iPhone: Apple and The Art of the Possible
“Politics,” famously said German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck, “is the art of the possible, the attainable.” With the end of today’s much-anticipated Worldwide Developers’ Conference keynote by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, it is rapidly becoming clear that Apple—a company that has prided itself on being on the cutting edge of certain technologies—has become increasingly pragmatic, and focused on achievable, practical goals rather than abstract ones.
The company’s last-minute iPhone third-party development revelation is as good an example as any of the company’s current approach. If you’re interested in developing iPhone applications, Jobs told developers today, make Web 2.0 applications. They’ll run, like other web pages, in Safari. Good solution, right? It’s a practical one. iPhone’s Safari web browser provides a “good enough” playground or sandbox for developers to use until and unless Apple opts to truly open the iPhone up to dedicated application development.
Web-based apps won’t be able to tap directly into iPhone’s chips, so consequently, Web-based iPhone “applications” most likely won’t be able to fully exploit OS X’s coolest visual effects, and it would be a shock if users could run programs that as seamlessly access iPhone’s camera, data, photo library, and other stored media as the core set of main menu applications can. Examples provided by Apple of what developers can do—making a phone call, sending an e-mail, and displaying a location in Google Maps—appear to be comparatively simple, none implying that web apps will be able to access the iPhone’s (and therefore, your) personal content. There are obvious positives and negatives to that.
Our view is that Apple’s decision to offer such support is, in essence, a practical political move. Apple was once content to scoff at the idea of winning popularity contests on the grounds that it did things differently, and better. Now, like a politician focused on winning a majority, it understands that popularity can be a good thing, and that being popular means satisfying common requests rather than ignoring them.
Developers clearly want to create iPhone applications: companies have been announcing them, without any promise of Apple support or permission, since the iPhone was announced in January. Yet up until recently, Apple was dead set against allowing developers to create true iPhone applications, because it was concerned about compromising the device’s user experience, stability, or network security. Today’s solution costs Apple nothing; it publicly reconciles these competing views, at least temporarily, by letting developers create web pages that run on iPhone just as they would on a computer with OS X and Safari.
This solution also offers Apple the chance to continue with iPhone what it has started with iPod: establish untraditional, “cherry picked” relationships with third-party developers whose software is in Apple’s view best-suited to the device. If something works well as a web-based iPhone application, Apple can approach the developer to create an even better iPhone-specific version. Better yet, if something doesn’t fit within the company’s vision, it needn’t do anything: it can merely ignore the program, just as it does with widgets that it doesn’t want to get involved with.
Going forward, our questions are these: just how much web-style wrapping will surround third-party iPhone applications—will they look like simple web pages, screen-filling, URL-less widgets, or something else? And can they truly tap all of iPhone’s special capabilities, or just a limited subset? We’ll be looking forward to seeing what third-party developers can actually do with the iPhone, and what happens once they come up with something good enough to merit Apple’s interest.
- Mind The Gap: What’s iPad’s Role In An iPhone 6 (Plus) World?
- Editorial: Why I Switched To T-Mobile (And You Might, Too)
- Multi-Editorial: On Apple’s iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus + Apple Watch
- Editorial: Endings And Beginnings
- iLounge Multi-Editorial: WWDC 2014’s iOS 8, OS X Yosemite + More
- Editorial: Why iOS 7 Will Succeed, Despite Divisive Issues
- Apple issues workaround for Messages text string bug
- Apple acquires Metaio, an augmented reality company
- Apple stuck with court-appointed antitrust monitor
- Apple to unveil rewards system for Apple Pay
- GM bringing CarPlay to 14 of its 2016 Chevy models
- Upcoming kit will allow developers to build native Apple Watch apps
- Apple may debut new ‘Proactive’ assistant with iOS 9
- Google Search will soon surface content from iOS apps
- iOS bug allows peculiar string of characters in Messages to reboot iPhones
- iOS 9 Transit feature to launch in select cities
- Spigen Apple Watch Stand S330
- Griffin WatchStand for Apple Watch
- Apple iPhone Lightning Dock
- Witti Notti and Dotti
- PhoneSuit Elite 6 and Elite 6 Pro Battery Case for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
- Wren V5US Speaker
- Skech Base for iPad Air 2
- Anova Culinary Precision Cooker
- Phiaton MS 100 BA Earphones
- Olloclip Ollocase for iPhone 6
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Is there a point to having both iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Photo Stream enabled?
- Why can’t I set a longer passcode timeout on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Can I turn off Message Read Receipts for only some users?
- How do I share one iCloud Photo Library within a family?