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Analyst: iPhone development secure, limited

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.

by MacNN Staff





  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969



    for instance you certainly couldn't build a robust word processor or spreadsheet with web-based ap- what? google who? oh. uh, right. never mind.

  1. OtisWild

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Local cached widgets...

    ... I highly doubt that you won't be able to install a Widget and have it merely run locally off some XML files, like you can with Dashboard.

    You can write a calculator in a widget using Javascript and it won't need to pass a packet to run.

    I think that if a rich enough set of iPhone functionality (such as dial out, caller ID, access to internal addressbook/mail, camera, etc.) is made available thru a javascript framework of some sort, this could actually be pretty darned nice.

    Still, having an SSH client on the fone would come in handy, especially if there was a LANDSCAPE KEYBOARD...

  1. jarod

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's the right call

    Apple made the right decision. If the latter was better, then why are the current 'smart phones' such pieces of s***?

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: local chaced

    I don't think Apple is allowing permanent storage on the iPhone other than cookies. So, it's quite possible that it won't work.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: its the right call

    So, you're theory is that, because current phones suck, and allow 'real' apps, then they must suck because of the apps?

    The only thing more "secure" about a web-app is that, in theory, it can't s**** around with the OS. But you then have the insecurity of having your data being sent to/from the server and the server having to store the data. Who's guaranteeing that all of this is being done securely?

    What I find funny is how so concerned apple is that their phone version of OS X is so apparently frail that a single third-party app could bring the whole thing crashing to the ground. I thought OS X was stable and able to handle such issues.

    And web sites have been known to crash Safari, so there's nothing that says that won't still happen.

  1. 54nd3r

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The browser ís the OS

    How long before all non-OS software is made in 'browsers'...

    I can think of more than a few nice iPhone apps that wouldn't need any web access besides loading themselves. So Apple better be providing a way to store these apps for access in areas with no WiFi or EDGE. (Golfcourses for example) Maybe combining a script-let and the app stored in cookies is a solution. Images can be stored as a Base64 string. (See the Acid2 test)

    Can somebody come up with a script-let that boots a web app from a cookie?

  1. Feynman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The reason....

    ....I don't like this kind of development is because Apple already have a very rich platform for developers. Objective C and Cocoa are beautiful languages and if they just allowed apps to be written and then submitted to Apple for their stamp of approval then we would be set.

    They could be uploaded into the phone via iTunes or even iSync. Easy.

    Maybe in time.

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