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iPhone SDK (software development kit) announced

8894 Views 19 Replies Latest reply: Oct 18, 2007 3:01 PM by Earless Puppy RSS
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Michael Lafferty Level 6 Level 6 (16,080 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Oct 18, 2007 7:35 AM
As noted in a previous thread, in which almost no one has commented,* Apple yesterday announced the availability in February 2008 of a software development kit for iPhone developers.

A note from Steve Jobs was posted to Apple's Hot News site, which reads:

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.

Steve


This means that registered developers will be able to—within guidelines established by Apple—create iPhone specific applications which can then be installed on individual iPhone and iPod touch devices. This development addresses the long held desire by users that their favorite business tools, such as Microsoft Office an Epocrates for medical professionals—not currently available for installation—may ultimately be ported to the iPhone.

Watch for announcements of iPhone and iPod touch support from major developers and from small application niche-specific developers in the coming months!

*The fact that there has been so little discussion of this announcement greatly surprises me, as a huge number of pre-release iPhone forum messages concerned the lack of support for third-party applications, and many users still post queries about when or if such options will be made available.

Edited to include this note: This matter, along with an unrelated but interesting twist to the reported availability of an iPhone in France is also now being discussed here.

Edited once again to note that an additional related thread has popped up.
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  • sneirbo2k7 Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)
    EXCELLENT News! I'm hopeful the first things available will be mobile APPLE Apps - Pages, Numbers, Keynote and some form of mobile Quicken!
    iMac Intel, Mac OS X (10.4.10), 8Gb iPhone
  • Sanford Sardo1 Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 18, 2007 7:30 AM (in response to sneirbo2k7)
    I'm hoping for a 3rd party speakerphone booster.
    TiBook, AlBook 15; MacBook, iPhone, Mac OS X (10.4.10)
  • MobileDev Level 3 Level 3 (565 points)
    Big questions remain. How much will it cost? Who will be allowed in the program? Will free software still be unavailable? Will you have to give source code to Apple? Will distribution have to be through them? In other words, will it be a open model or something more like BREW?

    I think it's great news for iPhone users who'd love to see some particular apps come in. As you mentioned, medical software will probably be a big category.

    Not so sure about other categories. Think we'd see mobile TV/radio or Skype get approved? Slingbox? Will there be censorship... categories that are disallowed, and/or will apps have to get an Apple seal of okayship?
    Touchscreen laptop and industrial handhelds, Other OS
  • Jane Knox Level 3 Level 3 (690 points)
    I would be happy with existing technologies that were (intentionally?) left off the iPhone:

    iChat
    Rotate the keyboard in Mail and Test messaging like it does in Safari
    Take a picture and send it to picture enabled cell phones
    Cut and Paste.

    C'mon Apple. There is NO new technology in any of those items. All you need to do is turn them on.

    (jk-II)
    MacBook Pro - MacBook - PowerBook TiG4, Mac OS X (10.4.10), AEBS 802.11(n)
  • Bobbbo Level 3 Level 3 (530 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 18, 2007 10:22 AM (in response to MobileDev)
    I think you hit on the right question. Applications on the phone that are applied without controls can cause big Cell System problems. Apple has to figure a way to control what the software can and cannot do. If the software can get into the phone call process it can easily take down parts of the cell system. BREW applications are under control by Qualcomm for that very reason. I would expect that the applications will be restricted to be stand alone and have no ability to control the call processing. This would be like a calendar that you can sync up with your desk top through USB, but not by way of the cell phone network.

    Certainly Apple will try to sell some of the Applications, but once the SDK is out I am certain you will be able to by most directly from the developers.
    Mac Pro 2.66 GHz, Mac OS X (10.4.10), 250GB, 500GB, 500GB HD's; 3GB RAM
  • egojab Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 18, 2007 10:41 AM (in response to Bobbbo)
    If the software can get into the phone call process it can easily take down parts of the cell system


    you bought into that hype huh? This is simply FUD and not true. I wish people would stop saying it like it is.

    Certainly Apple will try to sell some of the Applications, but once the SDK is out I am certain you will be able to by most directly from the developers.


    I would actually be willing to bet that it's an iTunes based distribution model. I can only hope it's a bet I lose.
  • Cander Level 3 Level 3 (850 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 18, 2007 10:55 AM (in response to Jane Knox)
    "C'mon Apple. There is NO new technology in any of those items. All you need to do is turn them on."

    Right. Because we all know programming new features is a simple flip of a switch.

    Well I guess it is. Just a whole bunch of switches ala binary.
    Windows XP
  • Bobbbo Level 3 Level 3 (530 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 18, 2007 10:55 AM (in response to egojab)
    I do know what I am talking about. Back in the early days of GSM in Europe a manufacturer of cell phones had a software bug that took down the system. If someone wrote software to randomly make calls to anywhere all the time, is that not an issue? I think you need to read Apples announcement again as they also state the issue of application problems.
    Mac Pro 2.66 GHz, Mac OS X (10.4.10), 250GB, 500GB, 500GB HD's; 3GB RAM
  • R C-R Level 6 Level 6 (13,845 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 18, 2007 11:12 AM (in response to egojab)
    you bought into that hype huh? This is simply FUD and not true. I wish people would stop saying it like it is.


