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Pandora promises background listening for the iPhone

iPhone OS 4

You can listen to Pandora just about anywhere if you’ve got an iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android (or at least anywhere that your respective network can reach). But there’s one thing missing on the iPhone: background listening. That, however, is about to change, according to Pandora’s Tom Conrad.

“Some weeks ago Apple invited us to a secret meeting where they revealed that background applications were coming to the iPhone OS 4 and that they’d like to use Pandora to show off these new capabilities at their big iPhone OS 4 product unveiling,” he wrote on Monday on Pandora’s blog. “Under the new operating system, Pandora will stream in the background while you use your iPhone to browse the web, read an e-book or play a game.”

Pandora sent an engineer to Apple to get its software up to speed for OS 4. ” This of course was all done with the utmost secrecy,” Conrad says. “Just a tiny handful of people even inside Pandora knew what we were doing.”

None of this is very secret any more, of course. According to Apple’s iPhone OS 4 page, developers will be able to take advantage of seven multitasking services,  “which will allow tasks to be performed in the background while preserving performance and battery life. So you’ll be able to make a Voice over IP call while playing a game or checking email, find a restaurant on Urbanspoon while listening to Pandora, and more.”

The event was a “lifelong dream,” for Conrad, he says. “The Apple folks are masters of these types of presentations and it was an incredible experience to get to experience it from the inside. As our Founder Tim [Westergren] and I stood on stage presenting, there was a moment about halfway through where my nerves calmed enough (The software was going to work! It was going to be ok!) that I could just enjoy the moment and just take it all in. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.”

Apple says OS 4 will be released this summer for the iPhone and iPod touch; some time this fall for the iPad.

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