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


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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If this comes true, the iPhone is dead for me.

Posted by Loco on February 29, 2008 at 4:18 PM (CST)


I see this move as a dammed if you do or dammed if you don’t move. As a former Palm Treo user there are thousands of available apps out there. That is what made the Palm and their user community so cool. People submitting software they created for free or for a fee with little or no interference.

But as many of us former Palm users know that while there are a lot of great developers out there who constatntly updated their software to make it safer and easier to use, there was always that small group of apps that constantly crashed Treos and forced the user do a soft reset or in extreme cases a hard reset that erased everything and forces the user to resync their device.

I am hoping that this why Apple has decided to do this in regards of vetoing apps not ready for primetime. Now if they start vetoing apps based on financial or even moral reasons they yea thats a big problem….

The Itunes thing is fine with me. Why not have a one stop marketplace where you can pickup what you need.

Posted by bearballz on February 29, 2008 at 4:36 PM (CST)


Here is the deal. The day another company makes a phone like my Iphone and let me stream media for free to it like radio and my home music collection I’m dropping Apple and AT&T like a bag of steaming $#!^.

Move maker->Watcher

No middlemen need apply

Posted by Jim on February 29, 2008 at 5:04 PM (CST)



Quote: “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!”

You would have been waiting that long for many apps anyway - they won’t magically appear overnight you know! ;-)

Depending on the quality of the beta (assuming that these rumours are true, etc.), you could still be seeing some apps in a month or two anyway.

Posted by Jonathan on February 29, 2008 at 6:32 PM (CST)


It’s a good idea for Apple to control the kinds of apps that go on the iPhone and approve them or disapprove of them. This is primarily a phone that is supposed to be working, without fail, all the time. That’s the absolute and primary use of it. It must not fail in that regard. All the other stuff is secondary and not as important. In order to insure that this remains the case (that the phone continues to work without fail), it will be always necessary for Apple to keep control over all that goes into the iPhone.

Posted by Eliakim on February 29, 2008 at 7:15 PM (CST)


@Toleran (“buggy applications”) and @ dennis (“most apps are wack”). Toleran YOU are a prick by uncritically supporting anythig that Steve “Dark Prince” Job is throwing at you. When there was discussion on locked battery on MacBook Air another stupid zealot like you (unless you work for Apple) was scolding critics “come on, don’t whine - it takes a screwdriver and 3 minutes to open the back lid…” Wonder if/when TSA will allow a screwdriver on a plane, you moron. The moral: instead of uncritically supporting Apple on their stupid moves people should demand en masse for them to wise up and be less a tyrannical, communist type (in management style) organization. I use 44 apps on my jailbroken phone, with T-mobile service (cheaper than ATT and better customer support than any company out there) and could not be happier. It is bollocks that these apps are faulty or wacky. Not true. Probably Steve’s assistants are posting this unwarranted claims. Apple should embrace the outside community (I avoid a pejorative sounding name “hacker”)
as it could only drive more handheld sales for them. And I LOL to hear jailbroken phones deprive Apple of extra profit sharing with ATT. Since when is Apple a telephone company? I thought it is a electronics manufacturer, like Nokia and others. Greed, greed, hutzpa and at the end of the day evil (how Jobs treats employees who disagree with him).  If that was MS you would call for lynching BG. Disgusting the road Apple is choosing. We need someone with the hammer… Breifely here is the problem of Apple: it has wonderful engineers and evil marketeers(like Shiller and Jobs).

Posted by sonybuff on February 29, 2008 at 7:35 PM (CST)


Sony Betamax, Memory Stick, and UMD.
Microsoft internet explorer.
Apple’s iPhone and Touch.

Great products ruined by excessive control/standardization?  I can deal with iTMS after all iPods are capable of playing MP3s. But why would they place an anchor around their best in class products at a such a critical point in their evolution? This may not be bad for consumers but as an Apple shareholder I’m not happy.  Sony, Nokia, and RIM can now exhale and close the gap that Apple was widening.  How quickly can Apple forgot how the door opened for them and the iPod?

