Sling Media is currently examining its options for development of a version of its SlingPlayer Mobile application for the iPhone and iPod touch, according to statements made to iLounge. Dave Zatz of Sling Media told iLounge in an email, “We were definitely one of those 100,000 who downloaded the iPhone SDK, which we’re currently evaluating. We know it’s a hot platform and we’ll see what our options are.” Sling Media CEO Blake Krikorian has previously said that he had spoken with Apple about the possibility of streaming to the iPhone, stating the company “would love to support” the platform. The company has also previously confirmed that it is working on making its streaming products compatible with the Apple TV.
Microsoft is currently examining the possibility of developing applications for the iPhone, including versions of its Office apps, according to a new report. Speaking with Fortune, Tom Gibbons, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Specialized Devices and Applications Group, said, “It’s really important for us to understand what we can bring to the iPhone. To the extent that Mac Office customers have functionality that they need in that environment, we’re actually in the process of trying to understand that now.” Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit, which is responsible for the development of Office for Mac, has long been one of the largest groups of Mac developers outside of Apple, giving it experience it can leverage when developing for the iPhone. “We do have experience with that environment, and that gives us confidence to be able to do something,” Gibbons said. “The key question is, what is the value that we need to bring? We’re still getting comfortable with the SDK, right? It’s just come out. So we had a guess as to what feasibility would be like, now we’ll really get our head wrapped around that.”
The article also points out that voice recognition unit TellMe, which was purchased by Microsoft last year, may be interested in building an iPhone application as well, so long as the SDK allows it access to voice recording and location-based information. “If the SDK supports these things,” said general manager Mike McCue, “we’re absolutely going to get a version out there as soon as we can, get TellMe out there on the iPhone.” Thus far, Apple has suggested that location-based information would be accessible to iPhone SDK developers, but has not offered any hope for voice recording functionality.
Google has added support for new APIs for accessing Contacts data and for YouTube browsing and uploading, as well as compatibility for the iPhone SDK, in version 1.4 of the GData Objective-C Client Library. Google’s Greg Robbins explains, “Perhaps you want your iPhone software to send photos to a Picasa Web Albums account, or keep a journal of phone calls automatically in Blogger. Maybe your iPhone application accesses a database of information from a Google Spreadsheet or from Google Base. With the Google Data APIs Objective-C Client Library, creating software for these tasks is straightforward.” Once installed, developers can use the GData APIs in iPhone applications just like they would when writing a Mac application. The library offers access to Google services such as Blogger, Calendar, Contacts, Notebook, Picasa Web Albums, YouTube, and more, and is available as a free download from Google. [via IntoMobile]
The iPhone will soon receive its own version of Adobe’s Flash Player, a popular web plug-in capable of performing audio, video, and animated art content, according to Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen. “We believe Flash is synonymous with the Internet experience,” Narayen told investors during a conference call, explaining that the company has been evaluating Apple’s iPhone software development kit, “and we are committed to bringing Flash to the iPhone.”
Adobe’s announcement follows Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ comments that both Flash Lite, a mobile-optimized Flash player, and the full-fledged Flash player for PCs and Macs were not viable iPhone-ready applications. Shortly thereafter, Microsoft licensed Flash Lite for use on Windows Mobile devices. It is presently unclear how the iPhone version of Flash Player will integrate with the iPhone’s Safari web browser.
Updated: Adobe has issued a statement noting that any Flash Player integration with the Safari web browser will require “work with Apple beyond and above what is available through the SDK and the current license around it,” rendering the company’s earlier commitment to the iPhone merely a statement of intent rather than a formal guarantee. “[W]e want to work with Apple,” Adobe said, “to bring these capabilities to the device.”
In an apparent effort to reassure developers who applied for early participation in the iPhone Developer Program and last week received notices of temporary rejection, Apple today sent out a mass e-mail with helpful development links and a more detailed message regarding their status.
“We have many more requests than we can serve during this initial beta period,” explains the follow-up e-mail, “so we must limit the Program at this time. We plan to expand it during the beta period, and we will contact you regarding your enrollment status at the appropriate time. We appreciate your patience.”
The e-mail contains links to Getting Started videos and documents, as well as sample code, coding how-to’s, and an iPhone Reference Library, providing additional tools for developers who already have access to the free iPhone SDK beta and on-Mac simulator.
