Multifl0w Is The Real Deal – Real, Slick Multitasking for the iPhone (jailbreak only)

multifl0w iPhone multitasking app

Multifl0w is easily the best multitasking experience I ‘ve seen for the iPhone.

When I first saw a video demo of Multifl0w for the iPhone I thought it looked very promising.  Now I know it ‘s much more than that “ it delivers a slick and effective multitasking experience for the iPhone.  Better than any others I ‘ve seen so far.

The app was just released tonight on the Rock (jailbreak) app store and I ‘ve been giving it a good run for its money “ and it is hugely impressive to use.

I ‘ve only had the app for a few hours, but here are my early impressions and some more screencaps

Install

I used the Rock store to install Multifl0w, but it ‘s now showing up on Cydia too.

The install ‘s default settings offered to install the Backgrounder app (which is required in order to ‘enable ‘ apps for running in the background and for using Multifl0w) and also to uninstall Kirikae, presumably because Kirikae also uses a double-tap of the home button to launch.

multifl0w muslitasking app on iPhone

Apps Support

Mutlifl0w works with any app that you enable to run in the background, via the Backgrounder app, as well as the built-in apps that run in the background by default (Mail, Safari, iPod).

Interface / Usage

Once Multifl0w is installed, you use Backgrounder to enable apps to run in the background, and then use a double-tap of the home button to launch Multifl0w.  Once it ‘s launched it shows you images (bigger than thumbnails, taking up around half a screen in height) of each running application.

You simply swipe left and right in Multifl0w to scroll the active apps and tap on any of them to switch immediately to it.  The images displayed in Multifl0w are of exactly the spot you were at within each app when you last left it, not just an app splash screen or similar.

Swiping to scroll among running apps is very smooth “ and you can also easily use a standard flick motion to move quickly from far left (where the longest open / first opened) app is located to the far right, where the most recently opened app is found.

Everything works smoothly and quickly “ and makes switching between apps faster than any other method I ‘ve seen so far.

Multifl0w iPhone app

Performance

Testing out Multifl0w has served as an excellent reminder of just how incredibly solid and powerful the iPhone 3GS is, and how eminently capable of multitasking it is.

I started out running 6-7 apps for a while “ things like Evernote, Things, Tweetie, Newsstand, Mail, 1Password, and Analytics App.  Zero noticeable lag, slowdown, or performance hit.

For most of the time I ‘ve been testing, I ‘ve been running 10 to 12 apps at a time “ with most of the above apps in the mix, plus a couple of games (Paper Toss and Scramble 2), the Kindle app, RSS Player, BuddyFeed, and Safari with 4 pages open.  And I still saw no slowness or lag, though at the 12 apps mark I did get a few crashes from the Scramble app.  The rest of the apps have just kept sailing along “ and are still doing so as I write.

multifl0w for iPhone

Free memory got down as low as around 4MB at one point, but mostly stayed at just over 10MB.  Even with these low levels of available RAM, the system has stayed solid and amazingly also just as speedy as ever.  Whether scrolling in the Multifl0w view, or in the speed of the actual app switches, or working within apps,  it ‘s just about as fast as ever.

multifl0w

SBSettings and mQuickDo both continue to work with Multifl0w installed, as neither relies on home button presses “ although mQuickDo doesn ‘t work well if invoked while the Multifl0w view is up (which makes sense) and will likely be obsolete for me very soon anyway.

In terms of effect on battery life, I ‘m sure there will be some with all the backgrounding this enables, but haven ‘t been using the app long enough to say much on this.  I can say that in the first hour and ten minutes of heavy usage, with 10-12 apps running most of the time, my battery percentage dropped by 15%.  That doesn ‘t strike me as outrageous “ but I ‘ll need to use this a lot more to see for sure.

What ‘s Missing?

It ‘s late where I am, so I ‘m not feeling crisp and I ‘m sure I ‘m forgetting some things in this area.  For now, my one wish list item for the app is the ability to quit a running app from on the Multifl0w screen (maybe via a press and hold rather than just a press on the app image).  This would be easier than using SBSettings, Backgrounder, or the iPhone ‘s force quit mechanism to close apps down and gain some resources back.

