At the last Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) Apple announced a push notification service. This centrally Apple managed service would allow developers to create iPhone applications that get notifications of new data without the necessity of running said app in the background. Steve Jobs explained that many of the instability issues of current smartphones are actually caused by poorly implemented multitasking and crappy third-party apps. Therefore Apple made a strategic decision to prevent any third party app from running in the background. Jobs stated that Apple does not consider “simply allowing apps to run in the background” the right solution for this common problem and until “really finding a perfect solution Apple would not allow background processes to ruin the great iPhone user experience and performance”.
Notification services did surface in beta versions of the iPhone SDK but got pulled out shortly thereafter. Since then Apple never updated the developer community about the state of affairs.
Since Instant Messaging, Reminders and many other type of applications rely on the ability to receiving updates (from the cloud) even when they are not active, the absence of a solution started to annoy developers. In addition many great applications running seamlessly in the background became available in the jailbreaking community.
According to MacRumors, Apple may be considering background processes after all.
MacRumors states that a part of the 3.0 iPhone firmware, users might be able to decide on a per-application basis which app would be allowed to run in the background. This change might come in light of the enhanced processing capabilities which are expected for the next iPhone hardware release in the June timeframe.