Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Apple Reverses Position on iPhone Software

Can't wait to see the iPhone based audio and video tools that will be developed.

October 17, 2007 11:52 a.m.

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs said the company will allow software developers to make so-called native applications for the iPhone, reversing a position that had caused a flood of criticism from independent software makers.

In a letter posted on Apple's Web site Wednesday morning, Mr. Jobs said the company will release early next year a software development kit, or SDK, a necessary set of tools that will enable programmers to make iPhone applications. "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," Mr. Jobs said.

Previously, Apple had told programmers it would limit the iPhone applications they could create to those that run through the product's Web browser, a policy that precluded independent programs that could be stored locally on the iPhone, providing superior performance and features. The policy prompted some independent developers to accuse Apple of trying to exert too much control over the software that runs on the iPhone. Apple said it was restricting the kinds of iPhone software programmers could make to prevent viruses and other forms of malicious code from infecting iPhones.

Some developers found methods of creating native iPhone applications anyway. Apple, though, recently said such unauthorized software installed on iPhones could create permanent problems for the devices after user installed future software updates from Apple.

In his letter, Mr. Jobs said the iPhone software development kit will take until February because the company is "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," he continued. "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."

Mr. Jobs said the software development kit will also allow developers to create applications for the new iPod touch.

Write to Nick Wingfield at