The multitasking approach is smart, sane, and scalable, I think. By nature, limiting the view of simultaneously-running apps to what is essentially a second dock is smart — even though the list becomes horizontally-scrollable, its visual confines will theoretically influence users to keep fewer apps open at once.
I don’t quite get how you’ll choose to quit apps, as opposed to exiting them whilst leaving them running, but I suppose we have plenty of time to learn about those nuances.
Other announcements, like local push notifications (so that developers needn’t rely on third-party servers and Internet access to alert you to data already available on the device) and Folders are certainly welcomed improvements. The biggest announcements, however, are the iAd and Game Network platforms.
Apple’s smart to try to own these areas on the iPhone. Bit players like OpenFeint may get screwed, but an Apple-powered, free-to-implement high score system and the like is good for developers and consumers alike. (It’s a waste of a developer’s time to implement a unique system, and that’s time not spent working on the fun parts of the game instead.) And if Apple’s able to find advertisers willing to create those custom “ad apps” that can integrate less invasively into the iPhone experience, I’m okay with it. Particularly if the ads are implemented less obnoxiously than some of the blinky flashy scrolly ads endemic to cheaper games these days.
The biggest disappointment — which, of course, could improve between now and the “Summer” release date (or even harder-to-wait-for “Fall” release for the iPad version) — was the lack of improvement to the modal push notification interface.
Today, if you get successive push notifications, the prior ones are lost to the ether by the newest arrival. Slide to unlock too quickly, and even that latest notification vanishes forever. Steve showed nothing different today, and that’s a shame. Apple can clearly do better here; push notifications should stack, retain a history, and be less invasive to your work flow.
But perhaps the biggest question of all is: Does “Summer” mean June? Or late August?