Posted by DrLotto in USA on February 29, 2008 at 8:52 PM (CST)


I really have to agree with those who think this is a good idea by apple. I know a lot of you guys (and gals) are pretty upset by this anouncment, but as an average iphone user, and I think the majority of iphone user would agree, I feel a lot safer adding apps if I knew they were approved and distrubuted by someone I could trust. I understand that some of you power users feel very comfortable jailbreaking your iphone and adding all kinds of apps (most of which I thnk are just worthless), but there are a lot of out there that don’t feel comfortable going that far with our iphone. I for one, look forward to being able to go to itunes and downloading approved apps that I know I will use and enjoy. Say what you will about the iPhone but I think it’s still the most advanced, easy to use, stylish cell phone out there. And sonybuff, how much do you want for your iPhone? You obvioulsy want to go back to MicroShaft, so lets work out a deal. I know someone who would love to have one, and she won’t bitch and whine about about being ruled by a “communist tyrannt”. lol.

Posted by john_kc on February 29, 2008 at 9:19 PM (CST)


First of all, I am not whining, I just stretch the point so even half in jest the truth about Apple’s current direction can hit home. Why should I want to sell my iPhone? I love it, and can only tell you the apps are worthless NOT. I have a superb guitar tuner, at par with Korg electronic device. I can preview pdf documents (e.g. Price Lists) and can send them ad lib to clients. Now this has become a smart little computer that allows me to be more productive than on my recently stolen Pearl. Vonage, whose service I love, has an app that allows, by merely pressing a button, to log into their voice mail. Also with their added simulring feature calls to my land line are directed to iPhone for better productivity. Voice notes, To do list, eBooks, Voice dial, a gnu based chess play (a list goes on and on). That’s right you just “think” these apps are worthless, but they ain’t. Apple should embrace and reward those GREAT programmers by allowing them to sell via iTunes which unfortunately will NOT happen under the ‘tyrannical’ rule of Jobs and Shiller. Where is the hammer?

Posted by sonybuff on March 1, 2008 at 2:36 AM (CST)


I don’t mind apple controlling which apps to distribute, but cmon using itunes as a way to distribute it, that means only countries with itunes stores can get it, how narrow minded that is. Why can they just use the apple website instead and put it in the download sections. This show how apple has done little to give support to its products globally,  ( I am already disappointed as it is when they announced the $ 20 apps for ipodtouch is only available for countries with itunes stores, can’t they just open up more stores in more countries)

Posted by William on March 1, 2008 at 10:08 AM (CST)


Give Apple the benefit of the doubt. As a mobile developer who is not a Apple fan, I have to say most mobile platforms are severely restricted one way or another. Since Mobile Safari has been more developer-friendly than most other mobile browsers, I hope iPhone SDK will also break new ground in opening up a mobile platform that is already commercially viable.

Posted by Matthew on March 1, 2008 at 4:58 PM (CST)


Hey while we are at it lets just let Microsoft and Apple tell us what software we can and cant have on our PC’s and Mac’s. This is complete communism. Apple should have no say in what I can and cant do.

Posted by johnvon on March 1, 2008 at 11:35 PM (CST)


To say that “Apple always does this” is absolutely false (but there are journalists that somehow have the idea that Mac OS is a closed system and apple approves everything).

The problem I see is that a lot of ideas will not get pursued if Apple is exercising editorial judgement on what gets approved. Software development is an enormous undertaking in time, especially on a new device.

Now if the standards are technical: security, power & memory practices, etc. it could be reasonable. (Editorial control would come in what gets PROMOTED in the iTS.).


I say this being a software developer myself, looking at mobile platforms. And wondering if Apple will wind up getting me excited about the opportunity—and then send my enthusiasm to another platform

This sort of approach might have doomed the mac—PageMaker and Photoshop would have got approved, but would they have been attempted in the first place? It won’t doom the iphone… but it could easily stunt it… leaving it eventually a niche platform, the whole mac v. pc thing all over again.

The thing is, unlike the mac v. pc thing, the is no entrenched dominant platform (the real success of windows is that it was built on top of the DOS franchise—Apple always had an uphill battle.)

Somewhere the “Windows” (as in ubiquity and share) of handheld mobile networked devices will emerge. I’m now skeptical that Apple will occupy that space.

And of course, attracting developers to the iphone/touch attracts them to Apple frameworks and tools and helps the mac.

My gut tells me that Apple is going to blow this and miss its opportunity to leverage its ipod franchise into something that could actually displace MS in the new mobile world.

