It doesn’t count if it’s ridiculously obtuse

NOTE: I am speaking from the view of someone who has zero programming experience. Therefore, if you have more input on this, please do correct me or whatever you wish. I’m @XodiumRetro on Twitter. I don’t bite. Promise.

We’re on the cusp of another WWDC, and with it, inevitably we are going to see iOS 16 and macOS 13 introduced.

One of my long held wishes for iOS is for iOS to gain some form of true multitasking. And by that, I mean being able to start a task in an app, leave to go do something else, and come back to hopefully find said task finished. Telegram is an excellent example, in one of the chats with some friends we’re always sending memes and junk back and forth, and when on a cellular network a 10MB file that would send in seconds on a Wi-Fi connection can take almost a minute on a congested LTE connection.

If you start a send on Telegram on most Android phones (saying most because some Android phones kill apps so ridiculously fast it makes iOS look good), you can back out and do whatever you want and the file send will complete in the background easily.

On iOS, it will continue to send for a little bit, but if it’s taking really long (say on a fairly crappy cell connection) iOS will kill it. This is true for most apps of the same purpose, like Facebook Messenger, Twitter DMs, etc.

Time and time again, I’ve said on Apple-related places that I really wish iOS would gain the ability to let these apps finish their file transfers in the background. I usually get a lot of agreement! But inevitably, some smartass with The Book of Everything You Can Do in Swift pipes up and tells me that actually, Apple does let you do this stuff, the developers of those apps are just “too lazy”. 

That’s the thing, though–are these developers being too lazy? Or is the means of doing stuff like this in the background so ridiculously obtuse and limited in scope that developers have opted to just not bother? Because to me, it almost feels like the latter rather than the former. I doubt messaging apps would intentionally cripple functionality like this if it made sense and Apple offered a method that did what it said on the tin.

In that case, it doesn’t count in my eyes if Apple has a function that promises everything if the means to achieve it are as obtuse as possible to prevent people from actually using it, or if it’s so limited that in actuality it doesn’t make a difference in the end. (Say, background transfers are allowed, but only at dial-up speeds or something equally obtuse.)

Which is why I continue to push for this to be a thing that should be looked at for iOS 16. Because if Apple truly has a way for developers to do file transfers and such in the background, I feel like the lack of adoption for it makes it sound like it’s something mired in conditions and drawbacks such that most everyone has determined it’s better to do without.

(Oh, and this isn’t even mentioning iPadOS, where such restrictions are downright comical given Apple’s pitching of the iPad as a computer replacement and a professional tool at the upper end.)