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iPhone SDK details
March 7, 2008 12:39 AM   Subscribe

Extensible applications such as Firefox appear to be banned by Apple's iPhone SDK license agreement: No interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Published APIs and builtin interpreter(s)… An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise. An Application may write data on a device only to the Application's designated container area, except as otherwise specified by Apple. Applications may only use Published APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any unpublished or private APIs.
posted by finite (142 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
puke.
posted by Addiction at 12:43 AM on March 7, 2008


Dear Apple,
No.

Love,
The Rest of the World
posted by 1adam12 at 12:48 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't like what Apple is becoming.*

*Has already become?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:54 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seems reasonable and wholly within Apples usual modus operendii.

I'm quite pleased by this. It means any applications I download aren't going to screw my iPhone up royally.
And FYI, I'm not usually a fan of Apples behaviour.
posted by seanyboy at 1:01 AM on March 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


Bzzzt! You people get on the Apple hate-wagon way too easily.

The ban here is on downloading and executing or interpreting code. What they don't want you to do is create an app that's a back-door installer for unofficial applications.
posted by floam at 1:04 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is anyone surprised by this? Why go through all the trouble to make sure all apps have to be installed through the iTunes-like app store only to let devs install whatever the hell they like (including potentially malicious code) as a plugin?
posted by sveskemus at 1:04 AM on March 7, 2008


On non-preview, what seanyboy and floam said.
posted by sveskemus at 1:04 AM on March 7, 2008


Also ...
1) The interpreted code rule doesn't ban the use of Javascript.

2) An Application may write data on a device only to the Application's designated container area, except as otherwise specified by Apple. This is just common sense, and as a rule, it doesn't stop access to other applications. It just states that if you're gonna link in to iTunes, you can only do it through known APIs. There's a million programming books out there that heavily advocate for limited modular access between programmatic components, and this reinforces that. IT'S A GOOD THING.
posted by seanyboy at 1:08 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Iphone users peons get screwed over by Apple and the only people that care are the demographic (the nerds) that Apple doesn't want to associate the iphone with in the first place.

Sounds like a win-win for Apple to me.
posted by uandt at 1:09 AM on March 7, 2008


uandt: How are they getting screwed over? Did you even read anything or did you just jump at an opportunity to hate on Apple?
posted by floam at 1:11 AM on March 7, 2008


Sorry, meant screwed by AT&T. No particular Apple hater here but the carrier lock in is annoying. My point is that the people that really seems to care are the people that would jailbreak their phones anyway.
posted by uandt at 1:23 AM on March 7, 2008


there's a lot more information and commentary out there than the two blogs you've linked to:MacDaddy admits right off the top that he hasn't even touched the SDK yet, and obviously one of the Mozilla developers will post something incendiary about the fact that the extension framework isn't supported for whatever reason (for the time being, I'd bet.) in an attempt to drum up controversy and/or support.

Andy Ihnatko raised an interesting point:
Note how carefully this event is being orchestrated. Apple has carefully lined up a series of white porcelain plates at the far and of a shooting gallery. Each one is labeled with a known percentage of the marketplace that “can’t” buy an iPhone for specific technical reasons. Annnd…plink! plink! plink!…they’re knocking them all down.

Final demo goes to Sega, bringing monkey-based gaming to the iPhone.

Monkeys are like bacon. They improve just about anything.
This seems like a lot of handwringing; there are too many unknowns to be posting flaming screeds about banned languages and programs just yet.
posted by heeeraldo at 1:24 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


You people get on the Apple hate-wagon way too easily.

I can only conclude that you are into bondage.
posted by srboisvert at 1:29 AM on March 7, 2008


Forget Monkeyball. Those wily devs at Maxis are going to port Spore. Spore!

It should be interesting to see how they'll interpret the various editors in the context of a multitouch interface.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:33 AM on March 7, 2008


Lame. The excuses of apologists are lamer though.

My point is that the people that really seems to care are the people that would jailbreak their phones anyway.

I think many of the people who had jailbroken their phone were looking forward to a time when they could accomplish much of the same through supported channels.
posted by grouse at 1:33 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


flapjax at midnite:
I don't like what Apple is becoming.*
*Has already become?
Always was but the shiny bits blind you... (me too.)
posted by gen at 2:18 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lame. The excuses of apologists are lamer though.
Lame. The frothing ranting of the "We hate Apple" crowd are even lamer than that.
posted by seanyboy at 2:25 AM on March 7, 2008


"You're an idiot!" "No, you're idioter!"
posted by benzo8 at 2:40 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


[Quote:]
What we saw today was the beginning of two-decades of mobile domination by Apple. What Microsoft and Windows was to the desktop, Apple and Touch will be to mobile.
Which is probably true - but I'll still sim-unlock and jailbreak my phone. I view it as a computer, and like any other computer I own, I get to decide what software runs on it, and what networks it connects to. What I've seen from the SDK is very, very nice and beautiful, and Apple will be very succesfull with it. Good for them. But there will always people like me, and the eco-system will be richer because of it. Don't let the Apple announcements make you think otherwise.
posted by DreamerFi at 2:45 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The reason the excuses for Apple are lame are because the only reason this is essential is to (a) ensure that there is no way to escape their revenue share, and (b) to freeze out competitors such as Flash. If the iPhone acquires enough marketshare, it might even be illegal to continue this policy. Justifying it in terms of improved user experience is disingenuous of Apple and naive of others. There are no guarantees that the vetted apps will work perfectly, and Apple could make it very clear that you install the unvetted apps at your own risk without support. But without the risk of bricking your iPhone either.

And gen, Apple was not always like this. Their first computers were made for hacking. They didn't even come fully assembled. They provide high-quality development tools for Mac OS X for free, which is an improvement from some of the repressive days in the intervening years.

These kinds of restrictions are very un-Woz.
posted by grouse at 2:49 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Congratulations, this is the shittiest anti-Apple post that has been permitted to remain on the site in Metafilter's history.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:52 AM on March 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


Surely the Maddox iPhone post is worse, BP?
posted by grouse at 2:55 AM on March 7, 2008


Surely the Maddox iPhone post is worse, BP?

At least I was able to work in a little joke about Maddox phoning in his performance. There's nothing to work with here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:58 AM on March 7, 2008


Before this thread is shut down under the double weight of (f)lamers, I wanted to note something curious and perhaps disappointing about the SDK. Apparently, iPhone applications are only allowed to run one at a time and never in the background. Whenever a user leaves an application to answer the phone or to open a new application, the last application has to quit.

While this will likely go some way to making sure iPhones are stable, it seems to me some of the more interesting uses of iPhone are prevented by this limitation. For example, jailbreakers have successfully installed and run Apache on the iPhone. Apache really only makes sense as an always-on background application. Not that the iPhone would make the fastest or best web server, but the ability to deploy a web server (or a server of any type) that was truly mobile (and small enough to conceal) would profoundly affect aspects of Internet computing.

I understand jailbreaking will never end, but if one wants the support of official APIs using an iPhone as a server will require the dedication of an iPhone to that service. This seems, to me, a serious lack of foresight on Apple's part. The iPhone represents, to my mind, the way forward for ubiquitous mobile computing, but Apple doesn't want the iPhone to take on this role.

I guess the jailbreakers will have to show Apple the way.
posted by mistersquid at 3:00 AM on March 7, 2008


Blazecock Pileon: Congratulations, this is the shittiest anti-Apple post that has been permitted to remain on the site in Metafilter's history.

Um, permitted to remain? I'm pretty sure all the mods are sleeping. (I'd love to be proven wrong, though. Jess? cortex? Matt?)

I would love a mod in my time zone but I guess I've already made that clear in MeTa a couple of times.
posted by sveskemus at 3:10 AM on March 7, 2008


Whenever a user leaves an application to answer the phone or to open a new application, the last application has to quit.

Having lots of apps running in the background kills the battery life.