French game developer Int13 has revealed that it has successfully begun porting its Crazy Kart 2 racing game over to the iPhone and iPod touch platform. The game, which appears to be a clone of Nintendo’s Mario Kart series, features a 320x320 playing area, a virtual steering wheel touch control, 3 vehicle classes, 6 different characters, downloadable content, and Wi-Fi online multiplayer. The company said of the release, “Thanks to it’s simplified controls and flexible camera system it was not too hard to adapt it’s interface for the iPhone touch screen, but we’re still evaluating alternatives (like tilt control and landscape display).” On the iPhone’s graphics prowess, they added, “The game is perfectly smooth on the iPhone : constant 60 FPS with a pure software engine, we already plan to work on a sequel with a full 3D accelerated engine to exploit the full potential of the device.” No exact release date has yet been set, but the company is aiming for a July debut. Continue reading to see a YouTube video of the game in action.
According to the official iPhone Human Interface Guidelines recently published by Apple, only one iPhone application may run at a time, and third-party iPhone applications will not be able to run in the background, posing a potential challenge to developers. “Only one iPhone application can run at a time, and third-party applications never run in the background,” the document states. “This means that when users switch to another application, answer the phone, or check their email, the application they were using quits. It’s important to make sure that users do not experience any negative effects because of this reality. In other words, users should not feel that leaving your iPhone application and returning to it later is any more difficult than switching among applications on a computer.” These guidelines may limit the usefulness of apps which benefit from a persistent network connection; it is unclear whether Apple will allow select partners, such as AOL and their AIM client, to bypass these rules. [via Daring Fireball]
Gameloft has announced its intentions to develop games for the iPhone, with plans to release more than 15 titles by the end of 2008. Utilizing the newly-released SDK, the company’s development teams have already begun working on the games. “The iPhone gaming environment opens a new era in mobile gaming and is exactly what we’ve been waiting for,” said Michel Guillemot, President of Gameloft. “The Apple iPhone has changed the way consumers perceive and interact with their mobile phones, and the release of the SDK is a tremendous opportunity for Gameloft to apply its creative and innovative approach to mobile gaming. Due to our investment in creating one of the most advanced and creative development studios to date, we are ideally positioned today to seamlessly integrate new opportunities and quickly produce games that are as evolutionary as they are enjoyable.”
Confirming details previously disclosed to iLounge, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and VP Scott Forstall today used the iPhone Software Roadmap event to officially discuss the development requirements for iPhone and iPod touch software. Under the iPhone Developer Program:
Abilities: The iPhone and iPod touch Software Development Kit (SDK) will enable developers to access most of the iPhone’s hardware functionality, including its sensors, camera, EDGE and Wi-Fi antennas, as well as its Mac OS X-like software resources such as Core Animation, Core Services, Core Audio, and OpenGL. Applications will not be able to access the devices’ Dock Connectors, other than for purposes already specified by Apple. Tools will be provided to help developers create and debug applications quickly, using either an iPhone Simulator or an actual iPhone/iPod touch device.
Development: The SDK will be available to developers for free starting today, however, strings are attached. Apple will charge a $99 fee to join its new iPhone Development Program, which will include the generation of a digital certificate that will identify the company when its applications are published, and the ability to run your applications on an actual iPhone or iPod touch. Additionally, the SDK will only run on Macintosh computers. A $299 fee will be charged for the Enterprise Program, specific to developers “who are creating proprietary, in-house applications for iPhone and iPod touch.”
Publishing: Apple will publish all iPhone applications, regardless of the developer, making them accessible through iTunes and a new App Store icon on the iPhone and iPod touch. The applications will be hosted and distributed solely by Apple, and all transactions will be processed by the company, with a 30% cut of all sales going to maintain the App Store. This figure, roughly the same percentage as what is paid to Apple by artists selling music through the iTunes Store, leaves 70% to the developers, who will be paid on a monthly basis. Developers who do not want to distribute through iTunes can create web applications or stay off of the platform altogether.
