Apple CEO Steve Jobs said Wednesday there will be a third party applications developer kit for the iPhone and iPod Touch in February.
In a post in Apple's "hot news" section, Jobs said:
Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK (software developers kit) 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.
So why will this take until February to get this iPhone kit into developers' hands? Jobs explained that security is a big reason (also see Techmeme).
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.
Jobs also gave Nokia some props for being open with recent limits for security. Matthew Miller has also touted Nokia's relationship with developers. Perhaps those relationships, the prospects of an open mobile OS from Google and Nokia's pursuit of touch screen technology prodded Apple to create a developers kit.
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.
Steve mentions the way Nokia digitally signs some applications, I believe Windows Mobile does this as well, and it looks like Apple will try to apply that same level of verification and trust to their SDK. I don’t mind this verification if it means I can install and use a reliable applications and think there does have to be some level of security with 3rd party apps.
I'm really curious to hear some thoughts about this move. In any case, it's good news. Maybe Jason O'Grady will get some of those iPhone features he wants from third parties.
Apple Core iPhone posts.