updated 09:35 am EDT, Mon October 1, 2007
iPhone interface handbook
Through its Developer Connection site, Apple has released a new design document, the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines. Also available as a PDF file, the document explains key concepts behind creating applications for the iPhone, which are only officially intended to be run via the Safari web browser. Designers must for instance adjust to the lack of multi-layered windows or a client-side file system, and instead operate solely through AJAX, HTML, CSS and built-in media player functions.
The Guidelines are broken into several sections, describing aspects such as exact dimensions for buttons and windows, how and where an iPhone is likely to be used, and Apple's guiding principles, including "simplicity," "adaptability" and "consistency." Apple places particular emphasis on this last point, suggesting that developers mimic the iPhone's native controls as closely as possible, using CSS styles as a way of conforming even standard websites to iPhone users.
The introduction of the guide contains wording, however, that suggests Apple still intends to allow installed software on iPhones eventually, despite the company having broken hacks with its 1.1.1 firmware update. Unofficial software has included everything from chat clients to game emulators. "Currently," the introduction reads, "developers create web applications for iPhone, not native applications. Therefore, this document focuses solely on the presentation of web applications and other web content on iPhone."