Apple on Oct. 17 announced that it will provide a software development kit for third parties to create applications for the companys popular iPhone and iPod Touch.
"We want native third-party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third-party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users," read a posting signed by Apple CEO Steve Jobs on companys Web site.
Previously, Apple has limited non-Apple iPhone development to "Web 2.0" implementations for use only online, and in the iPhones Safari Web browser.
That brought criticism that has caused some pushback from developers. Safari-encased Web applications cannot be used without a live Internet connection, and do not share prime application icon space in the iPhones main window.
Some developers have relied on hacks that "unlock" or "jailbreak" iPhones, such as Installer.app.
The recent iPhone 1.1.1 update eliminated many of the bugs that enabled this. In response, some customers accused Apple of intentionally "bricking" modified iPhones and one class-action lawsuit about this was filed in California.
Click here to read more about what developers think about Safari as an iPhone application platform.
Apple did not respond to inquiries seeking more details on the upcoming SDK and asking why it took so long to respond to developer demands for an SDK, which could have prevented a lot of complaints and hard feelings in the market.
But the Apples online Hot News letter stated that, "It will take until February to release an SDK because were trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc."
In addition, the letter gave the approving example of how Nokia requires potential phone applications to have an approved "digital signature" before it can be loaded onto a Nokia handset.
Calling it a "step in the right direction." the letter said that Apple is "working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhones amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs."
Read more here about about Mac OS X Leopard.
This does not ensure that developers will need to step through an approval and registration process with Apple, or AT&T, Apples cell carrier partner for the iPhone, though this partnership is irrelevant with the iPod Touch.
It is worth noting, however, that one of the new features of Leopard, the new version of Apples operating system due on Oct. 26, is signed applications.
This allows developers, including Apple and third parties, to include a digital signature with applications. According to Apple, this enables the OS to verify the identity of each application, ensuring that corrupted or hacked versions will not open.
Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.