Some apps do run in the background, such as the iPod music playback feature, and the battery life goes down accordingly.

If people could run lots of utilities in the background, one could imagine the perception would develop that the phone battery is "broken" in some way, despite that not really being the case.

I guess the jailbreakers will have to show Apple the way.

The jailbreakers can only show what will generate shareholder value, as running Apache in the background (let alone killing a source of revenue sharing for Apple by jail-breaking the phones) doesn't seem likely to make shareholders much money.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:12 AM on March 7, 2008


(And I just flagged my own comment as offensive to increase the odds of a mod noticing it by a fragment of a percent.)
posted by sveskemus at 3:12 AM on March 7, 2008


They're only 'banning' those things for apps distributed through them. All those things, as described before misleading quoting, are in fact dangerous for a variety of reasons.

You'll still be able to build and install whatever the fuck you want on your own iPhone. You could distribute the source or possibly binaries to others to do the same.

And given that you don't have to give your source to Apple for distribution (I was betting you'd have to), there's really nothing they can do about it as long as you stay in the sandbox! There is absolutely NOTHING stopping you from using Lua or Nu embedded in your application and then distributing it via Apple. They could try to detect it, but they won't bother, and you'd be able to get around it anyway.
posted by blasdelf at 3:17 AM on March 7, 2008


I wanted to note something curious and perhaps disappointing about the SDK. Apparently, iPhone applications are only allowed to run one at a time and never in the background.

But all the built-in applications do exactly the same thing. It's not a special limitation of the SDK.

And it's a quote from the UI guidelines - it's entirely possible (though unlikely, I suppose) that apps will be able to launch non-UI background processes that don't quit.
posted by cillit bang at 3:19 AM on March 7, 2008


And at a %30 distribution cut, Apple isn't going to be making much money off of this for quite a while, as with iTMS (same percentage, actually). Even when it's in the black, they'll still be making massively more money off of the hardware margin and the AT&T kickbacks.
posted by blasdelf at 3:20 AM on March 7, 2008


Apple: Freedom zero to zero freedom.

They built a cool little portable computer phone full of great promise and turned into a phone. Apple has gone down this road before and it didn't go so well the last time.

Somebody will come out with a wide open apple phone clone and apple with be crushed.
posted by srboisvert at 3:21 AM on March 7, 2008


FTR, I think the HIG for the iPhone and the limitations of the SDK are the products of a complex process designed to maximize benefit for many.

As to Blazecock's repetition of the phrase "shareholder value," much of what is valuable in computing doesn't fit neatly within the investment models provided by publicly-owned companies. I'm not saying that Apple must allow any and all comers to do whatever they want, but I do believe that value should not always be calculated in terms of increasing the bottom line. Apple is free to disagree, I understand.
posted by mistersquid at 3:35 AM on March 7, 2008


srboisvert: Somebody will come out with a wide open apple phone clone and apple with be crushed

Want to bet? How soon do you see this happening?
posted by sveskemus at 3:36 AM on March 7, 2008


They'll need to be careful just how much of a clone they shoot for...
posted by benzo8 at 3:38 AM on March 7, 2008


I'm not saying that Apple must allow any and all comers to do whatever they want, but I do believe that value should not always be calculated in terms of increasing the bottom line.

I'm not arguing for it, only remarking on the irony of people who hurt Apple's bottom line seeing themselves as entitled to instruct Apple how to run its business.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:39 AM on March 7, 2008


Imagine a software free-for-all where every website you visit tries to sneak an application onto your phone. No thanks. The freetards can cry all they like but what they would end up with is akin to how free and unusable Linux is with more applications than users.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:39 AM on March 7, 2008


Somebody will come out with a wide open apple phone clone and apple with be crushed.
Well that's what happened to the iPod.
And hey - It'd be cool if they allowed me to override the programming on my television.

One day the hackers and the jailbreakers are going to work out that most consumer devices are aimed at consumers. OK, some consumer devices need the techno-mavens to take the device up initially and in this situation, (chumby anyone) the organisation involved is going to open up the device to hackers.

Most of the time though, and especially in established consumer areas like Mobile Phones, there's no need to pander to the whims of a tiny percentage of people who'll tire of the device in six months or so.
posted by seanyboy at 3:41 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


They'll need to be careful just how much of a clone they shoot for...

The clone's booth was shut down for using an unlicensed codec, not for infringing on the iPhone interface. Clearly people can't even bother to read these blogs correctly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:42 AM on March 7, 2008


Nope, admittedly I didn't see that update when I flicked back to find the link, having read the post days ago. Still, nice to see you're being eponysterically in-your-face about pointing that out. Thanks.
posted by benzo8 at 3:45 AM on March 7, 2008


Somebody will come out with a wide open apple phone clone and apple with be crushed.

Doubful. RIM will keep considerable marketshare for a while. Android will get some by more or less being the next Symbian. OpenMOKO will continue to go pretty much nowhere. Windows Mobile will lose even more marketshare. Apple will win the rest, for a long, long time.
posted by blasdelf at 3:48 AM on March 7, 2008


irony of people who hurt Apple's bottom line seeing themselves as entitled to instruct Apple how to run its business.

I'm guessing you're interpret my suggestions as issuing from a sense of entitlement (though I may be guessing wrong). I don't feel any sense of entitlement outside the freedom to express my opinion as a dedicated user of Apple technology.

In any case, people make suggestions for companies that may hurt its bottom line from both inside and outside a company. Sometimes, however, what is perceived as hurting a company's bottom line (providing high-quality tech support for one example) in fact helps the company as a whole.

I do think you, Blazecock, may be a bit bit short-sighted about the ways in which a for-profit corporation may benefit from non-revenue generating activity, let alone revenue-diminishing activity. I personally don't think it would be good if power-hungry applications destroyed the iPhone's battery life, but I don't think this risk is reason enough to disallow background applications and applications running simultaneously.

And, yes, this is my opinion.
posted by mistersquid at 3:50 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Apple has gone down this road before and it didn't go so well the last time.

Somebody will come out with a wide open apple phone clone and apple with be crushed."


Do you really think so? Apple these days seems far more responsive to customer demands these days. In fact it seems as recently as October, Apple was still insisting that third party applications would be web based only.

So they've flip flopped to some extent.

Of course I'm willing to consider that maybe it all was a ploy to keep folks talking about Apple - they may have had plans to offer native app support to third party developers all along. Who knows?
posted by Mutant at 3:52 AM on March 7, 2008


most consumer devices are aimed at consumers

No, most geeky devices were initially developed by enthusiasts or scientists (a form of enthusiast). Companies then turn said device into consumer product, but the important thing is that they want you to consume it in a very specific way. Often times because they've got a competing device or service that does the same thing that they're trying to sell you additionally.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:39 AM on March 7, 2008


Somebody will come out with a wide open apple phone clone and apple with be crushed.
Well that's what happened to the iPod.


Apple doesn't tell you what music you can play on your iPod.
posted by srboisvert at 5:04 AM on March 7, 2008


I'm pretty sure all the mods are sleeping.

I'm awake. I could see a better post about this, but this is okay. Anyone needs to get their superduper Apple-user hate on, please go to MetaTalk.
posted by jessamyn at 5:14 AM on March 7, 2008


I love my JesusPhone. I love Apple for making it.

If they want to sweeten up my phone for me even more by allowing all the goodness that the SDK will bring to it - on their terms - I'm fine with that.

Some of you sound like you're from the 'entitlement generation'. Sheesh.
posted by matty at 5:17 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


To me, the iPhone and its SDK is like being married to a rich, beautiful, successful person who doesn't let you get a job of your own. The only time you can go out of the house is when you go to one particular restaurant, and the only people you can meet at that restaurant are people your spouse approves of. This is a way of life that appeals to many people, I suppose, but it sure as hell isn't for me.
posted by the dief at 5:20 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


No consumer apparel may be loaded and laundered in your Sears Kenmore Super Capacity washer except for apparel that is manufactured and sold through Sear's Published Catalogs and retail outlet(s)…
posted by quonsar at 5:21 AM on March 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


posted by jessamyn at 8:14 AM

What. the. hell?! Is this a sign that Matt's doing a redesign?!

