The iPhone opens up for business
The iPhone SDK: The day after
(Posted in One More Thing by Tom Krazit)
Twenty four hours after Apple revealed its procedure for getting third-party applications on the iPhone, developers have a few questions about the software development kit, but seem mostly satisfied.
In the immediate aftermath of Thursday's presentation at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., reaction was almost universally positive to Apple's SDK plans. Some developers had feared worse outcomes, such as having to submit their source code to Apple, and seemed willing to let Apple take a piece of their revenue and be the exclusive distributor for iPhone applications in exchange for getting a crack at the technology.
Now that everyone has moved a good mile or so away from the famed "reality-distortion field," a few tidbits regarding the SDK are coming to light. Thursday, I noted that the devil would be in the details of the SDK, namely in what types of applications Apple chose to allow on the iPhone. A day later, we're getting a better picture of that.
For example, you're not going to be able to use anything other than Apple's official APIs (application programming interfaces), notes Ken Aspeslagh (via Daring Fireball). This isn't much of a shock, but it means that a lot of techniques learned developing unofficial iPhone apps will probably not work with the official SDK.
Also, Aspelagh notes that a third-party application can't write data to another application, which is known as "sand-boxing." This is a security-influenced rule, presumably. The downer is that "the possibility of cool mashups is basically eliminated," notes Wired's Scott Gilbertson.
The SDK item drawing the most attention Friday, however, is that third-party applications will not be allowed to run in the background. TechCrunch's Mike Arrington wrote, "Instant-messaging applications (we saw a demo of an AIM version at the event today), can't run in the background and collect messages while you are doing something else. Leave the application to take a phone call, and it shows you offline."
Apple's SDK documentation (embedded in the TechCrunch post) points out that the iPhone can only display a single application screen at a time, and urges prospective developers to spend a lot of time designing an application that can handle quick stops and starts. "In other words, users should not feel that leaving your iPhone application and returning to it later is any more difficult than switching among applications on a computer."
There could be a number of reasons behind this stance, perhaps chief among them that the iPhone might not be able to support the processing demands required by multitasking, but plenty of other phones seem to be able to juggle more than one application at a time. I wonder whether future Apple-developed iPhone applications--like, say an iPhone version of iChat--will be subject to the same restrictions.
One interesting passage in the iPhone SDK documentation should give Intel something to think about. "If you have an existing computer application, don't port it to iPhone OS. People use iPhone OS-based devices very differently than they use desktop and laptop computers, and they have very different expectations for the user experience."
Intel has been pitching its upcoming lineup of x86-based Silverthorne and Moorestown processors as ideal for the next generation of mobile devices, because they can run any type of software that you can currently run on a PC. The chipmaker has a point in that if you're already familiar with x86 development process, you might find a Silverthorne chip an easier target than an ARM-based chip. But all those Mac and PC software developers will have to bring a totally different mindset to mobile development anyway. Those developers who have been doing this type of development already could have a substantial edge.
Sun will make Java work for iPhone
(Posted in NewsBlog by Erica Ogg)
After the release of the software development kit for Apple's iPhone, Sun Microsystems says it's going to enable Java applications to run on the device, InfoWorld is reporting.
Sun will build a Java Virtual Machine (JVM), based on the Java Micro Edition version of the programming language after June of this year. It will be available in the iPhone AppStore. Eric Klein, vice president of Java marketing at Sun, told InfoWorld Friday that although Apple passed on enabling Java on the iPhone, Sun decided to do so anyway after Thursday's SDK unveiling. After combing through the documents for the SDK and seeing nothing that barred it from doing so, Sun decided to go for it.
"We're going to make sure that the JVM offers the Java applications as much access to the native functionality of the iPhone as possible," Klein said.
Java on the iPhone will mean that versions of software, like customer relationship management and other enterprise applications, could be available on the device.
Advice for Apple iPhone start-ups
(Posted in NewsBlog by Stefanie Olsen)
High-flying venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers placed a US$100 million bet on Apple's iPhone on Thursday by creating the iFund.
KPCB partner Matt Murphy will manage that gamble, by heading up a team that will invest in game-changing applications for the mobile Internet. His group will include KCPB co-founder John Doerr and Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy, along with high-ranking advisers from Apple.
Murphy joined KPCB in 1999 after stints at Sun Microsystems and semiconductor start-up Netboost, which was acquired by Intel. His investment focus has long been on the mobile Internet, working closely with digital-map company Autonavi; traffic-data device maker Dash; and mobile software firm Pelago. He was previously a board observer at Google during its early days, and a director at server software company Peakstream, which was acquired by Google.
CNET News.com talked to Murphy late Thursday about his new charge and the significance of the iFund.
Can you tell me the back story of how this fund got started? And why you were chosen to lead it?
Murphy: We've been investors in mobile and wireless for a while. We've got over 20 ventures in that general market sector. More and more as we'd been seeing some of the trends evolve around mobile Internet usage, and post the launch of the iPhone--really seeing how that platform was driving leadership around usage and early Web app innovation--we started to believe that that would be the springboard for a lot of innovation on mobile networks. And that's where users who are looking for a differentiated experience would go.
Internally, somewhere on the order of three or four months ago, we started talking about...looking for entrepreneurs focused on the iPhone. And that led to a decision to approach Steve (Jobs) and Apple. They decided that they were very excited about it. I guess it firmed up about four to six weeks ago. We decided that it was a great idea for both sides.
Is this a novel fund for KCPB?
Murphy: Essentially, it's a big signal from us that we want to allocate dollars and a lot of resource to an area like this and the reason why is that platforms don't come around that often. The PC, the Internet, Java. Thinking about how enormous the mobile Internet can become, we felt we wanted to do more to signal to entrepreneurs that we wanted to work with them. And (we wanted to) do it with a company with by far the biggest platform for the mobile Internet right now.
How will you choose and vet companies?
