updated 10:45 am EDT, Wed June 13, 2007
Analyst on iPhone apps
Apple on Monday revealed at its World Wide Developers Conference that it would not release a software development kit (SDK) for its forthcoming iPhone, but that the device will run Web-based applications instead. A software development kit would have enabled developers to create more complex standalone applications for the iPhone, and Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster spoke with nine developers who offered their views on both the pros and cons of using Web-based applications. "The general consensus was that Apple has gone with a slightly limiting, but more secure way of offering third-party applications," the analyst said. The developer community was hoping for the release of a software development kit for the iPhone, but unanimously agreed that Web-based applications are more secure in spite of their limited capabilities.
Pros of iPhone Web-based applications
"The primary benefit of not opening the iPhone to built-in third-party applications is security. Third-party applications can easily include viruses, causing network instability, but the iPhone will be more reliable because it will only use the applications that Apple has built into the device," said Munster.
All Web-based applications for iPhone will run through Apple's Safari Web browser, giving Apple full control of the applications stored locally on the device.
"Despite the hosted nature of these apps, they can still use iPhone's 'services' like making calls or using Google Maps."
Cons of iPhone Web applications
Munster points to the limitations of Web-based software as the primary drawback for iPhone developers.
"While an SDK would enable slightly more complex applications that could run without an internet connection, the Web-based applications will require an internet connection to operate," the analyst said. "Furthermore, the Web-based applications are generally less complex than standalone applications."
Finally, Munster says Web-based applications are more difficult for the average user to locate and utilize than built-in software. The analyst notes, however, that the iPhone comes with all of the essential features built-in to provide the average user with few reasons to run third-party applications.