Anyway, I'm still gonna get an iPhone. It's just a question of whether to do it now or see if they introduce a newer model in June. Seriously, what's the issue here? I understand that I'm supposed to be upset by all of this, but why? Gimmee context.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:29 AM on March 7, 2008


I don't like what Apple is becoming.*

Becoming? They're always been this way. Well, since the Mac anyway. Ironically the Apple II was all about open hardware, but since then it's pretty much been "Take what we give you" They were the first company to release a successful DRM platform (FairPlay for the iPod/iTunes)
posted by delmoi at 5:43 AM on March 7, 2008


Apple doesn't tell you what music you can play on your iPod.

Yes they do, specifically, you can't play music someone else bought on iTunes without a ton of work. You can't transfer music from iPod to iPod, for no reason beyond placating the RIAA, etc.
posted by delmoi at 5:45 AM on March 7, 2008


Imagine a software free-for-all where every website you visit tries to sneak an application onto your phone. No thanks.

Ex. Fucking. Actly.

Imagine your phone acting like your average web browser. Why did it crash? Why did it just redirect my call to my local pizza shop to Dominoes? Why is this fucking ad running and sucking the juice out of my battery. WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE TO MY ADDRESS BOOK. What do you mean I just uploaded my contact list to Google? WHY IS THAT FUCKING ICON STILL BLINKING. NO I DON'T WANT TO PUNCH THE MONKEY, I WANT TO CALL MOM. MOM. CALL MY FUCKING MOM, YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!!!!

Sorry, a system error has occurred.


No, thank you. I expect phones to work. I know how developers work. I do not want applications autoloading .7 versions of plugins. I want my phone to work. If Apple wants to vet the applications, I'm actually all for it -- maybe I'll actually get a smart phone, then, but the important thing is that my phone actually call who I ask, when I ask it too, and ring when those who are trying to call me (and only me) do so.

Anything that messes with this is broken.
posted by eriko at 5:47 AM on March 7, 2008 [14 favorites]


Congratulations, this is the shittiest anti-Apple post that has been permitted to remain on the site in Metafilter's history.

Apple users need to get over themselves. Seriously.
posted by delmoi at 5:49 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Apple users need to get over themselves. Seriously.

Steve said we don't have to, so nah nah.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:52 AM on March 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


I want my phone to work. If Apple wants to vet the applications, I'm actually all for it

Sure, that's great. But wouldn't it be better if you could choose to install unvetted applications? People who don't want them wouldn't have to install them.
posted by grouse at 5:58 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


People need to check out apt-get for the iPhone.
posted by chunking express at 5:58 AM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Sure, that's great. But wouldn't it be better if you could choose to install unvetted applications?

Master said no, that wouldn't be good and Master is so right about these things. You'll see, you'll learn, oh yessssss.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:05 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


You'll still be able to build and install whatever the fuck you want on your own iPhone. You could distribute the source or possibly binaries to others to do the same.

This doesn't appear to be the case. You can get the SDK and install whatever you want in the simulator for free. But to actually run shit on real hardware, you need to have one of the $100 certificates.

This is according to the iPhone program page over at ADC.

You might be able to get around this if you can get Apple to approve a BSD subsystem or something, but I dunno.

As to the general topic: The people wanting a GNU/phone that will run whatever random crap they want can still jailbreak. All Apple just did was pwn their competitors in many, many ways. A reasonable amount of World Domination probably won't come till a 3G iPhone hits, but, man, once that happens...

PS: Super Monkey Ball, or say, Phoenix Wright and Profressor Layton ports on my iPhone? Yes, please.
posted by sparkletone at 6:10 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cognitive dissonance and freedom from. Turns out this is really fucking powerful.
posted by srboisvert at 6:12 AM on March 7, 2008


PPS: They've said they have no intention of disallowing VOIP over wifi (but over EDGE will be a no-no). I can't imagine AT&T was thrilled to hear that.
posted by sparkletone at 6:12 AM on March 7, 2008


The freetards can cry all they like but what they would end up with is akin to how free and unusable Linux is with more applications than users.

Have you actually used Linux in the last year?

Having lots of apps running in the background kills the battery life.
If people could run lots of utilities in the background, one could imagine the perception would develop that the phone battery is "broken" in some way, despite that not really being the case.


Funny, WM5/6 runs exactly the opposite of the Apple way where my apps stay open during phone calls, and battery life's not affected that much by open apps. Phone calls put much more of a strain on my battery than 10 open apps ever have.

Imagine a software free-for-all where every website you visit tries to sneak an application onto your phone. No thanks.

I've never used the iPhone and I'm curious why this is any different than FF, IE, or hell, the craptastic IE for WM? I browse all the time on WM and have never had a website try to install random software. I never run into the same issue with desktop FF unless I go to certain website it'd be expected from.
posted by jmd82 at 6:22 AM on March 7, 2008


iDon'thaveoneanyway.
posted by darkstar at 6:28 AM on March 7, 2008


You might be able to get around this if you can get Apple to approve a BSD subsystem or something, but I dunno.

Nope, that would be prevented by the bit in the original post about not allowing any apps that "install or launch other executable code by any means".
posted by smackfu at 6:32 AM on March 7, 2008


Just a sec, the IPhone can't multitask (with the exception of the music player)? Really? I thought Palm learnt that lesson the hard way...
posted by Hutch at 7:00 AM on March 7, 2008


Just a sec, the IPhone can't multitask (with the exception of the music player)? Really? I thought Palm learnt that lesson the hard way...

It can to a certain extent. The exact wording in the HIG is:
Only one iPhone application can run at a time, and third-party applications never run in the background. This means that when users switch to another application, answer the phone, or check their email, the application they were using quits. It’s important to make sure that users do not experience any negative effects because of this reality. In other words, users should not feel that leaving your iPhone application and returning to it later is any more difficult than switching among applications on a computer.
I take that to mean: Only one application can be displayed at a time. 3rd party apps aren't allowed to run in the background. A certain amount of background stuff already goes on, eg: Mail application checking your accounts every X minutes, or the stop watch continuing to run in the background if you switch away.

I'm guessing they don't want users to have to explicitly shut something off 99.9% of the time, or else have their phone's battery being drained by something running in the background. At least that's the first justification that comes to my mind.

Gruber brings up a few questions. The one I care about the most is:
So it seems like the answer to my question yesterday about how users will be prevented from running apps downloaded directly from developers (rather than through the App Store) is that unsigned apps will only work on your iPhone if you pay (and get approved) for a $99 iPhone developer account. But does that mean that approved developers will be able to freely exchange unsigned apps with each other?
posted by sparkletone at 7:27 AM on March 7, 2008


Nope, that would be prevented by the bit in the original post about not allowing any apps that "install or launch other executable code by any means".

Ah, right. I don't know why I didn't think of that. Back to Jailbreak Town for the people who really, really want that stuff!
posted by sparkletone at 7:27 AM on March 7, 2008


They built a cool little portable computer phone full of great promise and turned into a phone.

I wanted to repeat this for emphasis, and it seems to me the crux of the divergent views. Many people will want their iPhone to be a fancy phone. However, there's a vast undiscovered area that Apple has decided (at least for now) to not pursue. The iPhone with the current set of limitations can not be used as a springboard for an initial foray into the world of ubiquitous computing where the line between what is a local application and a network application begins to disappear. Apple is probably taking a safer path, but its leaving open an opportunity for others, such as Google Android devices, to explore.

So yeah, Apple basically said: none of our ships will venture out of sight of the coastline. There is a large group that breathes a sigh of relief, as they don't have to worry about finding the edge of the world and disappearing into the realm of the sea dragons. Others are disappointed that a fine vessel for making forays out into that unknown has, via official edict, been restrained from doing so.
posted by forforf at 7:29 AM on March 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm in! You Apple haters can SIOOMA!
posted by Scoo at 7:40 AM on March 7, 2008


I'm going to be proven wrong, again.