Murphy: On the Apple Web site, there's a button for developers to submit business plans. We've done that in a structured way. Generally, when people submit plans to Kleiner, they send us an email and it might include a PowerPoint. But with this one, we're trying to make it more structured with a link from Apple or from KPCB home page and those will come in. And there's a team of partners here led by me that will go through them, and we've got a lot of resource that will take these plans and get back to entrepreneurs as fast as we can.
What do you look for in a mobile application developer? What makes them fund-worthy?
Murphy: We're not looking for fun-ware or widgets we don't feel like have the potential to be a standalone application or standalone company. We're looking for the next big ideas. If we view this as the next big platform, like we viewed the Internet, the kind of foundational companies that came out of the Internet were Amazon, Google, Netscape, etc. We want to find opportunities of that scale and magnitude. Obviously, when you invest in start-ups you never know whether they will reach those heights. But the point is to find companies that really have the potential to be a pillar company on the mobile Internet.
What do you think the average size of investments will be?
Murphy: From a stage standpoint, we'll...invest in everything from a very early seed investment to a later stage investment that has some traction and customers, maybe a little revenue, and is aligned with our thinking around the iFund.
Areas that we're looking at--the main thesis there is around finding applications that are differentiated on the mobile experience and the iPhone. (We're) not looking for things that take what's on the Internet and port it over to what's on the mobile phone, but really taking into account that it's a different device.
When I'm on my mobile phone, I'm out and about, and I might want to look for something, buy something, share something, and (we're looking for) applications that take advantage of that serendipitous, in-the-moment behavior. That could be across social networking, mobile commerce, entertainment, or gaming. And even communications tools.
What about enterprise?
Murphy: It's definitely interesting. The enterprise outside of email has lagged in terms of getting broader application adoption. The fact that the iPhone is now going to sync seamlessly with Exchange makes it even more important of a business tool. It's going to be very easy for people to add rich applications for the enterprise on top of that.
So you will be looking at funding enterprise companies?
Murphy: For sure. We're looking at companies that solve the largest addressable consumer need, and that's consumers as individuals and in enterprises.
Doerr joked at the announcement that US$100 million would fund like four Google's, but how many investments do you realistically plan to make?
Murphy: It's hard to say. Some of it depends on the stage and how much money each of the investments take. But the other important point John made is that if $100 million isn't enough, we can allocate more capital to the initiative. There's not really a hard stop on it.
It's hard to say between doing seed investments as small as US$500,000 to US$1 million up to doing investments that could be more than US$10 million. We're so enthusiastic about the area that I don't think the fund size will be the limit to stuff we can do.
We're primarily Series A investors at Kleiner and that still remains our sweet spot, but the aperture is more wide open to find the best applications companies irrespective of stage in this initiative.
How much input will Apple have into iFund awards?
Basically, we want their strategic and marketing insight on what they think their users will find interesting. We'll all be able to see data around what's taking off and what's not... and where they see demand from their customer set. Then when companies are in the iFund, making sure that they're taking advantage of the collaborative relationship we have with Apple to be successful in terms of technical and marketing support.
Will you have Jobs' input?
Murphy: (Laughs.) We've got really broad support at the key executive level around the iPhone and iPod Touch. All of the executives are very excited about doing this together.
Apple is notorious for being difficult to deal with. Some start-ups complain about trying to comply with their licensing programs, about getting shelf space in Apple stores. What does that mean for your iFund companies?
Murphy: The iFund is a collaborative initiative. I think it bodes well for iFund companies to have Apple's help and support. Given the relationship at the most senior of executive levels on their side and from a core set of partners here, it's going to be pretty easy to cut through what may be a typical frustrated (experience). I certainly don't know any cases of this.
Will you invest in existing mobile developers creating applications for other phones?
We're very focused on companies that are aligned with us around the iPhone. It's hard to imagine a company at this stage going after the mobile environment not wanting to develop to the iPhone platform. If someone is currently supporting a different platform yet is philosophically aligned with us on the importance of the iPhone and that that is a big priority for them, then yes.
There are funds that have emerged to just invest in Facebook application makers. I wonder how you think that compares to what you're doing with the iPhone?
Murphy: I understand that Facebook is a platform, although I don't think it's a platform that cuts across quite as broadly as the mobile Internet. That's 3 billion users on mobile phones, 1 billion on the Internet.
What we're focused on in the iFund is finding companies that are going to provide the best user experience, instead of just applications, on the best platform that ultimately will go after this 3 billion subscriber base. I view iPhone as the best platform of the mobile Internet.
The mobile Internet is going to be huge--and how many, many people are accessing the Internet all around the world. The early companies that establish leadership on the iPhone platform are well positioned to have a big impact on an enormous user base and not relegated to being a widget company. We're not interested in widget companies.
Why such a big bet on Apple, when there are other smart phone makers?
Murphy: The best way to look at that is that the best developers are going to go to the best platform... and address that user base first, and get deep and highly valued interaction going. And then later on they can branch out in all different ways, just like any company in any medium. If you're an enterprise company you might first address the financial services, but eventually you're going to sell to other verticals as those markets mature. What we have here is a differentiated platform in the iPhone that is the best place to do this.
Are there companies in your portfolio that make for good candidates for the iFund and Apple platform?
Murphy: There's four companies that will work closely with the iFund initiative. I call out Pelago specifically as an application that's going to launch in a couple of months that's very focused on the iPhone, and (which) we're really calling as part of the iFund.
The product name is called Whrrl (in beta now) and it's about social discovery--finding people, places, things, and events in the physical world through the eyes of your social network. And doing that with the power of the mobile phone, like having location enablement so it knows where you are.
That's the kind of app that's going to be amazing on the iPhone and it's really taking advantage of the behaviors of the mobile phone and optimizing that experience on the mobile phone.
FAQ: What does the iPhone SDK mean?
(Posted by Jennifer Guevin)
As expected, Apple Thursday unveiled a software development kit for its iPhone. The SDK dramatically expands what business users and consumers can do with their mobile devices.
What is the iPhone SDK?
