"You know what, we glued this clunky multitasking mode on the side of an already kind of lost operating system. Are you excited? We surely are, because it super easy for you to multitask when you're in the mood for multitasking."
Seriously. Multitasking is not a feature and you shouldn't talk about it as one. Ever.
An operating system either is or is not designed for handling multiple tasks simultaneously. It's the behavior how the OS treats applications and their windows. Whether it's giving its user a desktop pedigree control over them or not.
Without doing a serious overhaul to your operating system, you cannot change those things. Adding another feature to the side will definitely not do that. It just makes you look funny.
Unless you make stuff up of course. And that's exactly what happens in those advertisements. That will make you look even worse than funny.
For the experience to be responsive and smooth, the OS needs to be lean and unobtrusive. After all, the OS will always be secondary to what user wishes to do with the device. Complex operating systems require more memory and processing power than simple ones, eating away system resources from user tasks like gaming, browsing or watching movies.
However, implementing multiple home screens, truckload of widgets, separate app drawers or dedicated places user needs to go, to do different things, is just an amusement ride. Disguised usually as personalization. Yet another dishonest word used to cram in features.
No. They do not.
Not a single one of them had anything to do with improving how the operating system handles applications or makes them perform any better. Neither do they make it any more personal. Personal is not about giving you more things to manage. Personal is about you, how a device fits to your needs.
But what they do contribute towards is increased operating system complexity, increased hardware requirements and development effort. The resulting software is slower to load, slower to learn, slower to develop, maintain and fix. Most unfortunately, it's also slower to use since user tasks aren second class citizens.
Why do people buy that stuff then?
Most of the time they have too much faith in technology. It's easy to show a potential buyer how to flick between home screens or play around decorating them, changing sizes of things and managing bits and pieces. Just an illusion of power or relevance. Merely additional things you need to do since it's there and you bought it.
When buying a hammer, the sales person will not tell you how easy that specific product is to keep on a table, or how well does it match with your favorite novel or coffee brand. You will not hear how pets in general think about that hammer.
Anyone buying a hammer would walk straight out, unless sticking around out of mad curiosity, to maybe get a glimpse of where the sales department ends and the padded cells begin.
But when it comes to phones and tablets, people just blindly trust the technology and ignore all the insanity. They trust that these devises with their operating systems and applications give user needs the highest priority.
Sadly the mainstream crop of smart-devices fail miserably in that. The operating system has become more important. Both the manufacturer brand and the OS are treated as celebrities. User tasks on the other hand can be stopped to save system resources.
The OS race is currently about coming up with desperate distractions. A race that rewards competitor with increased OS complexity, increased hardware requirements and increased development effort. A race funded by its spectators.
Everybody needs to stop supporting this unsustainable competition. Your local school will at least thank you for your donation.
Stop believing blindly in technology because it's so easy to get wrong.
Imagine a mobile operating system as a modern version of a workbench. Only, that this virtual counterpart travels in your pocket. A workbench that has apps instead of tools, to let you do different things. A workbench that runs on your smartphone or a tablet.
It's important that this virtual workbench is designed to support your intentions and the tools you need to fulfill them. Tools that enhance and augment your abilities. Anything outside that is not helping.
One key function of a workbench is to keep all your tools neatly arranged and easily found. When you have plugged in and properly adjusted several tools, it's important that there's plenty of room on your bench for them to avoid repeating unnecessary steps in preparing them for use.
It's how naturally you're able to switch from using a single tool to another one, that defines how good of a workbench you've gotten yourself. It's how much the "generator" inside the bench can provide power to your tools in relation to using it for the bench itself. How many tools it can support simultaneously, without you having to turn off some of the ones you need. It's how long can you go without having to top up the generator tank.
It's how the overall experience works for you, and for the tools you use.
Multitasking is not a feature. It will never be.
The next time when a sales person tells you how easy it's to flick between home screens, or how well does a widget or a tile match with your favorite novel or coffee brand, or how newly added features are approved by pets, and how all that will make you more efficient; walk out and buy a workbench.
At least you know it doesn't try to cheat or distract you from the purpose it's intended for.
That is an honest product. People. Demand the same from your smart-devices.
Thanks for reading and see you in the next post. In the meantime, agree or disagree, debate or shout. Bring it on and spread the word.