Look out BlackBerry - there can be only one fruit to rule them all.
Apple last week released a software development kit (SDK) for its hit iPhone that will enable third-party developers to create built-in applications for the handset. Until now, that’s been the exclusive province of Apple.
The move is a shot across the bow for BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, as it makes the iPhone much more viable for corporate use.
The iPhone is already the second most popular smartphone after the BlackBerry, despite having been out less than a year. But it has been considered unsuitable for corporate use due to its incompatibility with Microsoft’s Exchange email server software and an inability for system administrators to remotely control a fleet of iPhones.
The SDK addresses both these points, while giving businesses the power to create their own programs for the iPhone.
Launcing the SDK at a special media event last week, Apple execs showcased applications including a tool for salespeople in the field and a drug reference application for doctors.
But consumers will benefit as well. Other examples shown included AOL Instant Messenger and games by EA and Sega, including one that used the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer to control gameplay.
Importantly, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the company would allow VOIP (voice-over-IP) applications via wi-fi, so users could make low-cost calls over the internet.
The iPhone SDK is a free beta download that will run on any Mac with Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), and will simulate the iPhone operating environment. It can be downloaded at Apple’s website.
The final version of the SDK will accompany the iPhone 2.0 software update in June that will enable the iPhone and iPod touch to run third-party apps. iPod touch users will have to pay a nominal fee for the update, due to the way Apple classifies its iPod touch sales.
iPhone software boss Scott Forstall revealed that the iPhone 2.0 update would bring parental controls that allowed the disabling of the Safari web browser and other applications considered unsuitable for young users.
The release of the SDK is a major concession on the part of Apple, which originally insisted on web-based applications for the iPhone. The company feared that allowing access to the iPhone’s operating system itself would risk introducing malware, which could not only disable individual handsets but potentially spread across entire mobile networks.
But while now allowing built-in third-party applications, Apple is still taking security precautions: applications can only be sold via Apple’s “App Store”, and must carry a digital signature so any malicious applications can be traced back to their source.
There already are a host of web applications available for the iPhone and iPod touch, accessible via Apple’s website.
The iPhone is expected to be released in Australia this year.
To email this article to a friend, fill in the form below