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iPhone to get background processes: No wait, it's interesting

We promise this isn't a dull story. The iPhone is rumoured to be getting background processes, meaning apps like Facebook can give you updates even if the program isn't running

MacRumours has "heard" that Apple might let iPhone users keep apps running in the background when not actively in use.

Your 'Yes, and?' comments are not entirely unexpected, so let us explain why this isn't the sign of a slow news day. Apple currently doesn't let any third-party iPhone app run in the background, primarily in an effort to save battery life. Background processes very slowly but surely consume power, and, if numerous processes did this at once, you could kiss goodbye to what is already a poor battery performance.

Permitting background processes, however, would allow instant-messaging apps to notify you when a new message arrives from a friend. It would also allow a social-networking app to tell you when a new friend request or event invitation has arrived. It could even tell you when you walk past another iPhone user in the street, whose interests match yours (should such a pointless app ever surface from a painfully bored developer).

None of these features is currently possible due to the iPhone's firmware. But, if MacRumours is to be believed, they soon could be.

Apple has previously announced an alternative to allowing background app processes that involves Apple-hosted servers pushing notifications to the handset. That wouldn't be a perfect solution, though, and it still hasn't surfaced, despite being slated by Steve 'My health is my business, bitches' Jobs to become available last September.

MacRumours believes user-configurable background processes will arrive with the next iPhone 3G firmware upgrade (no word on when we might see it, but June would be a good bet), and more robust alternatives in the next iPhone model (June would be a good bet for this, too).

Of course, other smart phones have offered background processes for a long time. But, you know Apple and its whole 'perfect ecosystem' obsession...

We'll keep you posted.