vis backgrounding (thanks, Merlin). Sure, there are rumblings about (possibly, maybe) Apple allowing one or two “blessed” third-party apps to run background processes. But I don’t see why anyone should hold their breath and allow their app’s user experience languish due to the current limitations.