iPhone SDK: Apple to approve, distribute apps, limit accs | iLounge News

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iPhone SDK: Apple to approve, distribute apps, limit accs

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.

 

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Comments

1

Pretty lame!

Posted by Robert Larson on February 29, 2008 at 8:58 AM (CST)

2

I suppose I was foolish to hope it would be something better.
I don’t know which makes me more ill, the lack of accessory integration or the requirement that Apple approve every single app.
At that rate, it’ll be months before we see anything really cool and we can kiss any sort of gaming goodbye.

Jailbreak, here I come.

Posted by Miranda Kali on February 29, 2008 at 9:25 AM (CST)

3

I am terribly disappointed.  I understand that closed makes the iPhone safe.  A book is also safe.  A clock radio is safe.  A television is safe too.  I thought I was buying the world’s most powerful handheld computer.  Instead I was buying a closed portal to one company’s view of the world. 

Small companies will not be able to innovate applications for the iPhone.  Just wiped out what could have been a great cottage industry. 

IT organizations will not be able to write and load custom, proprietary applications.  Just wiped out a huge opportunity for demand. 

Owners will not be able to create their own applications.  Most people wouldn’t (and shouldn’t), but that will be all but impossible.

I realize iLounge is bored with reviewing products from second and third tier companies.  Much of what they create is boring, useless, or harmful.  But that is also where innovation comes from.  I am sure the large iPod accessory players will play along, but the ecosystem will be the worse for this.

It is interesting that this news followed after the news of iPhone being highest in corporate satisfaction and second in corporate buying plans.  I am absolutely sure the buying plans will change for many corporations when they realize they can’t write and install their own apps.  I know mine will.

The only winners here are the hackers.  Why bother following the authorized SDK when hacking will be faster, cheaper, and give you access to all of the hardware?

Anybody want to buy a used iPhone?

Posted by Chrystopher on February 29, 2008 at 9:41 AM (CST)

4

I can’t believe people are already complaining.

I’m actually relieved apple chose to control things around iPhone / iPod Touch application developpement.

In the end, it will only annoy some developpers or extremely specific power users, certainly not the majority of consumers, who have so far been flooded by disfunctional, broken, unsupported, buggy, expensive, slow java apps on their previous phone (if they ever dares download apps in the first place).

Now they’ll get a chance to buy or freely download, from an easy-to-use interface (iTunes), software that is guaranteed to work on their phone.  I believe that’s a first in this industry ... and certainly nothing to dimiss because of minor omissions (like accessory support).

Posted by litldevil on February 29, 2008 at 9:44 AM (CST)

5

I agree with litldevil. Apple have released a new os version and their primary responsibility in the early phases is the stability and security of the platform.

Those who hack their phones have helped apple as security testers so apple can get a start on closing down security threats.

Now apple can, stage by stage, open the opportunities for customization. At each stage, they need time to respond to new issues that arise.

There are parties who would love to create apps that make the iphone receive negative press, such as automatically using the network to pump up your bill, and those who’d love to scan your mail for personal details.

Over time, apple’s slow approach will hopefully lead to an apple experience on the phone, and not a microsoft one.

Apple have showed in the 2008 MacWorld Keynote that they will build, carefully, on the devices they create, adding value even to originally lame ducks like Apple TV. It will come.

Posted by PXT on February 29, 2008 at 10:19 AM (CST)

6

Chrystopher: To clarify, iLounge fully and enthusiastically supports small and large developers alike, and almost completely agrees with your suggestion that innovation comes from smaller companies. While some of the industry’s larger players also are capable of creating innovative products, a lot of early good ideas, with the trial and error of testing, are pioneered by smaller companies. The jailbreak movement on iPhone and iPod touch, for all of its issues, has demonstrated the value of small developers when given the right platform. Any move that limits innovation by responsible developers, whatever their size, is a concern to us.

Our major concerns about physical products from smaller developers revolve around limitations they may (or may not) have on manufacturing reliability, fulfillment, customer service, and warranty obligations. In the context of software, these concerns aren’t all as important. And it also bears mention that even big developers have problems in the categories above. So there are many reasons we would hope that small software developers are put on a level playing field with the big guys going forward.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 29, 2008 at 10:20 AM (CST)

7

sorry but the only news here is that the SDK will be delayed until June. Everything else, including Apple’s control of apps was totally predictable and a given in my book.

Posted by shawn on February 29, 2008 at 10:30 AM (CST)

8

Was this honestly different then anyone was expecting?

It is Apple after all. They always operate like this.

Posted by ort on February 29, 2008 at 10:31 AM (CST)

9

say what you want about the redmond, they seem to have a much more open culture than apple.  one of the things i love about my pocket pc (and to a lesser extent my black) is the ability to try out third party apps.  I’m strongly considering an iphone (although I have a couple of touches in my household) but the lack of 3g, lack of physical memory 16 gb not enough, and the lack of 3rd party apps are deal breakers in my mind.

given the slow down in IPOD sales… apple may want to think about tweaking the model a bit.

Posted by Carlos on February 29, 2008 at 10:53 AM (CST)

10

I’m willing to give Apple the benefit of the doubt here and see how this turns out.  If we end up with a variety of reasonably-priced useful apps that increase the value / utility of my iPhone, then I’m all for it.

The completely open model for 3rd party development that Windows Mobile has is part of the reason I have recently abandoned WM in favor of the iPhone, so I’m not upset that Apple is choosing a different path.  Namely, 3rd party apps on WM are an excuse for piss-poor built-in apps, are an extra and yet necessary (given the poor quality of the built-in apps) expense, and often cause instability and crashes (Today plug-ins anyone?).

