This stuff moves fast… just yesterday I was talking about speculation that Apple would make a move to enable native third-party application development. I also feel like it’s bound to happen, and Apple would be killing the platform of the iPhone/Touch if it didn’t happen.
On Apple’s “Hot News” page, Steve Jobs has posted a note (a fantastic note) explaining that Apple developers are working on an official SDK (Software Development Kit) that they expect to have ready around February 2008. This SDK will apply to both the iPhone and the Touch. Right now, they plan to take an approach that mimic’s a move recently made by Nokia, to require applications to carry a digital authorization signature saying that they have come from a trusted developer. This is going to keep a lot of small developers off of the platform, which is a shame, but it will increase security and quality of the applications distributed. I’m sure the authorization can be hacked eventually as well. I see a two-level development community. One level of official developers like EA and Goolge creating sanctioned applications, and then the hacker community like we have now, struggling to crack every firmware update to allow unauthorized code to run. Should be fun!
I’m thrilled, as I know everyone else is. I can’t wait to buy the apps I used to use on the Palm and Windows Mobile.
The entire message from Steve Jobs is posted below:
Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developersâ€™ 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 weâ€™re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at onceâ€”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 phonesâ€”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 â€œtotally open,â€ 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 iPhoneâ€™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.