updated 11:40 am EDT, Wed October 17, 2007
Jobs embraces iPhone apps
Apple boss Steve Jobs today offered his official blessing of third-party iPhone and iPod touch applications in an open letter to the public, and has promised to bring a software development kit (SDK) to interested developers by February of next year. The word comes after numerous hackers leaped at the chance to run their own software on the cellular handset following its launch in late June. Some hackers simply created 'jailbreak' methods to gain read and write access to the filesystem of the iPhone, while others took their efforts to another level by unlocking the device and enabling it to work with cellular carriers other than Apple's exclusive partner -- AT&T. [updated]
"Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers' hands in February," Jobs wrote in his most recent open letter. "We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers."
Apple's CEO says the SDK's planned release in February is a result of the company's aspiration to provide an advanced and open platform to developers while also protecting iPhone users from viruses, malware, and privacy attacks.
"This is no easy task," Jobs explained. "Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones--this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous. And since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target."
The executive points to Nokia as an example of current anti-virus concerns on mobile phones, citing the fact that Nokia is not allowing users to load any applications onto some of its newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer.
"While this makes such a phone less than 'totally open,' we believe it is a step in the right direction. We are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone's amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs."
"We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones," Jobs concluded.