Overall

Multifl0w is great.  I had fairly high expectations for it after seeing the video demo, and it has easily exceeded those.  It is a pleasure to use and for me it has taken multitasking to a whole new level on the iPhone.

It has shot straight to the top of my favorite jailbreak apps list, as joint favorite alongside PogoPlank.  With PogoPlank giving me the ability to run 170 apps on just one home screen, SBSettings allowing for quick toggling on and off of key services, and now Multifl0w providing real multitasking, my iPhone has never felt better or more powerful.

You can find Multifl0w in the Cydia and Rock jailbreak app stores now.  It ‘s available on a (10 day I think) trial initially, and costs $4.99 to purchase.

UPDATE: I’ve used strikethrough above on the text mentioning the app being available in the Cydia store.  Apparently the developer has decided to have it out on only the Rock store for now.



  • http://intensedebate.com/people/joshgard Josh Gard

    And another amazing JB app that makes me want a 3GS even more just so I can finally experience decent JB. You guys are killing me with all these great finds!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/hurley Diego Petrucci

      Same applies for me. But we must hold on until the 4G is released. It's a sort of technological penitence for all our sins :)

    • curticusq

      There is already an app called Kirikae that does everything that Multifl0w does better and you can terminate apps aswell. Only other difference is the fancy screenshots.

    • curt

      Kirikae is better and free.

  • Rip

    Which source is it from in Cydia? It's not showing up for me.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

      I think I was mistaken about Cydia availability – think it just shows up in managed packages for me because it sees what's been installed via Rock. I've never used Rock before last night. I can't get Cydia to load properly right now to check.

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  • Joao Filipe

    Hey, nice blog!
    Which source must I add to find it?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

      I think I was mistaken about Cydia availability – think it just shows up in managed packages for me because it sees what's been installed via Rock. I've never used Rock before last night. I can't get Cydia to load properly right now to check. Try the Rock store for now.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/FrankCatalano FrankCatalano

    I think I JB my phone @ just the right time. I love the last sentence b/c I feel the same way…. PogoPlank, SB Settings, & MultiFlow is a killer trio to have on the phone. Things are great!!!

  • Mak

    Will it work on a iphone 3G? What will be its performance on an iphone3G?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

      I've seen the dev say on Twitter that it will work with a 3G, depending on available free memory and similar. You'd have to try it and see – I haven't seen any first-hand reports on how it does on a 3G.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/joshgard Josh Gard

        Ok ok, I'm going to try this out on my 3G. I'll let you know how well (or not) this works for me. :)

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

          Excellent! Thanks for doing that Josh.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/joshgard Josh Gard

          Wow, now I'm quite impressed. Re-JB (again!) using blackra1n, then installed Rock and finally Multifl0w with backgrounder. I'm currently running Mail, Safari with 4 tabs, Tweetie 2, RTM, Notes, and Byline, and the swiping between apps using Multifl0w is still very smooth and fast. And this is on a 3G. Also seems to switch apps quicker than Kirikae did.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

          Oh, that is very impressive and very good to hear. Thanks for the update Josh, and glad you're getting good use out of it.

  • someon

    Works really well, but I do now miss the favorites function that Kirikae had.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

      Favorites is cool, but the smooth, fast swiping between apps is much nicer I think.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/aflorence aflorence

    2 questions:
    1. Does Backgrounder kill Voice Control (because it uses the hotkey of holding down home button)
    2. Favorites (brought up by double home tap) is killed due to Kirikae using double home tap right?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

      1. Yes, mostly I think. You can still invoke Voice Control easily if you drop down to a home screen, but if you tap and hold with an app in the foreground (so to speak) you'll be toggling its backgrounded status.
      2. Yes. Multifl0w has no Favorites equivalent that I've seen thus far.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/sysrage sysrage