The iPhone SDK is a software development kit that will allow third parties to create applications that can run directly on the iPhone and the iPod Touch. The kit is significant because Apple can't possibly anticipate, nor produce, all the applications that people might want to use on an iPhone. And some of those applications will convince people who weren't sure about the iPhone to buy it.
When will it be available?
A beta version is scheduled to be released Thursday. The official iPhone SDK and the update for the iPod Touch will ship in June 2008. Certain types of enterprise developers will apparently have access to the official SDK prior to its formal release, although details are sketchy on exactly how that will work.
How much does it cost?
The iPhone SDK beta can be downloaded for free today. Developers will be required to join the iPhone developer program, which allows developers to test their code, get tech support, and distribute their applications. That will cost US$99 a year. A separate developer's program for developers that want to build in-house corporate applications will cost US$299 a year. Apple will charge for the update to the iPod Touch as a result of the accouting treatment used for that product but hasn't said yet how much that will cost.
Have any applications already been developed for the iPhone?
Over a thousand Web applications are listed on Apple's Web site. And perhaps hundreds of unofficial applications have been created using so-called "jailbreaking" software. But the applications demonstrated today are the first official third-party applications shown by Apple.
Apple gave an advanced copy of the software development kit to developers from various companies to see what they could build in a few weeks. Apple showed off several of the resulting applications during Steve Jobs' speech on Thursday. Those applications appear to be conceptual models for now, as the companies will probably go back and take more time before releasing final versions.
They include Touch FX, which adds Photo Booth-style effects to a photo using your finger on the iPhone touch screen; Touch Fighter, the first official game for the iPhone; a mobile version of Electronic Arts' video game Spore; a Salesforce.com management application; an iPhone version of AOL instant messenger; a medical records app from Epocrates; and an iPhone version of Sega's video game Super Monkey Ball.
How will development for the iPhone work?
Anyone can download the SDK and develop an application, but you have to join Apple's iPhone Developer Program, and Apple is only accepting a "limited" number of applications at the moment. The application development process will be very similar to how applications are developed for Mac OS X.
Applications will be distributed through Apple's newly announced App Store, which will be built in to the iPhone but is also accessible through iTunes. Apple plans on personally approving every application destined for the iPhone.
The applications are wirelessly downloaded to the iPhone over either EDGE or Wi-Fi. Developers name the price of their applications themselves and get 70 percent of the revenue from sales of their apps; Apple gets 30 percent. Free applications will be listed for free on the App Store and iTunes.
Can developers work on a PC?
No, the SDK will only work on Macs.
Can developers distribute their own iPhone apps?
No, the only way to develop official applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch is to go through Apple's process.
Where's the 3G model?
Apple said it wasn't addressing any hardware questions during today's event. Analysts expect one by midyear.
Will jailbreak still work?
The jailbreaking community will probably have to examine the new software update and revise its methods, but it will probably put in the effort to do so, because Apple does not plan to allow an official software application that would unlock the iPhone from its designated networks.
How will Apple address security?
Developers will have to electronically sign their applications to participate in the program, allowing Apple to track them down if a malicious application makes it through the gauntlet of Apple's approval process. Since the App Store is the only place where applications can be obtained, Apple can shut off the App Store if a malicious application is in the wild.
What new business features were introduced?
Apple has licensed Microsoft's ActiveSync protocol, which will allow the iPhone to wirelessly sync corporate e-mails, contacts, and calendar information quickly and safely with their corporate servers. The upcoming software release will also introduce Cisco's IPSec VPN for secure connections and the 802.1x security standard for improved Wi-Fi security.
What will this mean for Apple and the iPhone?
Apple will now be able to pitch the iPhone against the BlackBerry, the leading smartphone in North America, by emphasizing the new business features. And the new applications could provide potential customers with all sorts of new reasons to buy an iPhone.
Live blog from Apple's iPhone SDK announcement
(Posted in One More Thing by Tom Krazit)
CUPERTINO, Calif.--We're here at Apple's headquarters for the company's announcement of its iPhone software development kit. The event started just after 10am PT. What follows is a live blog of CEO Steve Jobs' speech, with updates appearing in reverse-chronological order.
11:47am: That's it. Apple has unveiled its plan for iPhone applications, and it's actually a bit more permissible than some might have thought earlier this week. As expected, the company will control distribution and use an electronic-signature method, but it sounds as if far more types of applications than thought will be permitted. The devil, of course, is in those details, and that will become more apparent as developers get a chance to play with the SDK. Thanks for reading our live coverage. We'll follow up later in the day with more on the iPhone SDK, which is due out in late June, and the new enterprise features.
Q: Do you have any plans for letting developers interface with dock-connected accessories?
A: Forstall fields this one. "In iPhone 2.0, there will not be APIs for developers to talk to dock-connected devices." It's basically going to be the same as the Made for iPod program.
Q: What is the relationship with the carrier? Up until now, applications have been released through the carrier.
A: "We have great relationships with our carriers, and we struck a new relationship with our carriers, where Apple is responsible for the software on the phone," Jobs says. It doesn't sound as if the carriers will get a piece of the revenue from iPhone applications.
Q: What made you change your mind from last year, and how are the apps going to be managed in the store? Will there be a waiting period?
A: "Well, we all at Apple change our minds from time to time, but I don't know what you're talking about." He's reminded of the Web app decision presented last June, and he notes that "developers gave us feedback that they wanted to do a lot more. Creating an SDK is a lot of work; once you give it to developers, you want to (be able to) live with it for the next 20 years."
11:40am: Forstall brings up that parental controls will be released with the 2.0 software update, so parents can prevent YouTube or Safari from being used.
Q: Is this an international rollout?
11:37am: A question about IT policies sets off some more RIM bashing, with respect to the NOC and the outages that have crept up in the past. Jobs notes that this is "a single point of failure" but also that there are security implications of having the email go through a central space.
Q: How much will the upgrade cost for the iPod Touch, and will you have to change the accounting treatment?
A: Jobs goes through the accounting treatment again. Apple recognizes the iPhone revenue over two years, but the iPod Touch revenue is all recognized up front. That means that Apple has to assign a value to major upgrades, such as the 2.0 software. Jobs says the cost of the iPod Touch upgrade won't be revealed until the update is ready to ship in June, but "we're not trying to make money off this."
