My iPhone Lost Its Home Key

When I got my iPhone 3G, the Home Button was a lovely little place. Pressing it brought me to the cute little springboard, where I could flick back and forth, browsing my collection of sterling applications to run. It was wonderful. The Home Button was a place of possibilities. The largest physical switch on the device, it beckoned you to Try New Things! Do More! It was wonderful.

Sadly, the magic is gone. My Home Button is gone.

My Home Button has become the Stop What You Are Doing Button.

Listening to music via Pandora, and you need to look up a recipe? Press the Stop Button first.

Playing Glyder or Assassin’s Creed and need to check the weather? Stop, in the name of Jobs!

In the midst of your Twitter feed and need to check a meeting time? Stop! Leave your Twitter feed Now!

Reading news with Fluent News or CNN and need to jot a note down? Give up, press your Stop Button.

This really sucks.

Every day I use my iPhone. I probably press that damn key 50-100 times a day. Every time I press it, I am more annoyed that Apple hasn’t gotten off its revenue-generating butt and given us multi-tasking.

Every day, their flagship product (and oh yes it is that) annoys me. Can’t be good for business. Makes me wonder about an Android phone. A guy at work has a G1, and the browser is not awful. It multi-tasks. Probably doesn’t drop calls all the time.

Please, Apple, do something about this. Add an ‘Expert’ mode, make me have to buy it as a $25 add-on option — I’ll do it. In a second.

Because still, while my iPhone can do wonderful things, there are a ton things it can’t do that my ancient Motorola Q running Windows Mobile could do, years ago.

And that is sad. And clearly, at this late juncture in the iPhone OS’s lifetime, it is entirely a choice by Apple.

(And no, Jail-breaking is not an option. I have a 3GS, which only has a tethered Jailbreak available. And my iPhone sees iTunes about once every 6 months. I loath iTunes. Any Jailbreak solution which depends on my having iTunes around whenever I reboot the iPhone is not a solution.)

I wonder if Steve Jobs’ iPhone makes him leave Pandora to look at his Email? Bet not.

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10 Comments on “My iPhone Lost Its Home Key”

  1. sedwards Says:

    I had this same discussion over on Facebook last week, only the platform in question was the iPad. Same issue, though.

    What I have come to realize is that, as techies, we are in the minority when it comes to wanting, or even caring about, multitasking on the iPhone. Or on computers in general, for that matter.

    I’m sure you have had this experience when trying to help out a “normal” person with a computer problem. You ask the user in question to open a particular application (say, a control panel, system preferences, whatever), and the first thing he or she does is quit out of whatever app is currently in use. It’s annoying, because the running app could have just been hidden, or even ignored completely.

    But here’s the thing: to most people, there is no difference among quitting an app, closing its open document windows, or hiding it. It all just falls under the heading of “make the app go away so I can do something else.” So, not having read the little Finder/Doc booklet that came with the Mac (or equivalent for Win), they end up just selecting the old “Quit” option. Running more than one program at a time never even enters the equation.

    Realizing this made me feel less annoyed about Apple’s decision to forego multiple executing apps on the iPad. They’ve trimmed down the UI by eliminating a function that most people would never use anyway, and thereby helped to make the device simpler to understand.

    Now back to us techies. Yeah, you’re right, it’s annoying. But think about this: what is the difference between 1) leaving an app that keeps running when you switch to another one, and 2) leaving an app that stops running when you switch to another, but when you switch back, re-launches with saved state so quickly that you don’t even notice? Other than performance, there really isn’t any difference in these two scenarios (no, I haven’t forgotten about your precious audio streaming; apps like that would definitely benefit from multi-tasking).

    So I guess I’m agreeing with you. But with emphasis on the fact that multi-tasking (more correctly, multiple simultaneous user apps) really is an “expert user” feature that most people don’t care about and wouldn’t use.

    By the way, you’d probably have to hit the Home button to switch between multiple running apps, too. 🙂

  2. Mick Says:

    Have you ever had the opposite experience when helping out a “normal” person with a computer problem? That being they have tons of programs running because “there is no difference between quitting an app and hiding it”. And then they wonder why their computer just doesn’t seem to run quite as fast as it should. Seems like Apple has found a way to avoid this problem 🙂

    • sedwards Says:

      Not recently, come to think of it, unless you count malware (and Norton AntiVirus). But same illness, different symptom. 🙂

    • designbygravity Says:

      Nope. Never quite seen that. And, after living with Windows Mobile (which worked hard to put you in that situation), I cannot believe Apple couldn’t create a UI construct to manage multitasking.

      Has to be by choice.

      • sedwards Says:

        Of course it’s by choice. They didn’t want people to inadvertently trash the performance of their phones. For the reason I talked about: most people have no understanding of multitasking or its implications.

        When they can do 3 GHz multicore on the iPhone with reasonable battery life, then you’ll see multitasking.

        • designbygravity Says:

          I think that battery power/slow phone argument is a complete red-herring; have you used a G1 or Droid with multitasking? The G1 is (relatively) old, and handles 2-3 apps at a time and doesn’t blink. My old Q could handle 2 at time, and it was, comparatively, an abacus.

          Do you really think that *Apple* of all people could not design a UI to allow folks to manage multi-tasking effortlessly? Seems ridiculous to me.

          • sedwards Says:

            No, I haven’t used a smartphone that supported it, so haven’t been able to get a feel for it myself. I only know what I’ve heard about Apple’s rationale, which is to avoid letting the phone grind to a halt because of overloading the CPU. I’m not saying it’s a *good* rationale, or even the real one.

            However, I would think that Quartz, Core Graphics, Core Animation, etc. would be pretty resource hungry compared to other rendering frameworks. Maybe they are just trying to be conservative. Or maybe Apple just knows something about the architecture that we don’t.

            My point was that for the average user, it isn’t an issue, because they tend to chart a serial course through the interface anyway–even on a PC. I know lots of non-techie iPhone owners, and none has ever complained to me about lack of multitasking.

            I forgot to mention the conclusion I drew from the Facebook discussion, which is that the whole notion of launching and quitting apps is antiquated. It’s the equivalent of assembly language instructions for the GUI, and it hasn’t come very far since command line days.

            I think it’s time to evolve this paradigm. I’d like to see my machine organized in terms of features or capabilities, rather than apps. For instance, if I have a photo in front of me, I’d like to reach into my toolbox for the best color enhancer. I don’t care where I originally got it or who wrote it. As long as it understand the object I’m working on, it should just function when I use it. And I’ll put it away when I’m good and ready (probably when I trip over it, like in real life). The OS should worry about managing the executable resources for me under the hood, including starting, stopping, and suspending processes.

            Well, that’s the dream, anyway. There’s a glimmer of this in the OS X “services” framework, so who knows.

  3. john Says:

    I think you should buy new one.

  4. Serial keyz Says:


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