Apple releases the iPhone SDK
Well, there you have it - Apple has made public the iPhone SDK and now developers of all walks of life can hop on and develop native applications for one of the most hyped mobile phones currently. Not so fast though, as while the developing may begin now, all those apps will be pushed to customers no earlier than late June 2008.
The SDK tools and a bunch of tutorials are already available at Apple's developer website. For those of you that have their hands itching - you might just download all the available stuff and have a go for free. You would have all the needed tools and you can run and test your applications on an iPhone simulator.
Developers will have access to the same "Cocoa Touch" framework and all other APIs used by Apple for iPhone software development. Features include hardware-accelerated 3D graphics, location-enabled apps and full access to all the media capabilities of the iPhone. The 3-axis accelerometer is also under your command.
However if you wish to get serious, you might as well join the iPhone Developer Program for a total of USD 99 per year. For that kind of money you would get to test your apps on actual iPhones, you would receive free technical support and you will be able to distribute your apps to the iPhone users around the world once the Apple distribution system is up.
Now about that distribution system - Apple are in fact calling it AppStore. It would be the exclusive way of delivering your apps to the masses. You as a developer would pick the price for your work and Apple would pay 70% of that price based on your monthly sales through the AppStore. Should you decide that you want to release some of your apps for free - it's all your call, they would be available for free with no charge to the users.
Users will be able to browse, search and install applications either through the iPhone itself (EDGE or Wi-Fi) or through the iTunes software and then load them on the iPhone. Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, also confirmed that Apple will be allowing the development of VoIP applications that work via Wi-Fi - that alone is an awesome feature to have on any mobile phone.
The iPhone AppStore however will be made available to the masses somewhere in late June 2008 with a new major software update to the iPhone - the 2.0 software version. iPhone users would get the 2.0 update for free, while iPod Touch users will have to again pay a moderate fee for accounting purposes - not really fare, but at least iPod Touch users are guaranteed that all the great features discussed here will apply to their devices also. Chosen developers that join the Apple's iPhone Developer Program will be able to get a beta of the 2.0 software update in question right now so that they can test their apps the way they are meant to be used.
The only downside to it all is that you can unleash your developing frenzy only if you own an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS Leopard. And also, the paid participation to the iPhone Developer program is currently limited to US only at least for several months.
Beside that, Apple are also bringing another major functionality with the iPhone 2.0 software and it's about corporate clients using Microsoft Exchange servers. The new software update will bring the Microsoft ActiveSync protocol that would allow corporate iPhones to sync directly to the company servers allowing features such as:
- Push email
- Push calendar
- Push contacts
- Global address list
- Cisco IPsec VPN support
- User Certificates and Identities
- WPA2/802.1x corporate Wi-Fi security support
- Remote device configuration
- Remote device information wipe
Corporate users will benefit by this new connectivity option using the well-known iPhone Calendar, Email client and Contacts list. That's a bit sad since these three core applications really need some polishing up since they lack some vital features such as search, multiple "mark as read", copy/paste and etc.
All those new changes and possibilities however sound really exciting but for now they are just that - future features put on paper. That's why Apple decided to spice things up a bit with several demos of possible new applications.
First off, it was a showcase of several games. The Touch Fighter is a 3D space shooter developed by Apple itself. Your spaceship is controlled by tilting the iPhone itself thanks to the built-in accelerometer (think Wii). You shoot objects just by tapping on the screen. Electronic Arts have also developed a demo game with the SDK - an iPhone version of their Spore game. You direct the little organism by tilting the iPhone, while customizing of its looks is done with screen taps. Then Sega also showcased a demo - or more of a full-featured console game ported to the iPhone and again putting its accelerometer to good use - it's their Super Monkey Ball.
A working demo of the AIM messenger was also presented at the Apple's press conference. It looks almost like the real thing and would surely be among the most popular downloads.
Now if all that is not enough for you, maybe a little bit of extra motivation would do it. The venture capital company KPCB also announced that they have setup an investment fund, conveniently called the iFund, with a pot of 100 million US dollars.
That money would be used to fund innovators developing applications, services, and components for Apple's iPhone and iPod touch platform. The initiative will be targeting companies with long-term standalone potential and will focus on areas such as location-based services, social networking, mCommerce (including advertising and payments), communication, and entertainment. The iFund will invest anywhere from $100K of seed capital to $15M of expansion capital in mobile application and services companies that they think are worth it.