Q: Will SIM or carrier-unlocking software that makes the iPhone usable on carriers other than the one it's released with be excluded from the App Store?
Scott Forstall, Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller take questions from the press following the address.
(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks)
Q: Doesn't the fact that Apple is going to be the exclusive distributor for the applications raise questions of monopoly? What if developers don't want to work with Apple?
A: "Then they won't get their application on the iPhone." Jobs thinks people will want to do it their way at first, and developers will be happy to piggyback on Apple's brand and distribution method. "We don't intend to make money off the App Store," Jobs says, comparing it to the iTunes Music Store.
Q: How likely do you think it is that a VoIP application will be developed?
A: "The initial take is that we will only limit VoIP over the cellular net, but not over the Wi-Fi network." That might change, Jobs says. But for now, no VoIP over AT&T's EDGE, which makes sense.
Q: What sort of safeguards did you use to make sure the applications will be secure?
A: This is a big concern, Jobs says. "We've tried to strike a really good path here. On one side, you've got a closed device like the iPhone, and on the other side, you've got a Windows PC, where people spend a lot of time just getting it up to speed." Apple has done that through a developer registration program, which is mandatory. Apple is using the electronic-certificate method, in which developers can be tracked when they release an application. If it's a malicious one, Apple can "shut off the spigot," if need be, turning off the App Store.
Q: What does the US$100 million do for the iFund community?
A: Jobs says you should go ask them, referring to the iFund's financial backers. "We're not sending them a message; we're sending customers and developers a message. The iPhone has been out for less than a year. This stuff is going to be shipping right around a year."
11:18am: Jobs closes the official event. The press is being invited to stick around for a few minutes to ask some questions, so we'll hang out a while longer.
11:17am: "Today, we're witnessing history--the creation of the third great platform," Doerr says, referring to Apple's other businesses, the Mac and iPod. "It's bigger than the personal computer." Matt Murphy and Bill Joy, among others, will be involved in the iFund. "If you want to invent the future, the iFund wants to help you build it."
KPCB has created the US$100 million iFund for the iPhone platform.
(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks)
11:15am: Today, KPCB is announcing the iFund for the iPhone platform. Presumably, the investment firm cleared that name with Apple's legal department. Doerr is going to put US$100 million into the iFund, which should be enough to start "about four Googles," he jokes.
11:14am: Jobs introduces Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers' John Doerr. Doerr says he really loves "Apple entrepreneurs." Doerr starts talking about Jobs' entrepreneurial arc--from Apple to Pixar to Next--calling Jobs "the world's greatest entrepreneur," to a round of applause.
11:12am: And the fabled "One more thing..." makes an appearance.
11:11am: Want to be a developer? Download the iPhone SDK for free. Macs only. There's also going to be an iPhone developer program, which allows you to test your code, get tech support, and distribute your applications. That costs US$99.
11:11am: The same software release will run on the iPod Touch. All the games and applications will run on that, and the enterprise features are different. Jobs confirms that the accounting policies for the iPod Touch are different, and so Apple plans to charge for that software update. In January, Apple charged US$19.99 for an iPod Touch software update.
11:10am: You'll get all this stuff through the 2.0 software update. That delivers the SDK and the enterprise capabilities, and a beta test version is going to be released today. It will ship officially in late June, and it's a free software update.
11:09am: "Will there be limitations?" Jobs asked. "Of course." Sorry, pervs. Jobs says no iPhone porn. He doesn't bring up any other limitations, however, leaving a little bit of wiggle room on what will be approved.
11:08am: The developer picks the price of his or her application. The developer gets 70 percent of the revenue off the top; Apple gets 30 percent. No credit card, hosting, or marketing fees. The revenues are paid monthly, and Jobs calls it "the best deal going." There is no charge to the developer if you want to make a free application.
11:07am: Of course, this will also be in iTunes. "But we think most people are probably going to use their iPhone and just do it over the air to their iPhone," Jobs says. The App Store will prompt iPhone users if a new version of the application is released, and it will wirelessly download the application. This, however, will be the exclusive way to distribute iPhone applications.
The App Store is built into the iPhone.
(Credit: Corinne Schulze)
11:05am: The App Store is built into the iPhone, so you can search applications by popularity, title, or genre of application, sort of like in the Wi-Fi Music Store. The applications are wirelessly downloaded to the iPhone over either EDGE or Wi-Fi. That's much, much easier than was rumored.
11:05am: Developers want to get their applications in front of every iPhone user, Jobs says. He says that's a difficult task, but Apple's got a solution: The App Store. This is an Apple-developed application designed for the iPhone to distribute applications directly to the iPhone. This is not what previous reports suggested--that iTunes would be the one-stop shopping mall for iPhone applications.
11:03am: So, how do those applications get on the iPhone? Jobs is going to handle that one.
11:02am: Sega is the last developer brought in early to play with the SDK. Ethan Einhorn is Sega's representative, and he shows off Super Monkey Ball. It's sort of like a skiing game, where you hurtle down a ramp trying to get bananas and such. It uses the accelerometer for control, just like the Apple-designed game. Sega actually found that it had to upgrade the graphics from the console version so the application would look better on the iPhone.
10:59am: Epocrates is the next showcase developer, making software for medical professionals. Glenn Keighley shows off what it's created. Keighley's been a mobile developer for a while, but he says the iPhone development was almost like developing for a desktop. The company was able to build a native application that can access an SQL database for accessing medical information, pictures of pills, and checking whether a new prescription will have an adverse effect on a patient who is already taking a bunch of other drugs.
10:56am: Fire up AIM for iPhone, and you get a buddy list. This was Sattar's first experience developing for a Mac, and he built the buddy list interface in five days. A simple conversation is easy enough, but most of us maintain multiple IM conversations. You can switch between conversations with a swipe of the finger, as if you're scrolling through photos on the iPhone. You can also upload photos from your iPhone to serve as your buddy icon.
