Well, I didnt think it would happen (or if it did, it would be a closed, crippled version thereof) but Apple have proved me wrong by releasing the iPhone SDK. For those of you who don’t know, an SDK (or Software Development Kit) is a series of tools and documentation that explains and documents the specific works of a piece of hardware. The goal is to allow third part developers (or enthusiasts) to develop almost any free or commercial application they want for the specific platform. Although Apple have in the past been very draconian with their hardware, opting instead to keep a hand on the tiller, the iPhone has really shown the ability of the fanbase to overcome huge obsticles in order to improve on an already great product.
Apple sensibly is legitimising this growing movement but in a way which they can control and support. For example, SIM unlocking programs will not receive the digital certificates required for development, but on the flipside, you can be assured any programs you do download will be malware free. Not only this, but by opening up the playing field to the third party, Apple are also allowing for great feature-adds which they will not have to pay for.
Potentially now, all the gripes and missing features (along with a long list of ‘I wish it did xyz’) can be properly addressed.
Here’s a quick summary:
– iPhone SDK and emulator available now (beta)
– Intel-based Mac required
– Microsoft Exchange/ActiveSync support coming (oh hello there, RIM)
– IM client coming
– Sega games coming (Super Monkey Ball)
– EA games coming (Spore)
– Apps available on iTunes App Store (both on iPhone and Mac/PC)
– Developer fee of $99 to publish in iTunes App Store (includes support)
– Developer sets price (paid or free)
– Developer keeps 70% of profits
– Firmware 2.0 required to use iTune App Store (available in June)
– iFund: $100 Million Dollars VC fund for iPhone software startups
One of the points on the list was that Spore would be officially released on the iPhone in September. When I heard this I assumed it would either be a 2D mobile version or the full game restricted to the amoeba stages. This appears not to be the case, although all the screen shots I could find show a 2D world. Given the game is procedurally generated, the system requirements (for running) the game would not be particularly high, although I am still dubious. If it is released in all it’s glory, I wonder is the MMORPG element would be available via EDGE?
Locational awareness is one of the key elements to the EDGE support in the iPhone, I hope that this means we start seeing games with real world based like the gizmodo originally tried. Apple have also opened up the iPhone in several ways, as mentioned, they now support Exchange servers through the license of Microsoft Activesync.
This is potentially huge because it really opens up a lot of potential for this device in the corporate world. There are many other gems that were disclosed during the conference, take a look at the full illustrated transcript here, courtesy of Engadget.