When the iTunes music store appeared, I said, "No way this will take off! The songs are protected with DRM! Everybody wants their songs in an open format, just like me." It turns out that people just don't give a shit-- if it's easy, they will take whatever Apple spoon-feeds them.

Nobody wants to run Python on their phone, except for a handful of geeks. Ordinary people want to play Peggle and use AIM and play Monkey Balls. And Monkey Balls they will get. The geeks will bitch, everyone else will buy some games, and Apple will make a fortune, again.
posted by jstef at 7:55 AM on March 7, 2008


Guys, windows mobile is like a little PC. It's almost completely open. How much software is SOLD for WM devices? How much of that is non-vertical or consumer? Where do you buy this stuff? Is any one making any money selling apps for WM to consumers?

It's basically circa 1995 Amiga shareware level of software development. You buy the stuff at a shitty little web site (a la http://smartphone.net/). I very much doubt anyone other than a few verticals (medical etc) is making a decent living.

Someone mentioned "the ability to deploy a web server (or a server of any type) that was truly mobile (and small enough to conceal) would profoundly affect aspects of Internet computing."

Uh, this already exists. Apple isn't hurting anyone they're bruising the egos of entitled web hipsters. It's a cool phone with a neat screen & they're mad that they can't also profoundly affect Internet computing? Buy an EEE or a windows mobile device. Go ahead & profoundly change the world, no one's stoping you.

There are & always will be general purpose computers. Stop acting like the existence of other products is some kind of slap in the face.

Are you particularly angry because no one will sell you a general purpose computer at the precise price point & form factor you want?

Let's just wait & see who "fills the void" all the business geniuses on metafilter see. I guess it's going to be Android now. Again the fact that the windows mobile platform is (nearly) completely open and has been for years & hasn't changed the world is because it didn't have some magic google juice.

Not that I have anything against WM phones or the people who use them. I'm using a Q now, it's my fourth WM phone. I've purchased one piece of software, installed a bunch of other crap & nowadays I no longer install software on my WM phone. Some hard resets ago I just quit. Turns out that doom wasn't that important to me.

I'm obviously thinking about switching to the iphone.
posted by Wood at 7:56 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Buy an EEE or a windows mobile device.

I don't know for sure, Wood, but I'm guessing you've never used an iPhone. I can tell you this, though: I don't want to deploy servers using Windows, mobile or otherwise.

Also, I'm not angry. I freakin' love my iPhone. It's not jailbroken and probably will never be. I just think there are profound possibilities that are being, for now, closed off to the mainstream. The jailbreakers will pioneer (as will people on other platforms).

I think you're right, Wood, that there will be some pioneering on Android. But after you've interacted with the touch interface of the iPhone (haptic and gravity-aware), there really is no going back.
posted by mistersquid at 8:05 AM on March 7, 2008


The iPhone with the current set of limitations can not be used as a springboard for an initial foray into the world of ubiquitous computing where the line between what is a local application and a network application begins to disappear.

That is certainly what is being hurfed and durfed about in this thread, but it's not even remotely true. The limitations are an inconvenience, but not so much so that the platform becomes unusable for ubiquitous computing.

Ubiquitous computing has never meant that all nodes are equal. Apple has staked out an identity for the iPhone in that world: it will be a stable, reliable, client. This is bad news for people who wanted to use it as a server (you wanted a battery powered server? Really?) but it's not the end of the world.

They built a cool little portable computer phone full of great promise and turned into a phone.

This is just silly. It's still an iPod, still a web browser, still a mail reader, still an alarm clock. And now it will be just about anything else you want it to be *except* a server.
posted by tkolar at 8:20 AM on March 7, 2008


What's all the fighting for? Look, some computer lovers are tinkerers and wireheads, and some just want their shit to work without having to mess around with the innards.

For the first set of people, we've got Google's Android, among others. And for the second, there's the iPhone. The two companies practically work together anyway, you don't think this could be part of their strategy? Calm down, take a walk. Jeez.
posted by fungible at 8:20 AM on March 7, 2008


I'm a bit baffled by the negative response to this. This is exactly what I was hoping for from an iPhone SDK. They set the barrier to entry very low at $99. Developers are allowed to put up free applications. There doesn't seem to be any lock-down on network use, except for VOIP (big surprise). Likewise, they don't seem to want to block any type of application, except for porn (big deal).

Unless I'm reading the announcements incorrectly, it doesn't even look like you have to ask permission to post your application, you just have to have it signed so they can smack you if your application does something malicious. (Am I misunderstanding this?) I haven't seen any mention that you'll need to send source code to Apple for approval. the only limitation I see is that your app has to be signed. And once you've bought your digital signature for $99, you can upload as many applications as you like.

So, we'll see SSH clients. We'll see alternate browsers (But not with fun things like Greasemonkey). We'll see VNC clients. We'll see VPN clients. We'll see RSS clients. I can't think of anything I'd want to run on a portable Internet client that I won't be able to run. Why is this a tragedy?
posted by Eddie Mars at 8:22 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


My Palm V only ran one app at a time and no one went batshit over that. It's a PDA people, not a bittorrent client on wheels. I'm with the people who think that the list of restrictions is to prevent people from doing things that are a bad idea anyway.
posted by GuyZero at 8:28 AM on March 7, 2008


I have a hunch the nerve gas will get me before I get an iPhone.
posted by breezeway at 8:32 AM on March 7, 2008


it doesn't even look like you have to ask permission to post your application, you just have to have it signed so they can smack you if your application does something malicious.

I don't think it's spelled out whether there is an approval process or not. They already have an approval process to get podcasts listed in the iTunes directory, so I wouldn't be surprised if they do the same for apps.
posted by smackfu at 8:32 AM on March 7, 2008


I don't know why you all get so exercised about the iPhone. It's a crap product that's captured a whopping 6.5% of the market for smart-phones. I understand that it's done some reasonable business in the (very uncompetitive) US market, but nobody wants it in Europe, and they've not even dared try it in Japan yet.

I'll concede that there's still time for them to look at the mess they've made, go back to the drawing board and design a winner. But the 1st gen. iPhone's a stinker.
posted by mr. strange at 8:32 AM on March 7, 2008


FINALLY, I've been waiting for a post about the SDK after seeing it on every other site on the web. Here's my two cents:

* Mr. Jobs seems to think he owns the phone in my pocket. He doesn't. It is mine and I'll do whatever I want with it.
* I'm happy they have a store for Apple approved apps, but it in no way replaces any of the interesting innovative apps that Installer.app has. I'll use both.
* So if I make a free app for doing something silly, I HAVE TO PAY APPLE to put it on my own phone. Honestly. Check the documentation, you can only run it in the emulator unless you buy a certificate.
* A big firmware update, and ActiveSync but Notes STILL DON'T SYNC. And bluetooth SUCKS on the iPhone.

Don't get me wrong, I love my iPhone, but Apple has a serious attitude problem. It pains me to say it, but Microsoft is much nicer to work with on this sort of thing.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:40 AM on March 7, 2008


* Mr. Jobs seems to think he owns the phone in my pocket. He doesn't. It is mine and I'll do whatever I want with it.

Feel free. Mr. Jobs won't try to stop you.
posted by tkolar at 8:42 AM on March 7, 2008


Dear Apple,
No.

Love,
The Rest of the World
posted by 1adam12


Except for the millions that have one, and the millions that are planning on having one.


Somebody will come out with a wide open apple phone clone and apple with be crushed.
posted by srboisvert


I use to idiotic statements on the internet but this may be the most idiotic of all. The iPod has been doomed for the last 5 years. Good job sir.

These kinds of restrictions are very un-Woz.
posted by grouse

And if woz was running the company there would be no iPhone. Hell, there'd be no more apple.