AIM for iPhone.
(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks)
10:54am: AOL is next. Rizwan Sattar will demonstrate what AOL has done in two weeks: AIM for iPhone.
10:53am: Salesforce created an application for the iPhone that does more than you can do with its Web-based business management application. For instance, it can talk to Maps to plot directions to your next appointment, figure out how many more widgets you need to sell to make your quota, and lots of other stuff. Salesforce did this with one person in fewer than two weeks.
10:50am: I guess we're not totally done with the business stuff: Salesforce.com is next. Chuck Dietrich of Salesforce comes on stage to demonstrate what his company did.
Travis Boatman, VP of worldwide studios at EA Mobile.
(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks)
10:46am: Apple invited in some third-party developers a few weeks ago to start playing with the iPhone SDK, to see what other developers could do with the technology in two weeks. Electronic Arts' Travis Boatman, vice president of worldwide studios at EA Mobile, gets on stage to demonstrate the game developer's application, which, believe it or not, is a mobile version of Spore.
10:44am: You can record a test of the application on your Mac, allowing you to reproduce application behavior to make sure that it works. This took Apple two weeks and fewer than 10,000 lines of code, Forstall says.
10:43am: Touch Fighter is the first official game for the iPhone, developed by Apple engineers. It uses OpenGL. You're flying a Star Wars X-Fighter through space, steering by using the iPhone like a pretend control wheel, with both hands on the side. Drop your left hand to turn left, like you're driving a car. This is pretty slick stuff. The accelerometer opens up all kinds of development possibilities, which is a necessity because there are no physical buttons on the iPhone.
A gaming application that is motion-sensitive. Your iPhone is the controller.
(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks)
10:41am: Another more complicated application called Touch FX is being demonstrated. It's sort of like adding Photo Booth-style effects to a photo using your finger on the iPhone touch screen. Pinch or tap to introduce fun house mirror-style effects. Want to erase your doodlings? Shake the phone. Developers can treat the accelerometer like a button.
10:37am: Forstall demos the native application development process on a Mac. It's basically like an iPhone superimposed on the desktop, so you can mimic the iPhone experience on the Mac. Scott starts building a new project from scratch, a simple program called "Hello, World," a common Programming 101 exercise.
An application made so that you can use the touch screen to manipulate people's faces. You can erase the manipulations by shaking the phone.
(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks)
10:34am: Xcode, Interface Builder, and Instruments are all Mac development tools enhanced for the iPhone. But Apple has also created an iPhone simulator, which means that you can run the iPhone application on a Mac in the simulator, so you can get a sense for how the application will perform, as well as catch coding errors.
The iPhone simulator.
(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks)
10:32am: You'll have to have a user interface for your application, and Apple has created something called Interface Builder. A drag-and-drop feature for the development environment can help you build the application's look and feel. It supports language localization, as well.
10:30am: So how exactly is this development going to work? Forstall starts talking about Xcode, the development environment for Mac OS X. That works here too, giving developers tools to write and manage code developed for the iPhone. It seems, at least at this point, that iPhone development will be very familiar to anyone who has developed applications for the Mac.
10:28am: Cocoa Touch is totally unique. Apple built unique multitouch controls and also needed to program a way to access the accelerometer. Developers will have access to the accelerometer, which will be a delight for game developers. "We think we're years ahead of any other platform for mobile devices," Forstall said.
10:26am: Software development is a little outside my normal comfort zone (I've been more of a hardware guy) but we're getting a deep dive into the iPhone's OS X, which Apple has never done before in public. The Core Services layer is next on Forstall's list. It also uses several of the regular Mac OS X features, which you can also get from the Media Layer. We're talking about things like Core Audio, but Apple also built things like OpenAL, designed to deliver "three-dimensional" sound for games.
Apple's Scott Forstall talks about the iPhone's Core OS.
(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks)
10:24am: The iPhone's OS X uses the same OS X kernel as Mac OS X, optimized for a mobile experience. The networking layer is also the same, as well as the power management techniques used for Apple's notebooks. It's a little more sophisticated, however, as OS X uses something called "automatic power management" to regulate the power demanded by the iPhone's software.
10:22am: The iPhone's OS uses the bottom three layers of the Mac OS X software stack, the core OS, the core services, and the media layer. That's what was included in the first releases. But Cocoa, the application-programming framework, required a little tweaking to work with the touch-screen interface. Hence Cocoa Touch, the unique programming interface for the iPhone.
10:21am: "Starting today, we're opening up the same native APIs and tools that we use internally to build all our iPhone applications." It's the same SDK used by Apple to build iPhone applications, especially the APIs. APIs, or application-programming interfaces, enable applications to talk to the underlying hardware and operating system.
10:20am: "I'm here to tell you about how developers can build great applications for the iPhone," Forstall said. He starts off, however, with the Web applications, which Apple initially said presented the best way to build applications for the iPhone back at its developer conference last June. Developers were less than enthused, but it's true that these days, you can build lots of interesting Web applications that don't require native access to the computer. Scott singles out Facebook and Bank of America, saying the iPhone accounts for 25 percent of all mobile online banking for BofA.
10:18am: "These are the features customers have asked for to make the iPhone a big hit in businesses, universities," and other places around the world, Schiller said. "Now it's addressing the needs of the enterprise as well. That's it for the enterprise features; now Scott Forstall will address the SDK.
Phil Schiller takes the stage.
(Credit: Corinne Schulze)
10:16am: Schiller demonstrates the remote-wiping feature, which appears to disable the iPhone. That part went really quickly. I'll try to figure out later what, exactly, happens when you "remote-wipe" an iPhone.
10:14am: Apple appears to have packed the auditorium with employees, who are very enthusiastically applauding every successful demonstration of a new feature. Either that, or the press corps is really, really excited.
