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Summary:

Google has released a Google Talk client for the iPhone that allows instant messaging as long as the application is open. I’d like to think of this as a nifty way around rising texting costs, but that’s unlikely, given how much time my phone spends in […]

Google has released a Google Talk client for the iPhone that allows instant messaging as long as the application is open. I’d like to think of this as a nifty way around rising texting costs, but that’s unlikely, given how much time my phone spends in my pocket. If this type of mobile app takes off, it will raise a usability question for the high-end phone and MID apps developers. So much of our PC lives revolve around multiple applications staying open — and around the user focusing on the machine — but that isn’t how people use their mobile devices. So how do you build a phone that allows for multiple programs to be open, and how do you alert users to changes in the app’s status without going through carriers?

  1. just recently the CTIA wirless association released an RFI for an enhanced messaging platform that would work across all carrier networks. group chat in the mobile space is sure to come & with it a new set of standards for mobile operators to adhere to.

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  2. Stacey Higginbotham Thursday, July 3, 2008

    Brian, cool, I’d like to learn more about that.

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  3. I don’t see why “swiping” an app off the main screen (on the iPhone) couldn’t be used as a “tasking” feature. During the keynote when AOL was showing off their chat client for the iPhone, the presenter switched from chat session to chat session by swiping. Perhaps swiping left to right for changing windows in the same app and swiping up and down could move you back and forth from one app to another? Just a thought. Or two.

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  4. if you use a blackberry like me you don’t have the one app at a time problem. i have gtalk open all the time on my phone.

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  5. It’s a -web- “application”, not a real installable client. You need to keep Safari open, and that means having it in the foreground. Also, this will not support closing Safari and taking advantages of the push notifications service Apple will provide, as far as I can tell.

    When they release a true standalone client please wake me up. Nothing to see here, move right along….

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  6. You do realize that there are other high-end phones other than the iPhone, right? This isn’t a problem for Windows Mobile or BlackBerries. They can run multiple applications at the same time and they have means of notifying the home screen that they have information even when they’re in the background. With 3G networking, they can even be exchanging data while on a call.

    Let’s clear the air here. Apple messed this up. It isn’t a problem for other high end phones. I assume they’ll fix it at some point in the future, but until you’re right, they’ve made the iPhone fairly useless for applications where quick response or continued connection is required.

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  7. I believe if you dig a little bit you’ll find a reference to the Apple notification system. That would allow notification to the user that an incoming message is available. The fact that the app won’t run all the time (in the background) is an Apple-ism; it has nothing to do with the carriers. Once you have an IP connection the carrier is merely a data pipe.

    Of course as noted in the comments, this is not yet a native app. I think you can assume this sort of thing will be much better once real IM clients come out in the next few weeks.

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  8. As other have already mentioned this particularly bad peice of usability is an iPhone limitation, not a phone limitation.

    According to the last news we heard on the iPhone SDK ‘no applications running in the background’ is set to be standard for them, with a server-side ‘push’ sending update notifications to the phone.

    This is by far the biggest limitation of the iPhone SDK, by contrast Android (and WinMo and BB) supports background services and user notifications central to its design without needing an extra server hop to get the job done.

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  9. Why ignoring Symbian OS for multi-tasking ?
    Why running all the way to iPhone or Android ?
    There is a big player (which lately got the backing of even bigger player – Nokia), call Symbian. It allows multi-tasking above it seamlessly and easily, and has many IM clients, much better than GTalk.

    Sometimes, a hype is just a hype, nothin’ more.

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  10. Apple has already addressed the problem that you raise. Referring to their last keynote, you will find that they plan on releasing a Notification System. This will enable applications to remain closed, however you quite easily could set presence to available and logged in at the server. Messages can be sent and displayed on the screen before launching the app. This of course requires a native app, and not a web based app, but it certainly is coming.

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