Apple users need to get over themselves. Seriously.
posted by delmoi


No, apple haters and you do delmoi. In the past an apple fan would have posted about the news yesterday. That didn't happen. Instead, with the majority of apple developers very pleased by the news, here comes apple haters to try and find the chink in the armer. How times have changed.

I don't know why you all get so exercised about the iPhone. It's a crap product that's captured a whopping 6.5% of the market for smart-phones. I understand that it's done some reasonable business in the (very uncompetitive) US market, but nobody wants it in Europe, and they've not even dared try it in Japan yet.

I'll concede that there's still time for them to look at the mess they've made, go back to the drawing board and design a winner. But the 1st gen. iPhone's a stinker.
posted by mr. strange


Don't worry mr. strange, I'm sure those grapes are sour.
posted by gtr at 8:52 AM on March 7, 2008


In the past an apple fan would have posted about the news yesterday. That didn't happen.

If the lack of productivity around the office yesterday is any indication, that's because everyone who knows what an SDK is was busy downloading it and building their first app. It's a good thing they didn't post the thing on a Monday or the software industry would have ground to a halt for entire week.
posted by tkolar at 8:59 AM on March 7, 2008


While I'm not going to foam at the mouth about this, the notes on how the limitations are in the interest of stability are (no doubt unintentionally) disingenuous.

It still doesn't check my mail every 15 minutes like I told it to. It still just blackscreens from time to time in Safari. And, most importantly for those who really believe these limitations somehow make it an always-functioning phone, it still blackscreens in response to the odd phonecall. This is not jailbroken. This is nothing special and it is up-to-date.

The point is, it is a computer that controls a phone circuit. If the computer is busy or has lost its mind, it cannot control the phone. No amount of SDK level limitation makes that not true, especially given that now, with no SDK, it still happens. Of course they must work hard to make that occurrence rare. While the 1.0 iPhone is getting ever-more-stable, it's still about on par with previous Windows Mobile devices (when you didn't install any 3rd party software). About the same necessity of hard-resets, about the same number of "oh - the phone never rang...."

The real innovations in the iPhone are: touch and screen quaity/visibility. They are about the same volume as the Q, they are heavier than several other smartphones, and the software they run started out clean and simple (blithely ignoring some basic lessons of other smartphone OSes) and it has been reaping the reward of going it the Monolithic Apple Way - becoming more hacky ever since. (Seriously - wavy floaty icons for rearranging but I can only drag one at a time? Break your UI paradigm much? Oh, also, why can't I see artists when I want to add something to an on-the-go playlist? Why can't I add it when the song is actually playing?)

Nobody, not Your Favorite Technology Icon, not anyone is immune to the pressures of complexity and competing orthogonal requirements over time. iPhone is young enough that it looks like it has broken free of that bond. Apple is savvy enough with getting their cut that they can turn a profit on it. The platform, fundamentally, is still as doomed as all platforms are which try to serve everyone - to collapse under the weight of users' competing notions of entitlement.
posted by abulafa at 9:08 AM on March 7, 2008


the notes on how the limitations are in the interest of stability are (no doubt unintentionally) disingenuous.

Huh? How does the fact that the phone software has bugs make it disingenuous to claim that you're trying to avoid people adding more bugs?
posted by tkolar at 9:12 AM on March 7, 2008


One Device to Rule Them All. One iPhone to Find Them. One SDK to Bring Them All and In The Code, Bind Them
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:15 AM on March 7, 2008


You put rounded corners and shiny plastic on the crap that everyone hates Microsoft, Sony, and so on for, and all sorts of fans run to defend it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:19 AM on March 7, 2008


I am a nerdy nerd and I really don't care about this one way or another.
posted by boo_radley at 9:24 AM on March 7, 2008


It's a crap product ....I'll concede that there's still time for them to look at the mess they've made, go back to the drawing board and design a winner. But the 1st gen. iPhone's a stinker.

Huh?
posted by sourwookie at 9:34 AM on March 7, 2008


and all sorts of fans run to defend it.

Blessedly, we only need to explain it.

Market share will defend it just fine.
posted by tkolar at 9:34 AM on March 7, 2008


What Mr Strange said. The iPhone is not that good a product for a number of reasons and isn't that popular anywhere else apart from in the rather unsophisticated US cell phone market. Don't believe?

Sales of mobile phones worldwide last year - 1.2 billion
Sales of Symbian - 77.3 million (up 50%)
Symbian software applications available - 8,736 (up 27%)
Symbian sells through 250 major worldwide operators
Symbian market share in Japan - 61+%
Symbian market share China - 68+%

Now you could say that Apple's 4 million sales or so are remarkable in just 7 months or so, but it still leaves a pretty huge gap to conquer to get anywhere near a world beating technology. The problem is that the mobile phone market is not like the MP3 player market, there are many more incumbent players and the technology moves so fast that you are in a constant battle against time.

The Nuvifone and new generation Nokias like the N78 are products which show this dynamic at work (and that's not counting the new Windows Mobile handsets like the HTC Cruise with inbuilt GPS). While Apple struggles to implement 3G, the other major players are already working on LTE technology and embedding GPS in every handset, along with 5 megapixel quality cameras. It's a brutal world out there!
posted by Duug at 9:45 AM on March 7, 2008


But wouldn't it be better if you could choose to install unvetted applications?

And then your phone stops working, and you call Apple, who now is spending money on support -- but you get mad if Apple says "we won't supported modded phones," and you get mad if Apple won't let you hack the thing directly. You're a hacker. You have the mindset of "if it doesn't work, I'll fix it." That's fine, but that's not the market.

Look, I know all about self support *and* production support. I run FreeBSD as my primary desktop OS. But I'm also a production netadmin and storage admin, and I understand exactly what will happen if I shove a hack onto a $500K storage system 1 and it crashes.

You do have a choice, of course: Don't buy an iPhone. I haven't, for various reasons. But I know the expectation of a phone -- you dial number foo, bar phone rings. I know how J. Random Hack works -- and I know why Apple is worried about J. Random Hacker's apps.

The iPhone is *not* built for hackers. Hackers want to hack, because they're hackers, but Apple doesn't want hacks on the phone, because supporting vetted and regression tested applications is hard enough in a production system. I can't blame them one bit for that. Hacks make assumptions, because that makes them easier to do. Hacks don't care about security, because that makes them easy to do. Hack tend not to work against the next rev, because, well, you'll just hack at it again until it does, and you have to, because all those assumptions you made changed, because you didn't write to the stable interfaces, because it took too long to learn them, because you were just hacking something up.

That's not a production app or a consumer app. That's a hack. Hack away if you like, but Apple has a much larger population than hackers to sell products to. And those people expect Bejeweled to work after the next iPhone update, and expect the phone to ring when Aunt Tillie calls them.

Oh, and those people have a *shitload* of money.

Not to be against hacks -- I've done tons of them in my time, and will do more soon. I really need to cut a PCB for my headphone amp and case it, for example. But there's a time and place, and Apple -- who has to support them -- decided that the iPhone is not one of them.

1) We're a small shop, true, though we're ordering a new one. Maybe two. Fun times.
posted by eriko at 9:49 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now you could say that Apple's 4 million sales or so are remarkable in just 7 months or so, but it still leaves a pretty huge gap to conquer to get anywhere near a world beating technology.

There is one thing that Apple can and is doing, and that is to define haptic standards for portable computing.

Given the practical reality that few or no other manufacturers have a working product in this area, that categorically puts Apple on world-beating ground.

It's easier for Apple to catch up with technology that already exists and which everyone sells, like fourth-gen cell phone technology, than for its competitors to imitate the touch interface it keeps revising and improving and perfecting in its research labs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:57 AM on March 7, 2008


Market share will defend it just fine.

Hey, if it works for Wal-Mart and McDonald's...
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:02 AM on March 7, 2008


What Mr Strange said. The iPhone is not that good a product for a number of reasons and isn't that popular anywhere else apart from in the rather unsophisticated US cell phone market. Don't believe?