10:13am: Schiller starts demoing the new features. He's using a virgin iPhone, demonstrating how you would activate the functionality with Exchange. You can do the whole thing over the air, which is very helpful for IT administrators: you won't have to go collect every iPhone that needs that feature. Email, contacts, and calendar are automatically pushed from your desktop to your iPhone upon setup. As far as I understand, many devices, such as my Treo and BlackBerrys, also offer over-the-air setup; it's almost a requirement in the IT world.
10:10am: You'll soon get push email, calendaring, contacts, and a global contacts list, as well as the remote-wipe security feature. The iPhone's Mail application will have this functionality; you won't have to have a new user interface for e-mail and calendars. This will ship with every iPhone.
10:08am: Schiller starts ripping on the BlackBerry, without actually mentioning it, of course. He's referring to the use of a NOC, or network network operations center, "which adds to risk and reliability, as we've seen from time to time." The crowd of CrackBerry enthusiasts chuckles.
10:07am: What do they really want? Microsoft Exchange. And they're getting it: Schiller announces that Apple has licensed the Microsoft ActiveSync protocol, which will make it much easier to do push e-mail and contacts with Exchange servers.
10:07am: So, what do businesses want? "Great email integration," says Schiller. That also extends to calendars, contacts, and the global address lists of corporations--having that technology instantly accessible and pushed to the device. They also want security policies, like VPNs and remote wiping of a stolen iPhone, and configuration help. "I'm really excited to be the one to tell you today that we're doing all these things in the next release of the iPhone software."
10:04am: Schiller starts talking about the companies that have inquired about working with the iPhone, mentioning Genentech, where Apple board member Art Levinson is CEO. It's also been a university play, according to Schiller, bringing up Stanford University's deployment of the iPhone. He avoids mentioning Duke, which initially blamed the iPhone for a widespread network outage last year.
10:03am: Jobs is going to be joined on stage by Phil Schiller, senior vice president of marketing, and Scott Forstall, vice president of iPhone software. Schiller comes on stage to handle the enterprise portion of the conference.
Steve Jobs addresses the crowd.
(Credit: Corinne Schulze, CNET Networks)
10:01am: Steve Jobs enters--standard outfit. "We're really excited to share some great news with you about the iPhone software road map." He rattles off a few iPhone stats from the early days of the product, quoting the Canalys numbers for smartphone share in the United States, which puts the iPhone in second place, behind Research In Motion.
10am PST: Apple's special event today in Cupertino is about to get started, as a couple hundred people are gathered inside Apple's Town Hall auditorium at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. We're waiting to hear how Apple plans to handle third-party application development for the iPhone, as well as to learn about new business-friendly features. Props to Apple this time around for the power strips, but come on guys, it's 2008. Wi-Fi is a proven technology.
The crowd awaits Steve Jobs' keynote address at the iPhone software event.
(Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks)
Apple continues to run the iPhone show
(Posted in Crave by Kent German)
From the moment Apple announced iPhone, predictions were rampant that it would be the cell phone that would change the mobile world forever. As it turns out, the "Jesus phone" predictions were a little overblown, but indeed the iPhone has shaken the US cell phone business to its core. And I'm not talking about the hardware side here; rather, I'm referring to the basic structure of the entire industry.
Thursday at the iPhone SDK event, one attendee asked an intriguing question at the end of the program. "What is the relationship with the carrier? Up until now, apps have been released through the carrier." In response, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: "We have great relationships with our carriers, and we struck a new relationship with our carriers where Apple is responsible for the software on the phone."
It can't be stated enough just how significant that "new relationship" is and just how game changing it is. For much of its life, the process of selling a cell phone in the United States went like this. A manufacturer would introduce a handset and then offer it to a carrier. The interested carrier would test the phone for its network, strip out any features or software it didn't like or want (remember Verizon Wireless's Bluetooth-crippling days?), stamp on its logo and signature user interface, and then sell the phone at a discounted price to lure customers into a contract. Once it made the phone and sold it to the carrier, the manufacturer hardly dealt with it again. For all intents and purposes, the handset became the carrier's property and only the carrier made money off it from that point on. Not only would the carrier have an exclusive on the phone, but also the handset would be locked to that operator's network. And if customers wanted to buy new applications or services, they usually went to the carrier to do so.
Sure, I may be oversimplifying things just a bit, but US carriers ran the show on everything from the handset's design and features to its price. It's been that way for a long time and it looked like such a model would last well into the future. That is, until the iPhone came along. From the start, Apple ran this show. The company didn't cede ground to AT&T on the iPhone's design, its features, its interface, or its price. It worked with AT&T to develop the new visual voice mail system, which is unique to the iPhone. Apple even took over the handset activation process and it secured a revenue-sharing agreement where it would earn money every time an iPhone customer signs a contract.
All of this turned the normal carrier-manufacturer relationship on its head, and it's no surprise that Apple, and not AT&T, will be the source for new iPhone software and applications. For a long time, US carriers were fearful of becoming "dumb pipes." In other words, instead of being just a way for customers to access applications and services, they wanted to sell those services themselves. But Apple's entry to the space is changing that. And while customers may be changing one control freak for another, it's definitely a new game.
On a final note, it's also been fascinating to see how the iPhone has caused the federal government to take a new look at phone locking. Though that practice has been entrenched in the industry for years, the hype surrounding AT&T's exclusive on the iPhone drew criticism from members of Congress last summer. And speaking of phone locking, we also have to consider Verizon's surprising announcement in November that it would start unlocking its phones this year. While the iPhone may have nothing to do with Verizon's decision, perhaps Google's Android platform is a more likely suspect, the timing is interesting.
Dear iPhone: We still love you. Signed, Webware
(Posted in Webware by Rafe Needleman)
When the iPhone first shipped, I thought it was pretty cool that there wasn't a way for developers to write software for it. It forced people who wanted to build iPhone "apps" to create Web apps instead, which were then delivered to the iPhone via its browser. It was a great day for Webware.
But it couldn't really last. The Web is too slow, browsers too limited, AT&T's paranoia (about third-party apps running on their network) too Orwellian, and the iPhone too powerful to force developers to fit everything into Safari. Hence, Jailbreak hacks. And, finally, Apple's own version of a native software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone, announced today.