Limitations: Apple will not distribute pornographic or malicious applications, or ones that will invade privacy, but has suggested that its interest is in getting as many applications out as possible, not in restricting applications. The company plans to use both the digital certificate program and the App Store to prevent bad applications from affecting too many users: users will be able to report malicious applications, enabling Apple to disable access to them from the App Store, and the company claimed that it will track and contact developers of problem applications. During a Q+A session, Apple also said that it will limit the ability of VOIP applications to use the cellular network, but will not restrict that over Wi-Fi, and that it will not allow carrier unlock software to be distributed through the Store.
Funding: Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins has developed the iFund, a $100-million pool of funds designed to help the firm find and back budding iPhone developers. The goal is to locate and build up entrepreneurs whose talents can grow what the firm believes to be an even more significant invention than the personal computer, given the iPhone’s mobility and access to communications networks.
Limited, U.S.-based Developers Only: According to the page, “The iPhone Developer Program will initially be available to a limited number of developers in the U.S. and will expand to other countries in the coming months.”
Future Versions of the SDK to Come: Interface Builder, a UI development application discussed by Apple during the Event, is not included in the initial SDK release. “Future releases of the iPhone SDK will include Interface Builder to make designing a user interface as easy as drag and drop.”
Enterprise Developer Benefits: As a component of the $299 fee, “iPhone enterprise customers will be able to create a private page on the App Store accessible by their employees only.”
Free SDK Available Now: The SDK can be downloaded from this link.
Having previously released titles for the iPod, Electronic Arts and Sega today showed demonstrations of advanced games running on the iPhone platform. The first demonstration, Electronic Arts’ Spore, was based on a Will Wright title previously announced for current-generation game consoles, computers, and handhelds. Spore places you in control of an evolving spore-like creature that can be customized to grow stronger and bigger as it defeats enemies, eventually evolving into a multi-cellular creature capable of leaving the planet. Unique iPhone features of the game include touchscreen and tilt sensor-based controls. Spore has been announced for a late 2008 release on other platforms; Electronic Arts says that the game will be available to “play” on iPhone in September. No price has been announced.
Sega’s demonstration of Super Monkey Ball has not yet been confirmed as a full-fledged iPhone game, but is highly likely to become one based on comments from the company at Apple’s iPhone Software Roadmap event. Based upon the Nintendo GameCube game and subsequent releases, Super Monkey Ball places you in control of a monkey inside of a ball, who traverses grid-like mazes in 3-D. Control is achieved by tilting the iPhone, rather than using an on-screen controller; the game looked slightly below PSP quality in the demonstration form, but still impressive by handheld game or cell phone standards. No release date or pricing has been provided.
iLounge is currently live at the Apple iPhone Software Roadmap Event in Cupertino, California. The event will begin at 10:00AM Pacific Time, 1:00PM Eastern Time. We will provide updates from this link as the event progresses.
The scene inside Apple’s Building 4, where the Event is being held. Journalists, analysts, and certain developers are currently awaiting entrance into the small Apple auditorium chosen for this event.
Representatives of companies such as Nike have been spotted inside. We plan to offer additional updates as the Event progresses.
As of 9:51AM PT, the crowd was welcomed into the Town Hall auditorium. At 10:00AM, the event began.
Steve Jobs, Apple CEO: Thank you for joining us this morning for this special event. A few statistics: for the first 8 months, the iPhone has garnered 28% marketshare of smartphone market. The iPhone is really bringing internet to mobile device for the first time. You really have the Internet in your pocket. iPhone is 71% of the US mobile browser usage.
Phil Schiller and Scott Forstall will be doing the heavy lifting. iPhone in the enterprise is first.
Phil Schiller: Customers have wanted to adopt iPhone into the enterprise. Genentech, leading biotech company. They have thousands of iPhones deployed within the enterprise: company says it’s a watershed event for their mobile computing. Also, universities are large customers with huge networks: Stanford has hundreds deployed from faculty and staff.
A lot of things people have told them would make iPhone huge in the enterprise. First, great e-mail integration. They want push e-mail directly from servers. They also want great calendar integration, no matter where, pushed to them. Also pushed contact information. They want more VPN, with Cisco support built right into the iPhone. They want enterprise class Wi-Fi and 802.1x, WPA2 security. And they want to be able to protect data if an iPhone is stolen. Apple is doing all of those things in the next version of iPhone software.