        Sorry, but not entirely true. It doesn't prevent voice control from working inside apps. If you want voice control, just keep holding the button. Backgrounder kicks in before voice control would. So if you want voice control, hold the button, then when the backgrounder notification pops up just keep holding it and voice control will come up. Backgrounder will then be enabled for that app, so you would need to disable it, but it doesn't prevent VC from working.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

          Oh – good call then. It never occurred to me to try that. Was too caught up in seeing if I could run 93 apps at once and open 25 web pages and generally run the 3GS into the ground :)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/paliacci paliacci

    I love the Multifl0w software…Well done to the developer. This is one of those rare software that is worth every penny being asked for. Its great !!!!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

      I have to say – I've already seen enough to purchase it. Very happy to support this developer.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/sysrage sysrage

        It definitely looks nice. I don't agree that it's worth 5 bucks, though. The hard part of creating this was already done. It uses Backgrounder which was already available for free. This app, although very 'pretty', doesn't add much functionality at all. I much prefer mQuickDo since it not only lets me switch between running apps, but has the app launcher to run any other app I want from wherever I am preventing me from needing to keep things running and wasting memory that don't need to keep running (Beejive, Twitterific, etc.). In its current form, Multifl0w is worth maybe 1.99 but I probably would only pay .99. If they add a quicklauncher (plenty of room for it) and a way to close running apps from inside it, then it would be worth the cost.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

          It is worth the price for me. I previously had the same approach to backgrounding apps as you – I was not super keen given the presumed battery life trade-off it implied and I felt happy with the speed that my most frequently used apps launched with from 'a standing start' via mQuickDo or Kirikae. The ease of use and slickness of Multifl0w is very impressive though – and also I've found that for apps like Evernote and others, it really is a huge advantage to be able to switch quickly not just to that app, but to the note I was working on 3 minutes ago. Big time saver and productivity boost there. I'm sure I will not run around most of the time with 12 apps running just because I can, as I expect that will blow my battery life away too quickly – but for certain apps, this is a big plus..
          Oh, and I think I'll likely let Multifl0w and mQuickDo co-exist – as mQuickDo still has its strengths and also it may save just a little strain on the good ol' home button. :)

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/sysrage sysrage

          I wasn't trying to imply that nobody should buy the app. You know me and how I always give my opinion without sugar coating things. Or maybe you don't. Forgot I finally signed up with Intense Debate. Can you guess who I am? ;)

          Anyway, if it's worth it to you all, by all means please support the dev. I'm hoping he does get enough purchases to make it worth his time to improve the app. It's just my opinion that it's lacking in those two features to be worth making the switch. I'd love it even more if he added more ways to call it. I would buy this in an instant if I could swipe down from the status bar to see a scrollable view of running apps with their screenshots, have 4 or 5 icons along the bottom to launch frequently used apps that aren't already running (with badges), and swipe the screenshots up or down to close them.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

          Oh, I understood you weren't suggesting the app was not worthwhile for anyone at its current price – but just stating that it didn't seem good value to you. I'm a lousy guesser – more hints needed, or just the answer.
          I would love to see more ways to call it as well, and the way you suggest is fine by me as long as it plays nice with SBS. I'd prefer a screen gesture to invoke it, as I'd rather not be pounding away on the home button all day long.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1093623932 John Steele

    Could I use this with a navigation program (Navigon) and a chat program? Essentially, I'd like to be navigating along, switch to chat (not via the slow push method), and then back again. Or similarly, if I am playing a game, and I want to check Facebook. Would it pause my game progress, allow me an always up-to-date Facebook, and then back again?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/sysrage sysrage

      Yes. Backgrounder does all that. Multifl0w just gives you a pretty way to switch between them.