Sales of mobile phones worldwide last year - 1.2 billion
Sales of Symbian - 77.3 million (up 50%)


I agree with portions of your post, and to a certain limited extent with your overall argument, but the stats you're using here aren't quite being used fairly.

1) Comparing a phone that's available in a small handful of countries to world-wide sales doesn't quite work. Neither does comparing total phone sales last year to the sales of a phone that wasn't available anywhere until June. Apple's stated goals for the iPhone in terms of sales actually seem pretty modest to me, given the size of the market.

2) Comparing iPhone sales to Symbian sales is just silly. Apple is not selling iPhone OS anymore than they're licensing OS X. Comparing their sales to the sales of every phone running Symbian is just as disingenuous as comparing iPhone sales to those of every phone running Windows Mobile. Comparing Apple to, say, Nokia seems more apt.

3) The areas in which the iPhone is world-class tech already seem like harder hurdles to climb than, say, finally being able to get 3G chips that meet your power consumption needs, or GPS chips that meet the same. Especially if they can get a compelling software ecosystem going, and it looks like they're not going to have any trouble what so ever doing that.

Finally, I agree that the iPhone has far less appeal outside the US where people can get actually-advanced cellphones on cell networks that are not hamstrung by lazy, stupid telecoms who have little-to-no competition, but, hey. Stephen Goddam Fry loves the iPhone (and the problems he pointed out with it are either gone at this point, or will be soon) and that's good enough for me.
posted by sparkletone at 10:08 AM on March 7, 2008


While Apple struggles to implement 3G, the other major players are already working on LTE technology and embedding GPS in every handset, along with 5 megapixel quality cameras.

No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:18 AM on March 7, 2008


I guess the jailbreakers will have to show Apple the way.
Yeh? They'd better get on with it then, because they've had months and still haven't created a single compelling app. And since it appears that official apps are going to get 90% of the way to things that I reasonably want to do on the move ... I don't see it.

The iPhone is not that good a product for a number of reasons and isn't that popular anywhere else apart from in the rather unsophisticated US cell phone market. Don't believe?
Don't believe. O2 has just said the iPhone is their most successful phone ever, and this is the highly sophisticated UK market. Symbian? Ha: you have to code specifically for each different handset running Symbian. Way to go, geniuses.

The thing Apple said yesterday that struck me most was how they're "years" ahead in software. And it's true, from what I can see. What other mobile platform comes close to the full software package that Apple is running? And even if one did come close -- does the software author also have control over the hardware? No? Game over.
posted by bonaldi at 10:19 AM on March 7, 2008


I agree that the iPhone has far less appeal outside the US where people can get actually-advanced cellphones on cell networks that are not hamstrung by lazy, stupid telecoms who have little-to-no competition,
I wouldn't agree. Europe is the market you describe, and we're going equally nuts for the thing. The thing is spreading in my office far, far faster than the iPod did, and I work with old people.
posted by bonaldi at 10:21 AM on March 7, 2008


No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

Not only that, but Apple is going bankrupt yet again!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:22 AM on March 7, 2008


Also I'm quite surprised at the histronics of the Apple-haters in this thread. It used to be they had a much more patronising tone, all about how they made their own PC for cheaper, or how OS 9 sucked, or how Apple was doomed. Now that the softer targets are vanishing, they're becoming increasingly shrill.
posted by bonaldi at 10:27 AM on March 7, 2008


Symbian market share in Japan - 61+%
Symbian market share China - 68+%


Wow, this is a pointless figure because the iPhone isn't for sale in Japan or China yet. In Europe, it's only sold in 3 markets. Geez, it's like you're comparing sales of In-n-Out hamburgers to McDonald's worldwide gross.

You're sorely mistaken about its popularity in China because people often ask friends to buy iPhones for them when visiting the US. There's already a thriving market for imported unlocked iPhones in China selling at $100-$300 premium.

In Europe, it's been outselling its competitors (HTC Touch, LG Prada, Nokia N95, and Nokia's E-Series). In France, Orange stores have been selling out their stock.
posted by junesix at 10:57 AM on March 7, 2008


Finally, I agree that the iPhone has far less appeal outside the US where people can get actually-advanced cellphones on cell networks that are not hamstrung by lazy, stupid telecoms who have little-to-no competition,

NB: I say the iPhone has far less appeal, but that's right now relative to other phones on the market. Much like in the US, when a 3G version drops, oh man.
posted by sparkletone at 11:41 AM on March 7, 2008


I'm quite surprised at the histronics of the Apple-haters in this thread

You know what you sound like? A religious person. The people who have problems with the iPhone, myself included, have all mentioned reasons. How is that shrill or hystrionic?
posted by srboisvert at 12:35 PM on March 7, 2008


How is that shrill or hystrionic?

"You know what you sound like? A religious person. "
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:56 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


... into bondage
... and Apple will be crushed
Any room for nuance there, srboisvert? And what BB said.
posted by bonaldi at 1:19 PM on March 7, 2008


Reaction from John Siracusa.

He asks whether or not the iPhone can fly in the face of an industry where open application development is the norm (which is only to get more open with Android coming to the party), and then draws an interesting parallel to console game development, which he points out are "walled gardens" in every sense that the iPhone ecosystem Apple's seeking to create will be.

My initial reaction is much the same as his, "When the [DS/iPhone/whatever] is selling almost as fast as they can make them, who wouldn't want to be selling applications for it?"
posted by sparkletone at 1:31 PM on March 7, 2008


John Carmack is... not a hater?

Actually, like the goldrush mentality mentioned in the Siracusa writeup, it's pretty obvious that Carmack and id see a lot of money on the table when it comes to writing stuff for the iPhone.
posted by sparkletone at 1:46 PM on March 7, 2008


... into bondage
... and Apple will be crushed
Any room for nuance there, srboisvert? And what BB said.


Maybe I am a bit over the top but I can't help but poke at people who think a lack of freedom is a feature.
posted by srboisvert at 1:56 PM on March 7, 2008


Has anyone actually been accepted by Apple into the beta program, after the SDK was released and they let people sign up on their site + apply to get in? I've seen posts and comments from people who downloaded the SDK and tried but failed to move apps onto their iPhones because they're missing the certificate. But none from someone who was accepted into the beta + paid $99 + got a certificate. Apple did say they are only allowing a "limited" number of developers to do this, but I wonder how picky they are being.
posted by shortfuse at 2:07 PM on March 7, 2008


God, this part of the thread is tedious (because it gets rehashed any number of places every time Apple so much as sneezes), but:

Maybe I am a bit over the top but I can't help but poke at people who think a lack of freedom is a feature.

For starters, lets be clear: This isn't the same sort of essential, inalienable Human Freedom. No one's rights are being trampled on because you have to jump through a few cursory hoops before you can start running whatever you want on your iPhone.

But still.

Freedom defined how? "I want to run what I want, when I want, how I want it?" What if how Apple wants to do things is how you want things run, or is acceptably close. What freedom have you given up?

More importantly: What freedom are you lacking? Jailbreaking your iPhone is consequence-free and lets you do any batty thing you like, from useful things like an ssh client on your phone, to silly things like goddam Apache on your phone. And minus a short wait after each firmware update, jailbreaking is a trivial thing to accomplish.

The only thing which (might) brick your phone is SIM unlocking it. But so what?

Lack of a freedom I have no intention of exercising, when it's not one of those all-important inalienable human rights, isn't exactly a valuable thing. "O NOZ. The piece of consumer electronics I've purchased isn't a general-purpose GNU/free-for-all! I can't convert video with ffmpeg on my iPhone!" Boo fucking hoo, I say.

Bring on a real NetNewsWire for my phone, and Super Monkey Ball and Spore and whatever other crazy shit iPhone developers come up with. The fee to get a certificate is trivial, and I imagine Apple wants to be as liberal as possible with those things because having a ton of cool software for this thing is only going to make them more money.