Posted by yet another steve on March 2, 2008 at 8:09 AM (CST)


I think this is dreadful for the value of the stock unless at the event they announce something like Adobe flash and Stereo BT support. To wait till June for applications that are limited and essentially crippled for no good reason… will not only piss off Apple iPhone users, giving a leg up to Android but drive the stock down into the toilet. This is such a no brainer, by all means have Apple certify for sale applications as being safe but why limit any option? Why not have 2007 iPhone be able to have a hardware + software GPS or keyboard?
Given the outright lie from Apple that an iPhone without a Sim card will not act as an iPod is bad enough but to go out of their way to cripple what would be the most exciting 3rd party community in history is dumbfounding.
I think Jobs is losing his touch.  I own an iTouch and an iPhone but if Google or Nokia come out with a fully open platform and cool hardware, my next iPhone might not come from Apple. Shame, a real shame and there is no excuse. To check software is one thing but to kill innovation is another.

Posted by PeterN on March 2, 2008 at 4:25 PM (CST)


Dyvim, your logic seems a little off. If I understand youcorrectly, the fact that the widespread availability of plugins and applications for Windows Mobile led to you installing some unstable apps and, thus, abandoning your WM phone for Apple’s phone. Surely you could just reset your WM phone to the factory firmware and *not* install the unstable apps. It’s not like anyone’s forcing you to install them? In that case, by not installing unstable apps, you are about where the iphone is: unable to install anything without hacking.

Posted by qazwsxcd1323 on March 2, 2008 at 6:41 PM (CST)


Well this makes absolutly no sense to me. Isn’t Apple making SDK so they won’t have to compete with hackers and people jailbreaking their iPhones/Ipod Touches?

If they are, then why would they put so many restrictions in. If, in fact, they applications do limit the use of the product, isn’t that basically going to encourage people to jailbreak their phone or ipod?

I don’t understand the whole thing about the accesories, but it sounds to me like their basically going to make them useless and the product less useful.

I agree with bruce. If it’s going to limit it more, than I don’t want it.

Posted by Brian on March 2, 2008 at 6:44 PM (CST)


None of this bothers me except for the iTunes Store requirement for non-free applications.  We don’t have access to an iTunes Store here in Hong Kong.  So if true, I would not be able to use any applications which require payment.  Pretty lame.

And before you say “But the iPhone is not available in Hong Kong yet”, let me point out that the iPod Touch is - and that is what I want to buy.

But I will still be waiting until this happens in June or later, as I do not want to have to pay another US$20 or so to upgrade the iTouch to use the SDK.  :)

Posted by Edward Spodick on March 2, 2008 at 8:19 PM (CST)


Another problem no one has mentioned: What if a corporation wants to put an internal PRORPRIETARY app on their iphones? Not for public distribution at all.

Answer: they’ll be doing it on another platform. Distribute through iTunes… hell they don’t want it “distributed” at all.

I think it is going to be painful to see such wonderful devices unable to reach their full potential.

On the conference call Tim Cook talked about how Apple knew the platform business. Well they should. And this doesn’t sound like a platform at all.

Which means that some other “good enough” (but not as good) platform will come to dominate this space.

Apple’s most successful business right now, both its biggest and its fastest growing is the most universal computing platform on the planet.

Obviously this is still only rumor, but I think I’m going to be seriously disappointed this week…. and changing my technological and development plans. I may use it as a phone, but it looks unattractive as a target platform.

I think Apple will be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. And I’m pretty much a fanboy.

Posted by yet another steve on March 3, 2008 at 4:14 AM (CST)


@35: True, I could just not install 3rd party apps on WM, but that brings up the point that (1) all the WM built-in apps frankly suck so the device isn’t worth much to me as is, and (2) vendors often ship WM phone devices with a lot of crap bloatware installed too.  Sure, I can uninstall it (in most cases although sometimes its in ROM), but why should I have to?

I love the iPhone because for me it’s a great device straight out of the box as is, which is something I’ve never been able to say about any of the Windows CE or Windows Mobile devices that I’ve developed for over the past 9 years.

Oh and the user interface is loads better as is the mobile browser.  Case closed for me.

Posted by Dyvim on March 3, 2008 at 11:36 AM (CST)


Been there done that, with Danger.  At least when the same people headed over to Google and started Android, they made being open one of their precepts.

Posted by Been there done that on March 4, 2008 at 1:14 AM (CST)

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