iPod Touch Multitasking: How to Use Multiple Apps at the Same Time

iPod Touch Multitasking: How to Use Multiple Apps at the Same Time
Page content

Running Several Apps at Once

The iPod touch multitasking function allows users to run several apps at the same time. Previously, users could only play or use one app at a time. If you wanted to check your email in the middle of playing Assassin’s Creed: Altair’s Chronicles, you’d have to quit the game, open up your email app, check your email, close out of the email app and restart the game again.

But with multitasking, you can play an app and switch to another one just by clicking the home button and opening another app. The previous app will remain open and running until you completely close it out, which we’ll discuss in a moment.

Updating Your iPod

You can enable multitasking on the iPod touch 2G, no jailbreak techniques required, as well as iPod touch 3G models. The 4G models automatically come with this function built-in, so if you have a fourth generation iPod touch, there’s no need to enable multitasking through iTunes.

For those of you who do not already have the multitasking functionality on your iPod touch device, begin the installation process by plugging your device into the computer to open iTunes. The software will automatically prompt you to install the update. Confirm the installation process by pressing “Okay” in the update dialog box.

iTunes will back up your iPod touch before installing the update. Don’t disrupt iTunes at all during that time. In fact, you’re best off to leave the computer alone while it configures the update, or you could lock up iTunes. If the backup or update process fails, you can lose your place in the apps or have music deleted.

Once the update has finished installing, you don’t need to do anything else to your device; multitasking has been enabled.

Switching Between Apps

Many iPod touch owners don’t even know they can multitask with the newest updates. And since the new update doesn’t come with any instructions, the multitasking process isn’t necessarily very intuitive. The function runs in the background and does not really change the way you do much else on your iPod, its presence is less than obvious. Thus, you might need a few directions on using the multitasking function.

Let’s say you’re playing Asphalt 5, a car racing application. You receive a notification on your TextFree Unlimited app that says you got a text message. On the previous operating system, you would have to close out of the racing app to read and answer the text.

But with multitasking, you can “close” out of the app in the same way by clicking the home button, but the app will pause and remain running in the background. You’ll be taken back to your app screen, where you can select the TextFree Unlimited app and read your new text message.

When you’re finished texting, don’t close out of the app; double-click the home button. The screen will slide upwards, and a row of currently open apps will be displayed at the bottom. Slide this row to the left or right to select the Asphalt 5 app again. The TextFree Unlimited app will take its place in this row and remain open for later use. The Asphalt 5 app will now appear on the screen, allowing you to get back in the driver’s seat and finish your game.

Closing Out of Apps

The drawback to iPod touch multitasking the way Apple set it up is that, in essence, any open app stays running all the time. No longer does pressing the home button close out of the app entirely. It just minimizes it, like on a computer.

If you leave apps running in the background all the time, your battery will die very quickly. You have to completely close out of apps you are no longer using in order to conserve the iPod’s battery. Also, the device will slow down significantly due to decreased performance, so it’s in your best interest to close out of the apps.

To do this, double-click the home button as you did in the previous section to switch between apps. This time, tap and hold one icon. Wait until you see a little red “ – “ sign appear on top of each app. Tap this minus sign on every app you wish to completely close. This will conserve battery and keep your device from turning into a slug, as this terminates the application. If you want to open the application again, you’ll have to do so from the app home screen.

Final Tips

Try not to keep too many apps running at one time. Once you get past about ten apps running at once, you’ll slow down the iPod touch and find your battery tanking. Overall, this feature works wonders for saving time, though, so you’ll find yourself needing to spend less time waiting for apps to load.


Article written based on author’s own experience.

Image credit: Apple, https://www.apple.com/ipodtouch/