People who really care about GNU/Freedom and being able to tweak the smallest thing are not being impeded in any way, because attempting to do so would be pointless.

PS: Yes, you are over the top, but you're not the worst I've seen. The priceless part was the irony of "You know what you sound like? A religious person. ... How is that shrill?"
posted by sparkletone at 2:12 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


How is that shrill or hystrionic?

"I can't help but poke at people who think a lack of freedom is a feature."

Look, I understand that the iPhone isn't as open as it could be or even as other phones are.

heh.

I just don't care and no one has bothered to explain why I should. This just histronics about how awful, awful it is and these actions are just utterly mean and stupid on Apple's part.

I HATE using my current phone, really loathe it, despite the fact it can do AIM, a crippled internet (mobile cnn or some such), text, video DJ, record sound and all this other crap that's buried under a god awful interface.

The iPhone seems as though as it cuts out most of the useless crap, puts the remaining useful features on steroids and wraps it up in a nice interface. That's fucking gold, man, it sounds freaking useful, to the point where I like using it and can't leave without it.

So, what'cha got that should make want to disregard all of the above?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:17 PM on March 7, 2008


Maybe I am a bit over the top but I can't help but poke at people who think a lack of freedom is a feature.

How many apps have you developed recently for your Wii/XBox/PS3? Has anyone really decided to not buy a Wii because they're locked out of it? No.

Lack of freedom is a great feature. Just ask anyone who develops PC games and has to support the dozens of different video cards & drivers out there. Heck, ask me - ever tried to write software that handles the dozens of UNIX variants out there? What a nightmare. Windows and it uniformity is a dream in comparison.

It's not a PC. It's an ipod that makes phone calls. Maybe that will help reset your expectations.
posted by GuyZero at 2:28 PM on March 7, 2008


I occasionally write little apps for my Nokia Symbian based phone. I use python, because it's a good RAD language, it's free, and I already know it. If I had to use the C SDK, I wouldn't bother - it's just too much effort. Writing phone apps isn't my job, it's just something I do to make my life and my friends lives a bit easier. I've been holding off on getting an iPhone until I could see what the SDK was like, and so far it doesn't look like a pleasant platform to code for. So I guess I won't bother. I'm sure there are a bunch of dev houses that will spend the time and money to produce products for this platform, but I'm pretty sure there are also a lot of developers like me, who see the hassle and will do something else with their time instead.
posted by mock at 3:07 PM on March 7, 2008


I've been holding off on getting an iPhone until I could see what the SDK was like, and so far it doesn't look like a pleasant platform to code for.

Really? The docs look good, Xcode is nice, Interface Builder is nice, the benchmarking/debugging stuff looks fine. The only onerous thing for a one-man hobbyist type person is the $99 so that you can run your stuff on real hardware... But honestly, I've spent $100 on way more frivolous things.

Overall, it doesn't look significantly more/less unpleasant than coding a regular Cocoa app. Admittedly, your Python<>Cocoa bindings aren't going to do you any good here... (yet?) and ObjC may not be your bag.

My only concern is having the time to do anything with all the other things competing for my non-work hours (particularly when music wins out over everything else for me 90% of the time), but the SDK is free and I've got the hard drive space, so I don't see much harm in playing around with stuff on the simulator just as a start.

Incidentally, this is probably how they get you, for values of "you" who are way more into coding than I am.
posted by sparkletone at 3:17 PM on March 7, 2008


Maybe I am a bit over the top but I can't help but poke at people who think a lack of freedom is a feature.

Time to read some Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Loss of certain freedoms opens up other freedoms -- this isn't zero-sum. And certainly within the realm of fucking cell phones, you can shop elsewhere. Let a thousand flowers bloom!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:23 PM on March 7, 2008


The $100 is no big deal. Limiting development to a single language/IDE toolchain is. It's exactly as you say, competition for my non-work hours is what is at issue. I may change my mind somewhere down the road, but right now Xcode and Objective C don't look like much fun to code in.
posted by mock at 3:29 PM on March 7, 2008


I may change my mind somewhere down the road, but right now Xcode and Objective C don't look like much fun to code in.

Yeah. That's totally understandable. Xcode, I actually like, but learning another language (even though I already know C well) is mildly intimidating, at least when it comes to barriers-to-entry.

I've dabbled a little in Cocoa programming, but that was all with the help of a Python<>Cocoa bridge so that I wouldn't have to learn ObjC. Mac developers seem to really love their working environment... But that's not exactly an unbiased crowd.

The Sega guy in the presentation said he was able to go from 0 to Super Monkey Ball in 2 weeks, which is heartening except for the fact that he had 8+ hours a day to work, and I will have maybe 3-4 a week tops.
posted by sparkletone at 3:37 PM on March 7, 2008


Xcode, I actually like

I understand throwing Apple a little love, but please, let's stay within the realm of possibility here...
posted by tkolar at 4:20 PM on March 7, 2008


tkolar: It's not the greatest thing ever made, but it doesn't irk me as much as the version of CodeWarrior I was exposed to a long, long, long time ago, nor does it seem as awful as many other IDEs I've used or tinkered with.

Sure, the ubernerd in me would be happy with TextMate + a pile of terminals, but whatever, I can deal.

PS: Ice burn.
posted by sparkletone at 6:59 PM on March 7, 2008


Firefox is a pretty horrible Mac program, so perhaps it's for the best that it might not be possible to port it to the iPhone.
posted by gyc at 8:04 PM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


sparkletone: you can just use Xcode to organize the project + build it, and use Textmate to do the actual editing part. That's what I usually do, you can build straight from Textmate (it calls xcodebuild). Apparently quite a lot of Apple employees do this too, they have a site license! I remember a dev questionarre that asked what tools you use to build your projects, and Textmate was at the top of the list, above Xcode.

Nu (a CocoaLisp) is already working on the iPhone
posted by blasdelf at 8:38 PM on March 7, 2008


you can just use Xcode to organize the project + build it, and use Textmate to do the actual editing part.

This is something I forget regularly as 90% of the stuff I edit with TextMate these days doesn't require compilation (or much in the way of organization). Sad face.

Thanks for the reminder!
posted by sparkletone at 8:52 PM on March 7, 2008


Time to read some Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Loss of certain freedoms opens up other freedoms -- this isn't zero-sum. And certainly within the realm of fucking cell phones, you can shop elsewhere. Let a thousand flowers bloom!

As long as that becomes a possibility. The issue is that if enough people are willing toss the freedoms I want out the window for rounded corners and fancy touch tech then all the other companies will follow suit. I hoped the iPhone would push the boundaries of what you could do with a phone and how you could do it. Instead it is a lot like an iPod - a fancier version of more of the same - and it isn't because the hardware is bad. It is because the business decisions are bad, or perhaps not optimal, for the consumer. Imagine what the computing environment would be like if this kind of lock down existed for PC's. We probably wouldn't have an internet.

Consumers shouldn't have to jailbreak hardware. They shouldn't be in prison in the first place.
posted by srboisvert at 1:16 AM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now there's an argument I can understand. I don't totally agree though. The mobile phone wouldn't be as good and ubiquitous as it is now without the fact that it was locked to specific suppliers. You could say the same about video game systems.

The question becomes "what sort of device is an iPhone."
The fact that it is sold as a device at a profit implies that it could be open (like a PC), but I think measures made to placate industry fears (and get a carrier) dropped it into the second category.

b.t.w. I'm not willing to throw the freedoms you discuss away. I care vehemently about the locking down of computers. I just think the iPhone is a strange device to pin this particular argument on.