Microsoft Exchange support right into the iPhone. Licensed ActiveSync so it can go directly into the iPhone, work with corporate exchange servers. The old way of doing this is to get updates from network operations center, which needs to get info from inside of a proprietary messaging server inside of a firewall. Takes a lot of money to maintain. That’s the old way. Microsoft has a more advanced way. ActiveSync now lets you work directly with an Exchange server, which is more reliable and portable. You will get push e-mail, push calendaring, contacts, and global address lists. It will be built into the apps already on the iPhone. Same e-mail app on iPhone will work with Exchange server, same calendar. Same contacts. Provides the best solution possible, best integration.
Product demo, with help from Bob Borchers from product marketing (previously shown in the iPhone introduction video) sending information from a computer within the room. Information such as contact, e-mail, and calendar data is being created by Bob and sent to the iPhone, appearing right away on the iPhone’s screen. That’s what push is about—having stuff get sent directly, instantly from the server to you without forcing you to refresh or wait around. In the event of a theft, the phone can be pushed to be wiped, protecting your data.
Nike has let Apple deploy the enterprise features of iPhone on test within their site, and is happy with it; Disney has done the same. These are the features customers have been asking for, and that’s it on the enterprise.
Scott Forstall: Talking about the iPhone SDK. First, an update on web apps: Developers can built apps with web technologies. Has been incredibly successful, with over 1,000 web apps for the iPhone. They have continued to get better over the last 8 months, enabling developers to put icons on the home screen of the iPhone to take you to apps. Facebook and Bank of America have great web apps. BOA is the largest bank in the USA, and the industry meter for mobile banker. Now lets users bank from the iPhone. Already the most popular device for BOA mobile banking customers - over 25% of all mobile banking. Web apps will get even more, soon.
Apple will give same internal native APIs and tools to third-parties, letting them build the same SDK Apple has been using. There are a lot of pieces that make up the SDK. Mac OS X has four layers - core OS, core services, media layer, and Cocoa, the UI app framework. The first three went straight to the iPhone. Cocoa is the best app framework out there, but it’s based on keyboard, so Apple updated it for the iPhone with a touch API, called Cocoa touch. This is the architecture of the iPhone OS.
Core OS: This is the same OS X kernel as used in Mac OS X. Optimized in certain ways, for low-memory on the iPhone, but it’s the same kernel. Networking kernel is the same. Power management is even better on the iPhone—automatic. Core Services: Address book. You can have applications talk directly to contact database. Also, you see that you can triangulate your location through Google Maps; now you have this in an API for location-aware other applications. Media layer: iPhone is a great iPod. Core Audio is part of it, on top of this you have OpenAL, an industry standard audio API for multi-channel three-dimensional positional audio, great for game developers. Built in. Video playback is seamless, using H.264 codec. Core Animation, powerful APIs to create layered animation. It was built in many ways for the iPhone; every animation on the iPhone comes from this. OpenGL Embedded is a screamer for 3-D graphics on the iPhone. Everything is heavily hardware accelerated with great, long battery life.
And Cocoa touch: built around touch as an input concept. Everything from single finger, multi-finger, to gestures. Multi-touch controls know all about accelerometer and other sensors in the iPhone. You mightn’t know that it’s a full three-axis sensor that applications can access. Web; there’s a Safari-based API. Also camera features. Years ahead of any other mobile platform for any mobile device.
A comprehensive set of tools will help developers build, debug, and create apps. Xcode was the basis, enhanced for the iPhone. Xcode is used for all apps on the iPhone. Knows all about APIs. Everything is managed for you. Integrates with your source code management system, letting you check codes in and out, create new branches, etc. You can plug your iPhone into your Mac, run the app live on your iPhone, and debug live from your Mac.
Interface builder is a tool to let you build your iPhone user interface. This is as simple as drag and drop. A complete library of all the UI controls from Cocoa touch is available. You can also localize to all languages you want to support.
Instruments is a comprehensive suite of performance analysis tools. You can compare interactions of different aspects of the app’s performance, and figure out easily how to optimize code based on realtime data from different parts of the app.
Xcode, Interface Builder, and Instruments will be joined by iPhone Simulator. This runs on a Mac, simulates entire API stack of iPhone, and includes some existing iPhone applications solely for the purpose of letting you see how they work. Full iPhone Safari is built in, with clicks simulating touches on the screen.