The iPhone SDK will allow developers to have access to the same cool hardware features built into the iPhone that Apple's own developers have, such as the multitouch interface and the iPhone's accelerometer. Apps can also talk to each other. For example, a Salesforce.com app can talk to the iPhone's built-in mapping app--an example discussed during the launch event for the SDK. Another example is an AIM app from AOL that supports multiple conversations that are easy to switch between.
The SDK also offers links into geolocation data, so developers can build native location-aware apps. The iPhone still doesn't have built-in GPS, relying instead of less-accurate Wi-Fi-based location, but this is a start.
So the iPhone (and also the iPod Touch) is becoming an Internet appliance, not just a Web browser. That's great. As we've seen with the release of Adobe AIR, you really can do more with online resources when you're not trying to squeeze the interface through the pipes. Hybrid apps--apps that use heavy local resources as well as relying on the Internet for data and community--make tons of sense, especially on mobile devices that are likely to move in and out of coverage areas. Once Google Gears gets up and running on the iPhone, we could see some really interesting apps that gracefully transition from connected to isolated.
Apple is leveraging the iTunes store to deliver apps to the phone. There will also be a new store, the iPhone-friendly App Store, that will handle the directories, downloads, and the collection of software licensing fees. Apple will keep 30 percent of all software purchase fees for itself (free apps can also be downloaded through the store). Most importantly, the store will be the only way to get apps (until it's hacked), and it won't be a free-for-all. Apple will not allow pornographic software and reserves the right to remove apps that pose security or privacy risks. So, the iPhone isn't a free-for-all apps platform like a personal computer. We'll see how well Apple manages to stay out of the way of developers, all of whom have to register with Apple (for US$99) to deliver apps through the store.
The iPhone SDK doesn't blow the platform all the way open, in other words. Apple will be watching over the apps to make sure they all behave. Hopefully, they'll do a good job of it. And there will always be the Web for developers who want to attract iPhone users without getting permission first.
The iPhone made easy for business customers
(Posted by Marguerite Reardon)
Apple has finally granted the wish of business users who have craved the coolness of the iPhone but couldn't live without their push work email.
Until now, iPhone users who wanted to get e-mail on their iPhones had to jump through a series of technical hoops. And as a result, a lot of business users, who would have otherwise bought the iPhone right away, have stood on the sidelines with their BlackBerrys or Windows Mobile phones drooling at the iPhone.
But now these business users will be able to get their work email on an iPhone just as easily as they can on a Windows mobile phone or a BlackBerry. On Thursday, Apple announced at an event at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., that Apple has licensed the Microsoft ActiveSync protocol, which will make it much easier to do push email and contacts with Exchange servers.
Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, demonstrated on stage how to activate and set up the Exchange function on an iPhone. The entire set up can be done over the air allowing email, contacts, and calendar information to be automatically pushed to a device.
The announcement is a huge deal for Apple, because it eliminates one of the barriers the company faced in addressing the business market. It also made the iPhone more appealing to a group known as prosumers, people who buy their own cell phones for personal use, but also access some business applications, such as corporate email, on their phones.
Right now, Research in Motion dominates the business smartphone market with over two-thirds of its 12 million customers coming from businesses and government. Large businesses bought in early to RIM's push email system, which requires large companies to have all their e-mail routed through RIM's own servers. For the most part, RIM's BlackBerry email service has been a huge success. But there are signs that the company's dominance could be vulnerable. In the past six months RIM has experienced at least two major outages where emails were not forwarding to BlackBerry devices in a timely manner.
Blackberry's co-CEO Jim Balsillie said a day after the last outage that he wasn't too worried about the outage affecting its relationship with business customers. But as Apple makes it easier for corporate customers to get email on the iPhone, he may reconsider.
With new iPhone software, Apple breaks from the pack
(Posted in One More Thing by Tom Krazit)
By the time Apple officially releases the OS X 2.0 update in June, there will be no doubt that the iPhone will have turned both the personal computing and mobile communications industries on their head in just one year.
Let's be clear: Apple didn't invent the concept of the smartphone. People have been making calls, checking corporate email, surfing the Internet, watching videos, and playing games on handheld devices for years. What Apple has done, however, is put together the most complete and compelling combination of those features and wrapped it with a breakthrough in user interface design.
The enterprise-friendly features and roadmap for third-party applications unveiled Thursday at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters bring Apple two steps closer to that point. And when the final piece--the 3G iPhone--arrives at some point in the upcoming future, Apple will have developed the first truly mobile computer.
At least, for now. Will all mobile developers find it as easy to build iPhone applications as the five developers highlighted during Thursday's event? Does the addition of push email make the iPhone more attractive than the BlackBerry? And how soon will it be before the rest of the world figures out Apple's secret: It's the software, stupid. The answers to those questions will dictate the second chapter of the iPhone.
Let's review what was introduced Thursday. The new enterprise features are a slam dunk. Licensing Microsoft's ActiveSync is a move as important to the growth of the iPhone as developing a version of iTunes for Windows was for growth of the iPod. iPhone users will now have secure and reliable access to Microsoft's widely used Exchange email server, turning their iPhone into an extension of their desktop.
No one will be able to say, after the release of OS X 2.0, that the iPhone isn't suitable for businesses. It will have a laundry list of enterprise features, starting with ActiveSync. That protocol allows for the secure, wireless syncing of email, calendars, and contacts data. It turns the iPhone into a BlackBerry or Treo.
IT departments cautiously testing the iPhone waters will also be able to breathe easier with features like Cisco's IPSec virtual private network technology (IPSec is an encryption standard), "remote wipe" technology that can erase sensitive data if an iPhone is lost or stolen, and better wireless security with 802.1x support.
This is an unquestioned win for Apple in the enterprise, as IT managers will get almost everything they want in a mobile business device. Software developers might not be quite so ecstatic at their portion of Thursday's news, but it could have been worse.