If I want to play around with 3rd party apps, I still have several WM devices to play with.  But my iPhone is my daily driver that needs to handle calls, email, and web surfing while allowing me to share photos and video and play music.  3rd party apps will just be icing on the cake for me, but I don’t want the icing if it’s going to spoil the cake.

Just my 2 cents.

Posted by Dyvim on February 29, 2008 at 11:13 AM (CST)

11

Carlos,
the “open culture” in Redmond produced the Zune. What a fine device that is…

Posted by RNB in Bakersfield, CA on February 29, 2008 at 11:20 AM (CST)

12

Relax people. It only makes sense that Apple picks what apps are distributed on iTMS the same way they choose what iPhone web apps, Mac apps and Dashboard widgets are showcased on Apple.com. There’s plenty quality Mac software but there’s also lot’s of junk. If I were in Apple shoes I would do the same thing, choose the apps the best showcase the iPhone, iPod touch, the Mac platforms.

That said, I guarantee there will be a way to load apps onto the iPhone w/o going through iTMS. Ideally users will be able to download any app from the web, copy them into iTunes and then upload them to their iPhone. If not through iTunes then some other third party app.

Posted by ron on February 29, 2008 at 11:27 AM (CST)

13

I wasn’t expecting much better. But it does seem that Apple is getting a little more consistent at missing target release dates. I’m still sitting on the fence between buying a Windows Mobile device (HTC Tilt) and buying an iPhone. The linchpin is going to be Exchange support. So hopefully, the “Enterprise” announcement on the 6th is that the iPhone will have a software update to be able to play nice with Exchange and that it won’t be June until it shows up.

Posted by badams on February 29, 2008 at 11:31 AM (CST)

14

They should do the same thing for the MAC. Put that bad code under control…!

Posted by look on February 29, 2008 at 12:05 PM (CST)

15

If this is true I’ll be a little disappointed, but as others have said it is to be expected.

Unfortunately Apple’s philosophy is for closed systems, which I can understand the “benefits” of from their point of view and potentially for the safety of customers but again as people have said this could really stiffle innovation which could sell even more ipods for them. 

I am planning on buying a touch and I would do so for the features it already provides rather than future potential, but at the end of the day I’ve paid my money for it so it is my device not Apples, I should have a choice of what I can do with it. I dont think the jailbreaking community are going to go out of business yet.

I wonder whether all of these approved apps will HAVE to charge or whether people will be able to distribute them for free should they so choose?

Posted by robroe in Manchester, UK on February 29, 2008 at 12:05 PM (CST)

16

If true, this is exactly what I expected them to do.  The big question is whether they will force application developers to have their applications digitally signed to be able to run on the iPhone, something that other cell phone makers have done. Also, is whether people will be able to load apps on their own with the iTMS. I’m sure there will be a hack to do it, but I’m hoping there will be a legit way Apple offers people to do this.

I also hope they give the larger developers lower level access so that they can develop hardware accessories.

The big surprise for me is that it’s not gonna be ready until June. I was holding off on jailbreaking my phone again until this came out, but no way I’m waiting that long!

Posted by Ray on February 29, 2008 at 12:08 PM (CST)

17

Do Mac OS X software developers jump through as many hopes? Are they strangled at as many points? No? Then why do this to the iPhone and iPod Touch? This just gives Nokia’s Symbian products more ammunition.

When I had an S60 device, it was as easy as can be to purchase (from sources other than Nokia - imagine that), install, and use software.

If anything, Apple’s making this process harder, not easier, for both developers and users. And I thought Apple’s raison’d'etre was to simplify technology?

Posted by The Doctor on February 29, 2008 at 12:42 PM (CST)

18

People are suck pricks now… every time there is ANY announcement anymore all I hear is complaining on these forums. I jailbroke my iPod back in 1.1.2, but I got sick of having buggy apps and a less streamlined interface, so I did a factory restore and am happy with the “stock” iPod Touch. Lighten up guys, go get yourself a laptop if you want more app freedom

Posted by Toleran on February 29, 2008 at 2:16 PM (CST)

19

I think apple did the right thing here. I already went to may application links and most of them are “wack”. It makes sence that apple will have a kind of gatekeeper function here with the SDK. I also trust apple that they will not to be too picky with it.

Before people complain now,m we all need to understand that apple here is just making sure that the main frame or how ever you want to call it, that this will not be damadged and then people complain backwards to apple with warrantee issues and so on.

i say let’s wait and see. ...

Posted by dennis on February 29, 2008 at 2:52 PM (CST)

20

#10 “If I want to play around with 3rd party apps, I still have several WM devices to play with.  But my iPhone is my daily driver that needs to handle calls, email, and web surfing while allowing me to share photos and video and play music.  3rd party apps will just be icing on the cake for me, but I don’t want the icing if it’s going to spoil the cake.”

I couldn’t agree more.  When I had a Handspring I eventually got some 3rd party apps and then soon deleted all but two of them.  Most of the things I tried were buggy, or I didn’t like the interface or they crashed my device.  I’d much rather the core functinos of the device be protected than just letting any Joe loose inside to foul it up.  I’ll be HIGHLY selective in which apps I get for my iPhone.  This is not a main feature.

My big disappointment is the push back to a June release.  Apple is having a very hard time meeting the deadlines it sets.  I know it’s difficult to predict, but it’s beginning to hurt my trust in Apple.

Posted by Bruce on February 29, 2008 at 3:53 PM (CST)

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