He’s going to build a Hello World application from nothing on stage. Single click from build to go. It’s just as easy to build live on an iPhone. Plug standard 30-pin cable into the Mac and iPhone. You can compile and drop into the iPhone with a click. Demonstrates use of touch, multi-touch, and use of the accelerometer in a new way—shake the phone to undo a change. Or use it to steer within a game application. And you can hear audio move around with 3-D positional audio. While you’re playing your game in debug mode, you can be tracking how it performs, and saving it on the computer to figure out how to optimize it—a stack trace will show you exactly where the frame rate falls, and what was happening to make it fall.
They’ve let a handful of coders send out a couple of engineers to see what they could do in two weeks with an SDK they have never seen before—some had not even used Mac before. Here are the engineers. Electronic Arts is first. They’re a leader in making mobile games. Travis from EA comes to the stage. They wanted to use a lot of iPhone features—video, audio, etc. They’re starting with Spore. Using accelerometer lets you control Spore. Goal of the demo is to beat things smaller than you and become bigger. You can customize the gameplay using the touchscreen, adding additional limbs to the spore character, and move things around. They’re only demonstrating 2 levels in the demo, but have gotten all 18 working already. They threw in a cutscene just to show how the video of the iPhone could be used.
Next up is Salesforce.com. They provide software as a service, world’s leader in on-demand CRM services. Chuck Dietrich. 63,000 platform applications can be brought to the iPhone, and company’s customers will enjoy using them. Salesforce Automation (SFA) application lets you manage who and what is being sold on the road. Reps would love to see how they’re doing towards their monthly goals, providing rich reporting and analytic details to provide key metrics of business performance on the road. Goal is to let people who know how to use iPhone use apps developed for iPhone—simple. Reps can be shown exactly where to focus on sales opportunities; the iPhone lets you send more data to people if they’re detected on Wi-Fi than on EDGE network, which lets Salesforce choose how much data to push out to people on demand.
Next is AOL, which runs AIM Instant Messaging. AOL in two weeks has created AIM for iPhone. Provides status messages and buddy lists with icons instantly. Starting a conversation, live over the AIM network, was really exciting for the first time. You can swipe between multiple active chats that are going on at once. There is also a status panel so you can update what’s going on with you for your contacts. You can also pick a photo from iPhone and use it as your contact image, sending it directly to AIM servers so friends can see that as your image.
Every doctor knows about Epocrates. Company rep comes up to explain how doctors will be able to access drug formulation information, most common drugs prescribed, adverse reactions, and lots of clinical content. Also, existing functionality from company lets you do a check as to whether a new medication added to existing ones in person’s system can have a harmful effect. All of the animation between menus is handled by the iPhone. Drug identifier helps you do something new when a patient comes in and says they don’t know what the drug was they’ve taken—a drug can be IDed by matching it against known physical characteristics of a drug in the database.
Last is Sega. What would be great to bring to iPhone? Super Monkey Ball. Powerful SDK gives you ability to create 3-D graphics, tilt the iPhone to control the monkey ball on screen. Even if you don’t know what to do, you can figure out how to move the iPhone around to control it. This is not a cell phone game. It’s a full console game. And Sega underestimated what the iPhone could do: they had to bring an extra artist in to produce the graphics for the demo. The game looks sub-PSP quality but very, very good.
Once you have all of these amazing apps, how do you get them on your iPhone? Back to Steve Jobs.
Steve: What is your dream as a developer? To get it in front of every iPhone user. That’s not possible today because developers don’t have those resources. Apple will solve it by selling through the App Store, an application that will deliver apps to the iPhone through the next release of the software. Apps will be downloadable through iPhone. You can browse the Store in an interface similar to the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store. If you’re interested in getting an app, it gets wirelessly downloaded through cell network or wi-fi. Also through iTunes to browse and download. If you download an app, and it’s been updated by the developer, app store will tell you, and you can instantly get an updated version of the app. The App Store will be the exclusive way to get iPhone applications directly to iPhone users.