Developers swarmed Apple's Web site in the immediate aftermath of the company's presentation, trying to get more information and to download a beta version of the SDK. Several Apple blogs reported very slow load times on Apple's developer Web pages.
Developers will get access to the iPhone for US$99 a year, as part of Apple's iPhone Developer Program. The program, however, will only be available to US developers at first, and only "a limited number" of developers at that. Apple declined to elaborate on the exact definition of "limited." A separate US$299 "enterprise" developer program will be available for corporations creating in-house applications.
Cocoa Touch is the key
The actual development process itself should be very familiar to anyone who has developed a Mac application in the past, as Apple's in-depth presentation on OS X confirmed that the mobile operating system shares many of the same underpinnings as Mac OS X. The difference, however, is a tweaked version of Cocoa, Apple's programming environment, called Cocoa Touch.
Cocoa Touch is the key to iPhone applications. It will allow developers to take advantage of the touchscreen interface that has been key to early iPhone demand. EA's Spore and Apple's Touch Fighter games demonstrated just what innovative developers will be able to do with that technology.
But while the games should be interesting, there are countless other possibilities. I was struck by ,Epocrates' concept applications involving the iPhone as a diagnostic instrument, allowing doctors to check for drug interactions, obtain patient history, or even check the picture of an unknown pill against a database of pills.
As expected, Apple is going to control the distribution of the applications through either the iTunes Store or the App Store, which will allow iPhone users to wirelessly download applications. Apple gets a 30 percent cut of the revenue of any iPhone or iPod Touch application sold through the stores, which sounds like a lot to me but apparently didn't faze some developers. Free applications will be listed free of charge on the App Store.
An Apple representative confirmed that the company will certify every application made available through the App Store. That will be a ton of work--and might explain why participation will be limited at first--but Apple CEO Steve Jobs said it's necessary to ensure security and reliability. All applications will have to be electronically signed by their developers, a process similar to what is required by Symbian, the most widely used smartphone operating system.
The devil, as always, will be in the details of that application certification program. Wireless unlocking applications? Of course not, Jobs said. But voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software will be permitted, he said, so long as it only uses the Wi-Fi chip for communication, not the EDGE cellular network.
So where will Apple draw the line? This was perhaps the key unanswered question from Thursday's presentation. Apple seems open to quite a few different types of applications, but if it's planning to certify them individually, some patterns might emerge and provide some hints of where Apple wants to go with its own software applications. As developers get their hands on the beta SDK, I expect a lot more of those questions to be answered, at least in part.
A wide-open race
To me, the most interesting thing about the development of the smartphone industry is the wide-open nature of the race. This time around, a winner is not going to be picked in the early stages of the competition. Several huge important companies--Apple, Microsoft, Google, Nokia, RIM, and don't forget about Palm just yet--have already had an impact on the development of the product, and will continue to do so well into the future.
Despite sitting out the first few years, Apple has arguably vaulted ahead of its competition in just 12 months. The other players in this industry came into smartphones building them for businesspeople and their IT masters. Then they tried to woo the consumer.
Apple has done the complete opposite, hooking those who had never used a smartphone before with the iPhone's interface, and now giving them the opportunity to use it for both work and play.
The first era of the mobile-computing industry was about hardware. The second part will be about software. And right now, no one is developing mobile software like Apple.
Round up of iPhone applications
(Posted by Erica Ogg)
The long-awaited iPhone software development kit, which will be released in June, was finally unveiled Thursday.
And with it came a few applications, developed in a couple weeks by some very high-profile names in tech. Apple demonstrated seven new applications in a variety of categories: business, communications, and games.
See my colleague Tom Krazit's blow-by-blow chronicling of the event as it unfolded in Cupertino on Thursday morning.
CNET News.com's Tom Krazit contributed to this report.
Apple takes iPhone corporate in a big way
(Posted in ZDNet's Between the Lines by Larry Dignan)
Apple has given technology managers their iPhone wish list in full in an effort to make its phone more business friendly. The mission: Lure enough enterprises to the iPhone so Apple can hit its 10 million unit goal by the end of 2008.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs kicked off the company's iPhone SDK event in Cupertino, Calif. with a few remarks, but really let Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, do a lot of the enterprise heavy lifting. See Engadget and News.com for live coverage (event just ended) and Apple’s statement.
In a nutshell, Schiller noted some enterprise wins such as Genentech using a fleet of iPhones and Stanford also having hundreds of iPhones. Schiller also noted the hurdles with enterprise iPhone adoption: Push email, security policies etc. Then Schiller promised to deliver on the corporate IT wish list by making the iPhone:
It's safe to say the iPhone is open for business now.
What's notable about that final Exchange point is that the two companies collaborated on making Exchange Server work better with the iPhone (see photo above, credit News.com's Corinne Schulze). This collaboration also occurred on the back end so that iPhone users will still use the same email, calendar and contact apps they do today. Just as an aside: Why can't these two do this for corporate email? Entourage for the Mac is a sick joke.
But I digress.
Another notable item is the remote wipe feature, which most corporate phones have. Remote wipe was a big concern for security professionals pondering the iPhone.
Scott Forstall, VP of iPhone software, also outlined the SDK, which was the real reason folks showed up. Although we're more interested in the corporate applications. In a nutshell, Apple is opening up its iPhone APIs to third party developers. This move should bring in more corporate uses eventually.
Forstall noted that the architecture is built on the same OS X kernel. Among the key highlights:
From a corporate perspective what will be notable if big application vendors such as Oracle and SAP get into the iPhone act. An ERP in your hand application could go along way to convincing any iPhone fence sitters to fall Apple's way. Salesforce.com demonstrated a few applications for the iPhone, but that was to be expected.
And then the next big item to watch is the enterprise halo effect, which will take a few quarters and years to play out. Are Apple's moves good enough for you to turn your company into iPhone fans?
Other odds and ends:
With the ability now to sync Outlook information over the air, the iPhone has possibly become a more attractive proposition for business users.
Rarely does a product generate so much buzz even before it is available, no thanks to his Jobness. Here's a full timeline of what has happened. Click away.