Outcry for iPhone 3rd Party Apps

apple-iphone-safari So a couple weeks before the release of the iPhone, Steve Jobs announced Apple’s 3rd party development strategy for the iPhone while giving his keynote speech at the World Wide Developers Conference. Developers groaned a collective WTF at the idea that Apple was going to restrict 3rd party developers to developing web apps, for a device connected to the Internet via a less-than-stellar wireless connection. Amidst all the groaning I remember hearing August Trometer, developer for Foggy Noggin Software and creator of the long-missed iPodder-X pod-catching software, commented on one of Ken Ray’s shows that manufacturers rarely release a Software Development Kit (SDK) for a brand-new version one product. The idea being that if a manufacturer released an SDK on a version one product than they lock themselves down before they’re ready, limiting their options for future growth. That makes sense, and then that which should have never been forgotten, was forgotten and all passed into legend.

Fast-forward to June 29th, the Jesus-phone is released, the press and the world, it would seem, goes complete crazy… and the hackers begin to quietly pound away on the device looking for ways to work around AT&T’s and Apple’s restrictions. According to a timeline published by Wired, the first 3rd party app was released within a month (Hello World!) and by mid-August, 45-days after the iPhone’s release, software was released for adding 3rd party apps to the iPhone. By mid-September ways were released for using the iPhone on cell networks other than AT&T, and the modders and hackers rejoiced because life was indeed very good.

Then on September 27th Apple released firmware update 1.1.1 Apple and all the loved turned into hate. The 3rd party app tease was so great that Apple-cheerleader, Leo Laporte, went out and bought a non-Apple Blackberry Curve cellphone. Then there’s this great rant by the Diggnation boys… (NSFW, a bit long, but very funny).

And apparently Steve heard the outcry and has announced that an SDK will be released to support native 3rd party apps on the iPhone in February ’08 (while the hackers will continue to pick away following 1.1.1… tee-hee-hee). Click the following link for a funny “commercial” and Steve Job’s memo on 3rd party apps… “Let my people go!”

First, a word from our sponsor:

Third Party Applications on the iPhone

Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers.

It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task. Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones—this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous. And since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target.

Some companies are already taking action. Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer. While this makes such a phone less than “totally open,” we believe it is a step in the right direction. We are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone’s amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs.

We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.


P.S.: The SDK will also allow developers to create applications for iPod touch.

[Oct 17, 2007]