Developers want to know the business deal. Developer picks the price, gets 70% of revenues. Apple keeps 30% for hosting, credit card, marketing and running the App Store. Pay is monthly. Developers can also give apps for free. No charge for free apps hosted through Apple. Limitations: Apple will not distribute porn, malicious apps, or ones that will invade privacy. But Apple wants to get a ton of apps out there.
How will this be delivered: it will come in iPhone 2.0 software update. It will combine SDK plus all the new enterprise capabilities. Beta release going out today to thousands of developers and hundreds of companies, to get feedback. iPhone customers will get it in June, as a free upgrade. One other part: it’s not just the iPhone, it’s also the iPod touch. Same software will run on the iPod touch too, including the enterprise features. There will be a nominal charge for the iPod touch update.
How to become an iPhone developer: Go to Apple’s website. Get the SDK for free, run it on a Mac. But then you have to join the iPhone developer program if you want to run it on an iPhone or an iPod touch. Then you can distribute the app. It’s $99 to join the developer program.
One last thing: Kleiner Perkins, a leading venture capital company. Kleiner loves Apple-related entrepreneurs. Jobs’s own story is one of entrepreneurialism, failure, and then resurrection. Funding—they announce the iFund for the iPhone platform. It took millions to start some major companies. iFund is $100-million fund. Today, launch of the SDK will create the next big platform for Apple, providing a broadband pocket solution that knows who and where you are. They see it as bigger than the personal computer. They want to recruit great talent to build amazing companies. Matt Murphy and others at the firm will run the fund, and help entrepreneurs to create the next generation of companies.
Refreshments for everyone outside. Press will be staying for the next few minutes for a Q+A.
Steve Jobs: Ten minutes for Q+A. What does the $100 million do for the iPhone developer community? It gives small companies an opportunity, and Kleiner a chance to fund great new developers.
This is about serving customers, and enterprise needs. iPhone has been out for less than a year, and Apple is moving very fast to get people as happy as possible.
Application limitations: It’s a big concern that apps can be viruses, violate privacy. On one side, there is a closed device like the iPod that always works. On the other side is a Windows PC where people spend time every day trying to get it back up to be usable. Apple wants best of all worlds. No malicious apps. Apple will have developers register for $99, giving an electronic certificate that tells Apple who the devs are. The distribution will be through the App Store, so if there is a problem, they can turn off the spigot. Other forms of limitation are being kept by Apple to itself right now. They’ll do best job they can and learn as they go.
If something slips through the cracks, they can turn off access very easily.
VOIP: The initial take is that Apple will only limit VOIP over the cellular network. It will be allowed over Wi-Fi. They won’t be usable at all over the cellular network, at least initially, this may liberalize over time.
Exchange/Enterprise: You can have multiple e-mail accounts, contact databases, calendars, etcetera. You can only have one Exchange account at once, however.
Apple as exclusive distributor, monopoly? If they don’t sign up with Apple, they cannot distribute their apps on the iPhone. Web apps will continue to be supported without using the SDK. Apple does not intend to make money off of the App Store, says Steve. It’s just like the iTunes Store. They just want an efficient channel for developers. This system, notes Phil, provides a great way to provide free apps to people as well, with Apple’s servers and store there to provide support that developers themselves couldn’t afford to provide.
Will carrier unlock software be permitted? No.
How much will iPod touch software update cost? Will accounting change for iPod touch over time? Apple does not look at this as a profit opportunity.
IT managers - how can they convert from Blackberry to iPhone? Because of Exchange server with ActiveSync, it’s easy. Tools will be given to IT managers to let them configure devices via e-mail or a secure web site.
Rollout: This is international, and will be in all of iPhone countries. This is not an open-source project. It is for profit, to help sell iPhones.
How can enterprises distribute their own apps to their employees? There will be a special system for this.
What if an enterprise does not want employees loading their iPhones up with applications? Steve says they will have to discuss and think about that. However, Scott suggests that parental controls will let people turn off things like Safari or the App Store, and perhaps this can be extended to enterprise.
Why change your mind from last year, only allowing web applications: They have worked really well, but developers gave feedback that they wanted to do even more with the iPhone. To create an SDK is a lot of work, and it’s taken some time. Teams have been working tirelessly going through single API calls over 10 iterations, trying to make sure it all works.
Will there be a waiting period before apps are available to customers? The iPhone software development program is new, letting devs securely submit applications in a whole new process electronically. No additional details.
