Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 3.0 software, announced yesterday and due this summer, will introduce more than 100 new features and more than 1,000 new app hooks that programmers can plug in to. But third-party radio and music apps like Pandora, Last.fm, and AOL Radio are still at a disadvantage versus Apple’s built-in iPod app.
Specifically, from what we’ve seen publicly, third-party music apps still can’t play while you’re using the phone for anything else, such as browsing the Web or reading e-mail.
The issue: Apple doesn’t allow apps to run in the background for performance reasons. Smartly, we think: Allowing background apps, in general, would be a drain on your battery and processor.
We assume radio apps, which need an Internet stream and audio processing, would be prolific battery drainers. Especially if you’re trying to listen to a Pandora stream while playing a game.
That hasn’t stopped radio apps from becoming popular on the iPhone: Pandora was the top free iPhone app last year, according to Apple. And other music apps stand to benefit from some of Apple’s other new features, such as access to the iPod music library and in-app transactions.
It’s possible that Apple is waiting to surprise everyone with background processing on a new iPhone with multi-core CPU and mega-battery. Or that it will come next year, or someday. But so far, the iPod app stands alone.