    I wish you would substantiate this with something more than repetition, but we can't always get what we want, can we?
    iMac G5/2.0 GHz 17" ALS (Rev B), Mac OS X (10.4.10), 1.5 GB, Kensington Trackball
  • MobileDev Level 3 Level 3 (565 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 18, 2007 12:07 PM (in response to Bobbbo)
    Applications on the phone that are applied without controls can cause big Cell System problems.


    Got an example of how this might be done, via an iPhone, in the current cell system?
    Touchscreen laptop and industrial handhelds, Other OS
  • MobileDev Level 3 Level 3 (565 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 18, 2007 12:13 PM (in response to Bobbbo)
    If someone wrote software to randomly make calls to anywhere all the time, is that not an issue?


    Not to the carrier. That's what phones do.

    If it suddenly started calling Kenya, then as many of us have experienced in the past, a red flag goes up because of a change in calling habits, and the phone is denied service and/or the owner is notified.

    There are also protections in place for denial of service attacks due to SMS, network pings, etc. I helped put in one of them.
    Touchscreen laptop and industrial handhelds, Other OS
  • Bobbbo Level 3 Level 3 (530 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 18, 2007 12:31 PM (in response to MobileDev)
    So if people do not believe there is an issue, take your example. Let say someone wrote software to call Kenya every 10 minutes and that software is sent out to every iPhone. So you now have over a million customers calling Kenya, the operator shuts them down. The Carrier just lost a million customers and there are a million users that cannot make any phone calls.

    I am in the cell phone business and have been involved with the issues that Apple talks about in their announcement that started this post. Each cell phone has to go through extensive testing before it is approved to go on the air. A cell phone can wreak havoc on a cell system. If your cell phone starts transmitting garbage on a channel, that channel can be disabled at that cell site. If you have millions phones doing the same the whole system can go down.

    If 3rd party applications can get into operations of the phone call making and receiving process that can be a concern for the carrier. So Apple has to make sure the new software does not do anything to hurt the Carrier's system or hurt the customer. Certainly a large majority of these new applications will not be malicious, but it only takes one to create a disastrous situation, as that software can migrate or be installed in millions of phones.
    Mac Pro 2.66 GHz, Mac OS X (10.4.10), 250GB, 500GB, 500GB HD's; 3GB RAM
  • ITpro4Mac Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
    Michael Lafferty wrote:
    As noted in a previous thread, in which almost no one has commented,* Apple yesterday announced the availability in February 2008 of a software development kit for iPhone developers.


    The "previous thread", how about the previous dozens of threads...with hundreds of comments? If most of them no longer exist, then they have been removed by Apple as violations of the *Technical support*/discussions TOS. Where have you been?

    I'm sick to death with all the threads on this issue, and the comments from all of the self appointed experts. Sicker still of those who think they somehow "pressured" Apple into doing what they were planning on doing all along anyway.

    As many of us have said from the start, Apple had to get OS 10.5 Leopard completed before they could commit a substantial portion of the brain trust to development of an iPhone/iPod Touch SDK or Apple designed resident iPhone/iPod applications. Many seem to have forgotten that Apple delayed the release of Leopard because they had to redirect software designers to the iPhone project to get it released on time. With Leopard complete, they can once again devote software design resources to the iPhone/iPod.

    Apple announced the Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Gold Master version on 10/12/2007. "Gold Master" status is given the final shipping version of the software which is sent to duplicators for distribution. They officially announced the 10/26/2007 release date for Leopard on 10/16/2007. Why then should it be surprising that on 10/17/2007, Steve Jobs posted an open letter revealing that Apple will be releasing a 3rd party Software Development Kit (SDK) for iPhone and iPod Touch applications in February of 2008?

    As Jobs said, and as many of us have been basically stating in these discussions for months, +"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."+

    Let it rest, stop the speculation, the discussion, and the obsession with what "might be coming." Just let it be and wait patiently.
    400 Mhz G3 iMac, 1.25Ghz G4 eMac, 17" G4 1Ghz iMac, Dual 2.7Ghz G5 PowerMac,, Mac OS X (10.4.10), 2.33Ghz 15" MacBook Pro, Homebuilt PC Clone, 3 iPhones, 4 iPods, 2-Airports
  • MobileDev Level 3 Level 3 (565 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 18, 2007 1:16 PM (in response to Bobbbo)
    Agreed, that's why, in a properly designed phone, application software cannot directly control the radio.

    None of this handwaving has anything to do with why we don't have third party applications already, or who the new cert program will really target. Bear in mind what certificates are for: as a way to trace the origin of a program.

    What would've been the security threat of software from Adobe, Slingbox, Skype, medical companies, or a hundred other well known firms? Answer: none.

    So the security worry must be mainly because of the potential of users downloading free, but malicioius, applications written by unknown artists. Okay, I can go with that. (Hasn't been a problem with phones before, but apparently people fear the iPhone is going to start a new phone virus flood.)

    One downside is, if a certificate costs, and it must, there will be a lot of freelance apps that will never happen.

    A medium model that's often used on WM phones is this: if an app isn't signed, you are warned. Then it's up to you to let it run or not. Also, activeX are not downloaded over the web at all.
    Touchscreen laptop and industrial handhelds, Other OS
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