I'd also like to say that I have an iPhone and I love it. I know it's not for everybody, but it is for me. I know there's a lot of you above think I'm mad for liking it, but for now, for me it's the perfect mobile phone. Before the iPhone I had a Nokia N95. That did everything, and I hated it.
posted by seanyboy at 6:09 AM on March 8, 2008


In other news, Sun announced they will be developing a Java VM for the iPhone. I guess that means the world hasn't ended after all.
posted by alms at 8:14 AM on March 8, 2008


That slippery slope argument your making is dubious srboisvert. What about the GPS in my car? Is that also leading towards a world where there will be no general purpose computers? My disagreement with the anti-iphone types is (as I said before) predicated on the fact that there still are GP computers of many different sizes and form factors. Most people seem to ignore that rather than argue as you do that the popularity of the iphone will destroy the GP computer, an argument that to my ear sounds frankly hysterical. Of course you denigrate any reason one might have for buying an iphone which is frankly inconsistent. If it's just because of the rounded corners then the open competitors can instantly copy those features. If it's rather more complex than that & including the advantages of the closed system then it'll be much harder for competitors.

In general most people seem to like what apple has done & just want it opened up. So they want Apple to do more. I think people vastly underestimate the cost of "just open it up", "provide an option", "provide a disclaimer", etc. The ask is for Apple to keep doing what it does & also do what Microsoft does. Backwards compatibility, openness have costs. The have development costs and they have costs in terms of the final product (if only because of the opportunity costs.) Apple doesn't want to do what Microsoft does, where's the money in that? In Microsoft's pocket that's where.

I'll throw out my question again (I think it's a good one obviously), in the WM open world where I can DL a .cab file who's making money selling consumers apps or games? I know the palm is similar, I imagine that the nokia phones are similar. How much money to todo list makers, recipe books and card game folks make?

To put it in simple terms none of those companies invested in creating something like itunes or the apple store. Those resources of Apple will sell software for the iphone. Apple is ABSOLUTELY resource constrained. They are going to do this thing which is going to blow away the competition in terms of sw sales. They are not going then spend 1/10 the capital to invest in what you want which is going to return 1/1000th of the money. Even the 1 dev day it took them to make a cab loader dealio would pay off better spent on improving their storefront or their dev tools. (Especially when you consider that that little thing you want then requires support, test, etc.)

Why can free software do it then? Well it's hardly impossible, but they're not running a business, they do whatever they want & they don't have to have any ROI. Thankfully there are hardware companies out there to make GP computing for shitty returns. God bless Dell. If GP computers disappear it won't be something Apple did. Apple is just making it clear how bad the business of selling openish commodities (perfect for hackers) has become. This would be clear eventually regardless of the iphone. Hackers who buy GP HW are great, hackers who jailbreak consumer electronics ought to realize that they're free riders and stop bitching so much.
posted by Wood at 8:18 AM on March 8, 2008


In other news, it was pointed out to me last night that the distribution model linked in with iTunes makes it trivial for independent software developers to charge one or two dollars for their app -- a price point that usually isn't worth bothering with.

With a market of 4 million users and growing, a good software developer could live off a stream of $1 apps. Plus it's the moral equivalent of paying artists directly for their music, so everyone can feel good about it.
posted by tkolar at 8:39 AM on March 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the SDK is much better than what they had before, and I think with time, they'll allow more things that people want to do. I think they're just playing it safe with the first release. In particular, I'm about 1,000% sure that they'll allow apps to run in the background and allow them to have disk access eventually. I can think of LOTS of reasons not to allow doing that. I bet within a few months of release, there will be apps that get special permission from apple to run in the background-- i'm thinking particularly of AIM.
posted by empath at 9:17 AM on March 8, 2008


The issue is that if enough people are willing toss the freedoms I want out the window for rounded corners and fancy touch tech then all the other companies will follow suit.

Sorry, but the more that haters like you keep talking about rounded corners, as if that's the only innovation Apple ever came up with, people really can't take you seriously, at all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:56 AM on March 8, 2008


Windows Mobile sucks, but you can install whatever apps you want and none of the alleged problems with that detailed here ever seem to happen.
posted by erikharmon at 6:59 PM on March 8, 2008


I think the first part of your sentence is the most important bit.
posted by empath at 7:19 PM on March 8, 2008


The issue is that if enough people are willing toss the freedoms I want out the window for rounded corners and fancy touch tech then all the other companies will follow suit.

Sorry, but the more that haters like you keep talking about rounded corners, as if that's the only innovation Apple ever came up with, people really can't take you seriously, at all.


Oh come off it BP. I don't "hate" iPhones. I don't own and don't want one but I don't hate them. I think people who buy them are making bad choices not because it is a a bad product. Apple makes beautiful things that I myself sometimes lapse into coveting until I think it through. I just can't bring myself to fund a company that pushes DRM, feature lockout and centralized control over what can be installed.

Some people want that. They want to be looked after and not to have to make decisions for themselves. Not me.

After thinking this through for a bit i think that apple doesn't make iphones or ipods. Those are just gadgets that can be cloned, copied or duplicated and there is no real margin there. What Apple seems to do is manufacture consumers who will buy their gadgets.
posted by srboisvert at 5:13 AM on March 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Those are just gadgets that can be cloned, copied or duplicated and there is no real margin there.
Except nobody has done a decent job of it yet, after seven years, and as for the margin, Apple's margins are famously massive.

What Apple seems to do is manufacture consumers who will buy their gadgets.
ooooh, deeeeep.
posted by bonaldi at 9:06 AM on March 9, 2008


What a condescending load of horseshit.
posted by empath at 9:07 AM on March 9, 2008


It's true. If the release of this SDK proves anything, it's that Apple is fanatically driven to make sure that they are the only ones writing software for the iPhone.
posted by tkolar at 9:15 AM on March 9, 2008


Some people want that. They want to be looked after and not to have to make decisions for themselves. Not me.

I'm tired of cell phone companies making my life easy! I want to go back to the good old days of tin cans and string! Waah!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:23 AM on March 9, 2008


OK, one more point. If the lock down means that every app won't begin with a lower-case i, that alone will be worth it.
posted by Wood at 5:53 PM on March 9, 2008


ooooh, deeeeep.
What a condescending load of horseshit.
I'm tired of cell phone companies making my life easy! I want to go back to the good old days of tin cans and string! Waah!


I apologize for not liking an Apple product and Apple's business strategies. Clearly this offended you guys and I should be more sensitive to your beliefs.
posted by srboisvert at 2:53 AM on March 10, 2008


I apologize for not liking an Apple product and Apple's business strategies.

S'okay, man. Just don't let it happen again.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:18 AM on March 10, 2008


I'm not offended. I just think you're wrong and I'm stating my case.
Just like you think I'm wrong and you're stating your case.

Unless of course you're offended & you're hinting that we should be more sensitive to your beliefs.
posted by seanyboy at 8:08 AM on March 10, 2008


What Apple seems to do is manufacture consumers who will buy their gadgets.

Never mind the condescension, this argument doesn't even seem coherent to me.

By your logic, what company doesn't manufacture consumers who will buy their products? ... Except maybe the US auto companies?

Someone plays Mario when they're 5, loves it to death, Nintendo has just manufactured a consumer who will buy their products!

Someone eats a particular kind of frozen pizza, decides it is more delicious than other kinds of frozen pizza, and starts buying that kind. Digiorno's has just manufactured a consumer who will buy their stuff!

In what regard does this make Apple any different from any other company looking to make money?
posted by sparkletone at 8:38 AM on March 10, 2008


I apologize for not liking an Apple product and Apple's business strategies. Clearly this offended you guys and I should be more sensitive to your beliefs.

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:28 AM on March 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


My statement wasn't offering Windows Mobile as an alternative. I was disputing the claim that being able to run "unauthorized" third party apps will inevitably lead to malware that mails your contact list to spammers or something. This doesn't appear to be happening on Windows Mobile. It COULD happen, but it's not. The same argument is made regarding Macs and spyware/trojans in the Apple community all the time.

This is barring any technical reason that would make the iPhone more susceptible to malicious software, in which case such restrictions may be important.
posted by erikharmon at 10:16 AM on March 10, 2008


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