Carrier relationship: Apps were previously released through carriers. How does this work with carriers? Bandwidth would be a concern. This, says Steve, is part of the new relationship: Apple is responsible for the software on the phone, not the carriers.
Will developers be allowed to interface with Dock Connected accessories: In iPhone 2.0, there will not be APIs for this, anything different from what iPhone does now.
That’s the end of the event.
According to several sources familiar with Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch software development kit (SDK) plans, the company will use a March 6 event in Cupertino, California to formally announce a number of potentially controversial limitations on application development and publishing. Our sources spoke on the condition that their comments were not for attribution, independently confirming the following details, and offering differing opinions of their importance. We include both the details and opinions below for your reference.
iTunes Store as hub. Least controversially, Apple plans to require that all mobile applications be distributed through its iTunes Store, making the Store a necessary hub for those interested in browsing or purchasing iPhone and iPod touch software. While one source suggested that a company’s well-trafficked website or product packaging would be considerably more practical places to distribute certain types of software, another source lauded the Store as a logical place for Apple users to locate and purchase applications.
Apple as application picker. The most controversial aspect of Apple’s SDK plan is its intention to formally approve or deny all SDK-based software releases for its devices. Our sources confirm that Apple will act as a gatekeeper for applications, deciding which are and are not worthy of release, and publishing only approved applications to the iTunes Store; a process that will less resemble the iTunes Store’s massive directory of podcasts than its sale of a limited variety of iPod Games. While one source saw this as a positive for major developers, suggesting that Apple will be choked by application submissions and forced to give priority to releases from larger companies, another source disagreed, stating that Apple’s current approval processes for third-party products have resulted in lengthy, needless delays. It is unclear whether Apple will need to approve subsequent bug fixes and feature additions to accepted applications, another issue that could clog the approval system and postpone important improvements.
No accessory connectivity. Under current plans, SDK developers will be prevented from interfacing directly with Dock Connector-based accessories connected to the iPhone or iPod touch—a decision that we are told could cripple development of new accessories such as physical keyboards, traditional add-ons, and more ambitious, creative accessories such as Delphi’s iPhone car control prototype. One source described this limit as a guarantee that SDK-developed applications would be nearly as limited as current web-based ones, while consuming more of the device’s storage capacity. Yet integrated iPhone or iPod touch features such as the phone, Wi-Fi, and camera will be developer-accessible, certainly permitting development of programs that weren’t possible before. It is presently unclear whether Bluetooth 2.0, which is included in the iPhone but crippled to permit only monaural phone call streaming, will be opened to permit stereo audio streaming and data functionality as well.
Sources told iLounge that the collective impact of Apple’s decisions will be to control and stifle third-party development at a critical juncture in iPhone and iPod history, limiting what could be an open, thriving Mac-like collection of applications and accessories to a smaller, more stagnant iPod-like controlled environment. Consequently, a source suggests, developers who “jailbrake” iPhones and iPods to develop applications will be at an advantage relative to those who use Apple’s official tools. Even after extensive discussions on the subject, however, iLounge remains open-minded to the idea that Apple’s plans will result in net positives for the iPod and iPhone community, and optimistic that the company will loosen its planned restrictions to accommodate the Apple community’s demonstrated, impressive creativity.
According to our sources, Apple will use the March 6 event to tout the benefits of the SDK to selected media, analysts, and developers, releasing an incomplete, “beta” version of the kit that was originally promised for February. The actual kit will now ship in June, coinciding with Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference event in San Francisco. Additional announcements regarding iPhone compatibility with popular enterprise software, including Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes, will also take place, in an effort to convince corporate users to adopt the iPhone despite reservations over its on-screen keyboard and e-mail functionality.
Ambrosia Software has released iToner 1.0.6, the latest version of its custom iPhone ringtone utility for Mac OS X. New in iToner 1.0.6 is support for iPhone software 1.1.3, as well as support for .mp3 .mp4, .wav, and .aif files, French, German, and Italian localizations, intelligent audio processing for added ringtones, and various other fixes and enhancements. iToner requires Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later and sells for $15; a free trial download is also available.
