Breath of Fresh Air: Apple iPhone SDK for Feb. 2008

Great news from Apple and a welcome breath of fresh air. A software development kit (SDK) will be released for native applications for iPhone. Until now Apple has been taking a very unApple approach to software development for iPhone. They locked it down and suggested that everyone develop web2.0 applications formatted for iPhone’s version of Safari (web browser). This strategy hasn’t been going over very well. To add insult to injury the closed environment was causing even more trouble because it was discovered very quickly that the iPhone could be cracked and applications developed. Rouge hackers (a.k.a: inspired creative free thinking innovators) were knocking out cools iphone aps that other people with hacked iPhones could run.

If you’ve been following current iPhone events none of that is news to you, just a recap. The important part of the recent news is that an SDK means opportunities are opening up for innovative mobile solutions on iPhone.

To users this means the iPhone just got better because after February 2008 you’ll be able to download applications that run on iPhone. Your iPhone will become that much more useful.

To business this means you just got access to the hottest new mobile platform. If you have a web enabled service you want to mobilize now is the time to learn how to create Apple Desktop Widgets and web2.0 applications. It wouldn’t hurt for your developers to begin getting familar with the existing OSX SDK.Even if they’ve never developed for OSX I think you’ll see them pick it up fast. It is all standards based open stuff. Should be very familiar to them.

Why am I convinced this is the right strategy? Simple. iPhone has (by far) the best mobile user experience. Happy users mean user adoption. User adoption in large numbers means money and that everyone else will follow, maybe even Microsoft. Although you can bet that Microsoft will come up with their own variation on the theme, there is a good chance the’ll take the same technical approach and that if you build your aps right (3-tier and all that) you may have little work to port your ap to iPhone and a future Windows Mobile.

Which means, follow the iPhone crowd. Be smart about your architecture and chances are you’ll beat your competition to this new mobile market.

Here is the Apple post from

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]