    • someon

      Hopefully you have a 3GS and not a 3G if planning on multitasking with Navigon. There's really just not enough RAM on the 3G to have this work reliably (really almost not at all). Facebook is also somewhat of a memory hog which tends to kill other backgrounded apps when running for a while (as per the OS behavior). Otherwise, it works great for most other apps.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/sysrage sysrage

    Dev just tweeted that he's sticking to Rock only for now. Poor choice in my opinion. I think it's a mistake to not give users a choice. I'm not the only person to refuse to use RYP. Maybe there are too few of us now to matter, though.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

      Agree – that's a bad call. I'm not the world's biggest Cydia fan, but it is the leading jailbreak store and it needs to be in there. I'm updating the post now to cover the Cydia part.

      • http://www.facebook.com/bothwell.brian Brian Bothwell

        Looks like our tweets made a difference. Apparently he's going to ask Saurik to host it on Cydia after all. Maybe wait until he actually does before updating the post again. :)

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/sysrage sysrage

          Doh. Somehow it logged me back in with Facebook. Enough of a hint? ;)

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

          LOL – that would've been my guess – but I chickened out :)

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

          Yeah, will watch for a bit before updating further.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/FrankCatalano FrankCatalano

    Does anyone that uses PogoPlank have a problem with the Font size changing under the folders? For 2-3 folders the font size will change to a smaller text compared to the rest of the folders. I checked under settings to see if there was something to change the font size & there was not…. Any advice?

  • Zan

    I have Kirikae at the moment, and I do like that you can close apps from there, so as you said, having the ability to close apps would definitely be useful. A big red X on the corner of the apps as you scroll past them, and then they disappear would do the trick.

    Another thing Kirikae has is a favourites page. It has never worked properly for me (crashing springboard) however it would be good to have that feature as well.

  • Mosesvii

    It's showing in Cydia now. Just search for it. I did however receive an error when trying to purchase the app. Not sure if that was me or the site.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Shobizz3000 Shobizz3000

    Ok!!! Now this is what i'm talking about!!!! Loving it. I saw the preview video and was waiting for release. I scooped it up last night (though I hate the fact it's not in cydia and only in the rock app!). And since then, I've had all my favorite apps running continuously(Newstand, facebook, CBSsports mobile, scrabble, mail, ipod) without a hitch, and have enjoyed just playing around jumping from app to app. And like you said Patrick, I haven't noticed any significant battery hit at all, which makes me even happier! Now let me ask you PJ, is it just me or does your mail.app only show the word mail and not a screencap?
    Tho only improvements I can suggest right now are the same shared by others: 1) A favorites section where u can launch apps, and 2) A way to force quit a running app.
    And actually those are very minor to me, and aren't gripes at all. I believe this launch version was a very succesful starting point for a very powerful extension. Also I'll make a suggestion to you other multifl0w users. A lot of people have been talking about using sbsettings' process tab to quit their running apps. My personal opinion is that it's a little quicker and natural feeling to just switch to the running app I want to quit using multifl0w, and just hold home to disable backgrounding, thus closing the app and killing the process. Just feels a little smoother to me…
    Happy fl0wing peeps!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

      Glad you're loving this one too. Sorry to say that may just be you on the Mail app – mine shows just like other apps, in fact shows Inbox contents quite well.

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/sysrage sysrage

        I have read other posts about the Mail.app issue. Apparently Multifl0w needs a cue of sorts to tell it to take a screenshot of the app. Since Mail.app is already backgrounded before Multifl0w starts if you have push enabled, it's not able to grab the screenshot. One post I saw just said you need to open the Mail.app and it will grab the screenshot. Another said you need to force quit Mail.app, then re-open it. YMMV

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/Shobizz3000 Shobizz3000

          Yep, god deal man. The force quit and then the relaunch resolved the issue. Thanks. Not too big of a deal, just wonder why that issue is affecting some and not all users. It seems the process flow should, for the most part, be the same on all phones. The ones that it's working on it seems must have multiflow launching before the mail.app launches, thus letting it recognize it needs a screenshot. Hmmm…. I assume i'll have to do this with every respring or boot, but at least I know the fix. Hope it's temporary.

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  • nik

    how can u close one of the windows while in multifl0w

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/patrickj patrickj

      Tap on the X icon on the app's card, or swipe upwards on the app's card.