Ecamm Network has released iPhoneDrive 1.4, the latest version of its file management and backup utility for Mac. iPhoneDrive enables iPhone and iPod touch owners to use the devices’ unused storage as they would a disk drive, and also allows access to certain files for backup purposes. New features in version 1.4 include the ability to access and backup call history, SMS messages, and camera photos, as well as the ability to play music stored on the iPhone or iPod touch. IPhoneDrive 1.4 requires Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later and iTunes 7.3 or later, and sells for $20.
Makayama has released VoiceDial, a new third-party iPhone application that lets users control their devices with their voice. The application, which requires a jailbroken iPhone, lets users dial contacts with their voice, and also supports voice-activated application and bookmark opening. The software uses a modern speech recognition algorithm that compares what the user says against voice samples that the user records and assigns to various contacts, applications, and bookmarks. Makayama VoiceDial is available now and sells for $28.
Ambrosia Software’s iToner, one of several programs that enable iPhone owners to create and manage their own ringtones from their choice of music and other audio files, will soon see major upgrades, according to the company’s president Andrew Welch. Due shortly, a new version of the Mac OS X program will hurdle the latest limitations Apple has placed on iPhone ringtones, enabling MP3 and other audio files to be automatically converted into the special MP4 format now required for iPhone ringtone playback. A subsequent release will offer simplified editing tools for ringtones, similar to features now included in GarageBand, the Apple-developed application found in the $79 iLife ‘08 suite.
But what about the huge number of PC owners who don’t have an easy way to create iPhone ringtones? Welch promised a near-term solution for Windows users, though perhaps not in the most immediate iToner release. The Mac version of iToner sells for $15 and is currently available for users of the iPhone’s older 1.1.2 system software.
Wizzard Media has launched a new podcatching web application for the iPhone and iPod touch. The new app acts as a podcatcher for any show with a RSS feed, and offers an email-like inbox for keeping track of subscribed shows. In addition, the app can import your subscription lists from iTunes, can export an OPML feed of your subscription list, and will soon offer the ability to subscribe to dynamic OPML feeds. The new Wizzard podcatching application can be accessed by visiting iphone.wizzard.tv from an iPhone or iPod touch.
Mark/Space, maker of synchronization solutions for Mac OS X, has announced The Missing Sync for iPhone. This new application will provide data migration of contacts, tasks, events, and photos from Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry smartphones, as well as the ability to archive, browse, and search iPhone call logs, SMS text messages, and notes. “Apple has made a powerful entry into the market with the iPhone,” said Brian Hall, Mark/Space president and CEO. “Prospective iPhone customers want to know that they can take their existing smartphone data with them, and Missing Sync for iPhone is designed to meet that need. Existing and prospective iPhone customers alike will benefit from enhanced access to their Call Log, SMS text messages and Notes.” The Missing Sync for iPhone is expected to ship in the fourth quarter of 2007. Electronic downloads will be priced at $40 from the Mark/Space Online Store, and CDs will be available several weeks later for $50.
Yellowpages.com has announced the launch of its new web application for iPhone and iPod touch. The application allows iPhone and iPod touch users to find local businesses and services by inputting a search term or category and location, and provides additional details such as user ratings, mapping, and driving directions. The new iPhone-optimized Web application provides a design developed specifically for the touch-screen and keyboard interface, and automatically resizes for both the vertical and horizontal layout of the screen. The new web app can be used by visiting yellowpages.com on an iPhone or iPod touch, and can also be accessed through Apple’s web apps directory.
WeatherBug has announced a new web application optimized for the iPhone and iPod touch and allows users to access streaming neighborhood-level weather conditions and video weathercasts. The application also provides international weather information, detailed views of the 7 day forecast, radar, and camera images from WeatherBug’s proprietary network of tracking stations. Additionally, the WeatherBug Web app allows users to set a variety of locations for multiple cities and scroll through current conditions, forecasts, radar and live camera images for each one. “The launch of our Web app means we have given iPhone and iPod touch users a great new way to access WeatherBug information while on the go,” said Chris Brozenick, vice president of WeatherBug mobile. “With the ability to access live, local streaming weather and videos the WeatherBug Web app is a first-of- its-kind and a breakthrough service for consumer and professional users.” The application can be accessed by visiting iphone.weatherbug.com on an iPhone or iPod touch.