I like shiny toys as much as the next geek, but I don’t have an iPhone 4 for two reasons: firstly, I’ve spent far too much money on an iPad (so I have much less use for a smartphone); and, secondly, I consider iPhone upgrades to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary so my existing iPhone 3G has some life in it yet (even though the case has some nasty cracks and I may need to replace the back soon).
Given that my 3G needs to soldier on for a while, I’d like to be able to use it’s full technical capabilities, rather than being governed by Apple’s marketing decisions – and one feature I’m missing is being able to a run third party applications in the background. For example, I would like to use Spotify instead of the built-in iPod app whilst Runkeeper is tracking my rather slow progress at pounding the pavements of Buckinghamshire.
Luckily for me, even though Apple doesn’t allow multitasking with iOS 4 on the iPhone 3G, there are some clever hackers that have made it possible:
- First up, you need to allow the iPhone to run apps that are not available from the Apple AppStore. This is commonly known as “jail breaking” the device and there are various methods evolving as Apple tightens up the security on the device – jailbreakme.com is probably the easiest way for people who haven’t yet upgraded to iOS 3.2.2 or 4.0.2.
- The next step is to install the Backgrounder app, using Cydia (the package manager installed by the jailbreak process). Backgrounder is customisable and includes an FAQ with usage details but the basic principle is to start the app you’d like to run in the background (e.g. Spotify), then activate Backgrounder.
- Now, when you leave the first app and switch to run something else (e.g. Runkeeper), the first app should keep on running.