A couple of days ago, there were some very upset people. Steve Jobs announced that there was a “sweet” solution for development on the iPhone. Then he suggested that building web apps that work in the safari browser that comes on the iPhone was a great opportunity for people to build whatever they wanted for apps.
People were pissed. “This is a copout!”. “What about the cocoa developers?”. “I want XCode/CoreAnimation!”. All kinds of greedy, greedy behavior.
For now. That’s the key. I can’t really believe that past the first version, there won’t be a more advanced SDK. Maybe it’ll be licensed like it is for video game developers. You’ve gotta buy some special hardware or software in order to build tools for the iPhone. That’d seem like a reasonable method for keeping cruft out, things that make for buggy, unstable phones. Sure, it’s not 100% “open” like we’d like it to be, but neither is OS X, apple hardware, or a LOT of things that come out of Apple. Really…what did you people expect?
Another good point is that even with a nominal fee for the developer tools, you’re going to keep the quality of our oh-so-precious mac apps high. When you’ve got everyone and their sister who knows enough code to be dangerous building apps, the market becomes saturated with crap. Creating this artificial sandbox between pros and amateurs…pros can have the big boy tools but they gotta pay for ’em, while amateurs need to start off working with safari-based apps, MIGHT not be a bad thing.
So for now, we’ve got this crazy Safari web browser that’s popping up all over the place (though it’s clearly a beta in the desktop formats, I hope it’s more stable on the phone). People are so willing to speculate what they can do before even being able to do it, that they’ve built add-ons for their favorite apps that MIGHT let them use it on the iPhone.
The last thing I want people to think about is the precedent being set for mobile “browsing”. With the exception of screen size (and we dont even know how thats going to work, exactly), we’ve got a single browser that supposedly works exactly the same on 3 platforms: Mac, Windows, and a mobile device. Using the powers of web standards, microformats, and tools geared towards format portability, shouldn’t we be able to build an app ONCE and have the browser be able to understand the data there and best format it for the viewport? Basically, since its “the same browser”, why build a mobile version and a regular version? The mobile version should be able to automatically be gleaned from the regular version when the device detects that it needs to be in .mobi mode. Rather than have a device centric app, you’ve got an app that does stuff and the portal through which it is used is able to take a little virtual putty to it’s face on the fly and make it more mobile friendly.
I’m sure that Apple has a bunch of things up their sleeve as far as what we can do with the iPhone. Remember, they’ve done 180s on us before, when we least expected it.
I love my Apple gear. I’ve been a happy Apple customer for over a year now and won’t look back to windows except to browser test in IE (and to test WinSafari since I don’t want Beta3 janking up my MacbookPro). I WONT be buying a first revision iPhone. Do I want to play with one? Of course. It’s crazy cool. But first revision hardware can be saved for the fanboys. I’ll hang around and wait until he kinks are worked out.
[tags]iPhone, software development, browser, SDK, safari[/tags]
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