Apple announced this week that multitasking would be included as a part of the iPhone's OS 4. For its users, this is huge news: one of the few frustrating aspects of the device has been its inability to run apps in the background. Apple revealed that the obstacle was mostly related to optimizing the power consumption of background apps to save battery life. After solving that problem, multitasking was quite easy. It will be rolled out to iPhones this summer and iPads in the fall.
While multitasking is a very welcome addition to iPhones, it will mostly serve to provide the smartphone with better entertainment value. After all, you can't do any real work on an iPhone. But for the iPad, multitasking has the potential for the new gadget to take on an important new dimension. With this new capability, they begin to compare more to netbooks and could actually be used for work.
If using the iPad in a mobile setting, then you still probably won't get much work done, since its on-screen keyboard will make productivity challenging. But if you've got it set up on your desk with a Bluetooth keyboard, suddenly it will feel a lot like a computer. You can switch back and forth between a spreadsheet, a presentation, an web browser, etc.