Apple Inc.'s iPhone and iPad devices will soon be able to run more than one program at a time, an ability that phones from Apple's rivals already offer and that iPhone owners have long coveted.
Coming this summer to iPhones and this fall to iPads, these changes mean that users will be able to listen to music through the Pandora program and check a bank account online simultaneously. Currently, users must quit the open program, before starting a new task.
"We weren't the first to this party, but we're going to be the best," Apple CEO Steve Jobs declared Thursday, as bloggers, software developers and others in the audience greeted the news of such "multitasking" with applause.
"It really changes the way you use the iPhone," Jobs said. "You're bouncing around the apps with tremendous fluidity."
The updates will be available to all iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad models, the multitasking function will only work with the newest devices. So you won't be able to run multiple programs with the original iPhone or the iPhone 3G — only the 3GS versions that came out last summer. For the iPod Touch, you'd need the models that came out late last year.
Full multitasking had been high on many people's wish lists. Because Apple's new iPad runs the same software as the iPhone, changes would apply to that larger gadget as well. Some people have held off buying one because of its inability to run more than one program at once.