Many developers will have picked up on the news that Apple has announced that third-party software engineers will be able to create apps for the iPhone in the near future. This is somewhat of a U-turn from Apple’s previous position where the company insisted that third-party development could open the door to security risks for both the device itself and the operator networks it works within. That said, the SDKs will not be released until next year, so you had better choose something else for your Christmas stocking.
Looking further afield, I notice that last week the Open Mobile Terminal Alliance published a paper on handset security with the intention of, “Exploring potential threats to mobile platforms and providing guidance on best practice.” As it turns out, there’s a lot more to consider when trying to strike a balance between creating open mobile platforms and guaranteeing security and privacy – so Apple’s final direction and position on this issue will be a compelling story to follow.
For a third-party opinion on third-party development I spoke to Antony Edwards, VP of developer product marketing for Symbian. “It's certainly not easy to create an open platform for mobile application development. Developers demand freedom and we need to give it to them so that they can be innovative and produce compelling applications. At the same time we also have to ensure that consumers continue to have the faultless experience they are used to on mobile devices and that the security of the operators’ networks can't be compromised. It's not a surprise that Symbian OS is one of the very few operating systems that even attempts to provide an open platform outside of the traditional PC world.
“We have always been about being an open platform, it's our DNA, so we've been working hard on this since the beginning through Symbian Signed and our Platform Security architecture. We’re also constantly talking to developers, enterprises, consumers, OEMS and network operators to understand how we can provide an even better experience. But it's not easy and we think that many within the indusrty have a lot of catching up to do,” said Edwards.
So as the third-party application ecosystem evolves, will Apple provide us with the right tools for the job – or will it all turn sour. Watch this space.