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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Apple to Open iPhone Development

posted by on October 18 at 7:53 AM

Yesterday, Apple announced that the long-awaited iPhone software development kit will be available in February, allowing officially supported third-party applications to be developed for Apple’s mobile platform. Yay.

The New York Times reports on this development today, and gets oh-so-many things wrong.


After engendering frustration from some customers and software makers, Apple has changed its policy to encourage independent developers to build programs for use on the iPhone.

I guess this is technically true, but misleading at best. This isn’t a change in policy, it’s what was expected—though un-announced—all along.

Several weeks ago, Apple released an over-the-air update to the iPhone that erased programs made by independent developers and caused some phones to freeze up.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The update was not “over-the-air,” and it didn’t erase anything. It restored iPhones to their standard state, that is, un-hacked. Making unsupported modifications to software is—guess what—unsupported. Phones that froze up were almost all “unlocked,” meaning the firmware had been fundamentally modified to allow them to work on carriers besides AT&T. These users were clearly warned not to apply the optional update.

The article improves from there, in many ways contradicting the first half. It’s as if the reporter took a walk around the block to clear his head. He does close with a final bit of inanity, though at least it’s coming from someone else.

Advocates of unlocking the iPhone and creating programs for it assert that they paid for the device and it belongs to them, not to Apple.

“If Apple does something where they remove everything I did on it, I have a feeling that Apple is kindly lending me a phone to make phone calls,” said Mr. Houri, the executive from Mexens Technology.

Sheesh. Yeah, it belongs to you. You can fuck with it if you want—go nuts. But if you’re stupid enough to run a software update after you’ve modified the phone’s firmware and to expect whatever you did to be left alone, you’re, you know, really stupid.

K, bye.

RSS icon Comments


I'm really glad someone else pores over the Apple blogosphere as closely as I do. I detect distinct notes of John Gruber, and a clean finish of Ars Technicia.

But I'm pretty happy with this announcement. I tried the hacking, but wasn't too disappointed when I lost all the applications, most of them were so far more "look what I can do!" than real useful tools. With this announcement, I'm sure we'll get some solid apps come February. For now, I'm gonna be pretty occupied installing Leopard and going through it feature by feature.

Posted by MacJ | October 18, 2007 8:09 AM

I've been disappointed to see that OpenMoko is so slow in development and release. Have you been following that at all, Anthony? I am a potential user, and smalltime developer perhaps, but am dismayed at the delays.

Posted by Gabriel | October 18, 2007 8:13 AM

the only noteworthy thing about apple is aapl.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 18, 2007 8:43 AM

What if Ford sent out teams to "restore users' automobiles to their original, intended state"?

Teams across the US sent to peoples homes; swapping out doves for stock rims, removing after-market accessories, supercharging systems, etc. After all, many of these "hacks" void certain warranties, and most of them aren't technically (though never enforced) legal modifications.

Would this be acceptable? It's not a perfect analogy, but there has been a certain precedent regarding digital property = actually, physical property.

Posted by Dougsf | October 18, 2007 1:58 PM

It's a really poor analogy, actually. It's completely your physical property, no one is forced to update to the latest software.

The analogy is more like, what if I downloaded a software patch for my Ford's fuel-infection computer so I could burn peanut oil, and then took the car to the dealer to get the latest, greatest fuel-injection computer software they just released. Should I expect it to respect my modifications? Of course not. If you want to modify things, go right ahead (I have), but don't expect the latest update to not revert your changes.

The point isn't the modification, it's the expectation that the modification will be honored by upgrades.

Posted by Anthony Hecht | October 18, 2007 5:36 PM

Your analogy is quite a bit better, and actually pretty plausible.

I think I just like the idea of a major car company stealing rims and after market tailpipes and replacing them to stock.

A friend of mine works support for Apple, he's not been having a great time lately, thanks to the iPhone.

Posted by Dougsf | October 18, 2007 7:17 PM

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