Apple iOS 4: iPhone 3G and the missing Wallpaper

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 | Business | by

I saw on Engadget, Why Your iPhone 3G Didn’t Get Backgrounds with iOS 4 — and wanted to comment.

The problem is people are unhappy their iPhone 3G (and older models) doesn’t have the ability for custom backgrounds.

From the article, a letter written to Steve Jobs and the response:

Hey Steve! I just upgraded my iPhone 3G to iOS 4 and was really looking forward to setting a background on my home screen. Guess that’s not happening, but I’d like to know why.

See, I get why you don’t include multitasking. My iPhone gets pretty hot when certain apps run, couldn’t imagine how multitasking would fry my phone.

But the background thing, I don’t see how that would be memory intensive and/or battery draining. It doesn’t seem like that feature needs to be exclusive to the 3GS and 4G.

I hope this email finds you in good health.

Erica

.. and the reply by Steve Jobs …

The icon animation with backgrounds didn’t perform well enough.

Yes, it sucks that users don’t get new features (I did like the tone Erica used in her email, it wasn’t annoying or accusatory, just curious).  I’ve seen around the internet various receptions of this “lack” of new functionality.

Poor Steve Jobs.

I don’t say it much, as I am critical of the decisions he makes in certain areas … but I honestly think he tries to maximize the user experience.  Personally I feel it should be up to the end user (I like options, because I understand them).  Steve has to think of everyone.

From a technical perspective, the iPhone 3G is an impressive device.  I’m sure it’s crammed to the top with functionality to max out capbilities.

Comparing iPhone’s to jailbroken iPhone’s isn’t fair.  The target audience of a jailbroken audience is the exact type of user who is capable of making these performance decisions themselves.  They know if its slow, disable some functionality.  Regular iPhone’s are for “everyone”.  They must cater to everyone.

I don’t remember where I read it, but someone analyzed the memory availability of an iPhone 3G and found out that a wallpaper adds about 1MB of memory usage.  That’s not much when the device has 128MB.  It is a lot when you consider that 90% of the 128MB is already taken up.  I believe the 1MB memory usage came out to approximately 5% of available RAM when you account for running processes.  Add to that, all of a sudden those icon animations require alpha transparency.  I’m not sure if Apple used this before, but they could have optimized performance by not using alpha transparency on icon animations if the background was static.

Now we have 5% less RAM (in an ideal situation), a harder animation to do, on a platform that has 1/4 the resources of the platform the code was meant for.

I think we should be happy that we get free updates to functionality every year, and that we can assume our device will still feel “like new” when we use it.

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1 Comment to Apple iOS 4: iPhone 3G and the missing Wallpaper

kissmo
July 4, 2010

I am too getting some problem in changing themes and unlock wallpapers…

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