Dumb move: iPhone's "sweet, innovative" dev solution is neither

Dumb move: iPhone's "sweet, innovative" dev solution is neither

Summary: "Weeeeeaaaak." That's how one blogger described the iPhone support for 3rd party developers announced at WWDC07 today, and after watching the video of this morning's keynote address by Steve Jobs I have to agree.


"Weeeeeaaaak." That's how one blogger described the iPhone support for 3rd party developersJobs tries to spin developers at WWDC07 announced at WWDC07 today, and after watching the video of this morning's keynote address by Steve Jobs I have to agree.

Jobs explained that Apple has been "trying to come up with a solution to expand the capabilities of the iPhone so developers can write great apps for it, and we've come up with a very sweet solution." But his "sweet solution" is nothing more than the ability to view web pages in Safari.

"It's an innovative new way to create applications for mobile devices," he continued. Uh huh. "You can write amazing Web 2.0 and Ajax apps!" Thanks Steve, we've been wanting to do that for a long time.

Dan Farber called this a "smart move", saying "it’s a friction-free and secure way to get tens of thousands of developers working in an iPhone ecosystem." Instead, I think it's a sure fire way to get tens of thousands of developers to completely ignore the iPhone.

According to Jobs, the apps will "look and behave exactly like apps on the iPhone." Except that you don't have to launch the browser to start any of your other iPhone apps, and they have full access to Core animation, utilize local storage, can be multi-tasked, and run at full native speed. Other than that they're exactly the same.

Topics: Apps, iPhone, Mobility, Software Development

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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  • Greenphone, anyone?


    I admit the color of it is ugly, IMO, but the development platform for it is 10x more open than what Jobs is putting on the table.
    Tony Agudo
    • It's not just the color.

      The phone is ugly. period.
      One thing that the success of the ipod demonstrates is that even devices with more or better features won't succeed unless it also has a beautiful design.
      Cell phones- like the ipod are mass consumer devices and have to appeal to a variety of people- many of whom have a more sophisticed sence of aesthetics than the average left-brain computer geek.
      • Unfortunately...

        aesthetics isn't what the discussion is about. It's about developers(the left-brained computer geeks) and what the iPhone isn't offering to them, a real SDK. Web-based applications can only extend as far as the browser, and are dependent on an Internet connection. For a mobile device, passing off already existing Web technology as a development platform is lame.

        But if you want aesthetics plus openness, take a look here:
        Tony Agudo
      • You've both missed the entire point.

        [b]The phone is ugly. period. [/b]

        The Greenphone is part of the Trolltech SDK. It's not designed or meant to be a regular daily use phone. It's designed to be a development platform so programmers can work on the Qtopia core OS. It's kind of hard to test stuff you've written without having the hardware to give you that real world test experience.

        Now... If you wanna see a really PRETTY phone that uses the Qtopia core Linux distro - check out the Motorola A1200 phone.

        • Ok, that's a nice phone

          But the link you put up didn't mention the phone uses Qtopia. You should have added this link:

          But I'm sure you agree, trying to pass off web browser technology as a mobile device development platform is lame and insulting to developers. You can't counter that using an aesthetics strawman. Contrary to what Jobs said about an iPhone SDK, you [b]can[/b] have a real open SDK and be secure, as Qtopia and OpenMoko clearly show.
          Tony Agudo
          • Thanks for those links

            Much appreciated.
  • You've unleashed the giant

    Watch the Apple zealots come stampeding to your blog telling you how much of an idiot you are and that you don't understand how brilliant Jobs is and that you should just go back to Winbl0wZ because you are a $hill and did you know that ZDNet was owned by M$ and that the iPhone isn't out yet so you don't know what you are talking about and that Jobs will [b]surely[/b] fix this problem, not that it is a problem, but if it was a problem, he would fix it before June 29 and on June 30 all other cell phones will be obsolete and OSX rules and... must... catch... breathe...
    • Oh yeah, forgot one more thing

      You think that this is a dumb move? Well buster brown, have you seen Apple's share price lately? It is [b]so[/b] much better than M$'s share price so that proves that this isn't a dumb move. SO THERE!!!
      • LOL

        Thanks for the laugh. :)
        Ed Burnette
        • Yeah, we laugh at his antics everyday!

        • Unfortunately, he's being serious. [nt]

  • Ok, admit it

    You really don't know what Web 2.0 and ajax are, do you? How do you get "more open" than technologies you can look on any website for? That are, in fact, free to develop in?

    • Web 2.0+AJAX? Weeeeeaaaak

      Jobs is trying to pass off browser technology as a mobile device SDK. See <a href="http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-12353-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=34877&messageID=641885&start=-1">my post</a> about a real open mobile device, and <a href="http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-10532-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=34888&messageID=642070&start=-1">this one</a> from Dan Farber's article which describes why Jobs' iPhone announcement is so weak, developers will avoid it like the plaugue.
      Tony Agudo
    • Eh?

      First off, if you ask 10 developers what Web 2.0 and Ajax are you'd get 11 different definitions. Second, I didn't say the technologies weren't "open". The problem is that Apple can develop better, more integrated apps on the iPhone than anyone else because of their unique access to an SDK with native APIs. Put another way, could Apple have implemented the built-in apps with the mechanisms they're providing to 3rd party developers? No, of course not.
      Ed Burnette
      • Remember also ...

        ... these browser based apps only work well with a decent WiFi connection. This means many people won't have continuous access to third party, iPhone, browser apps.
        P. Douglas
      • I agree in part...

        I agree in part. It's understandable that Apple would want to keep the phone closed, they want to ensure the user experience is the same for everyone and not hampered by horrible 3rd party software. However, it is pretty lame that developers are limited to web pages (let's face it, that's what it is.)

        I would've almost been happier if they had set up some sort of review and testing panel for every app submitted.

        You can be assured, though, that the OSS community will find a way to hack the iPhone and put whatever you want on there. I say give it one more revision, then after it has an established market, Apple will start letting on 3rd party software.

        They did the same thing with the original iPod. It took them a while, but they eventually allowed 3rd party games and software to run on the iPod.
      • The SDK

        I wonder. If there was a public SDK could it be used to put telephony into a Mac? And
        does that matter? I wonder if the SDK hording has something to do with the terms of
        the deal with AT&T.

        If the iPhone lays an Egg 2.0, then the SDK issue will be so moot. If it is a success
        (you know, the day NonZealot says either "the iPhone is a success," or "I vastly
        understimated just how many sheep there are"), then I would expect a real SDK
        would be made available or a more convincing reason why not revealed.
  • Ignore the iPhone

    I don't see any reason anyone should pay much attention to it from a development standpoint. I thought your assessment was spot-on. The iPhone is neat, but with the quality of web application developers I see out there every day, what do you bet using "Web 2.0" (over-hyped marketing bullshit term) will produce a ton of crappy iPhone code?

  • The death of platform?

    Apple will regret encouraging their own developer to move away from platform
    dependence, which exactly what they did with this move. If they can learn to develop
    any great app so that it runs on any browser, what does it matter what platform or
    what browser it runs in? Apple needs "platform" and they just told they developers to
    learn how to develop without it!
  • The best take on this that I've read...

    ...comes from Daring Fireball:

    "If all you have to offer is a sh*t sandwich, just say it. Don?t tell us how lucky we are and that it?s going to taste delicious."
    tic swayback