iPod Touch

Mobile music creation week continues! Happy Valentine’s Day, a few months early. This February, you’ll be able to light some candles, pour a bottle of wine, and start developing real applications for the iPod Touch and iPhone, fulfilling a dream a lot of us had when we first saw the iPhone last January. (And yes, this means that iPod Touch interface for MainStage you’ve been imagining can now be a reality.) Sayeth CEO Steve (on Apple Hot News; no direct link yet):

Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February.

So what was the holdup? Building a secure platform:

Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones—this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous. And since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target.

To some of Apple’s defenders who claimed this was the plan all along, this will be a “told you so” moment. They may be right, they may be wrong; it’s impossible to know what’s going on inside Apple. But either way, I think it’s safe to say that months of criticism from the developer communities and Mac community as a whole sent a clear message to Apple that open platforms and open development are important. Whether it influenced the decision to build the SDK, increased its priority, or simply prompted this announcement, it did have an effect.

And that’s a message not just to Apple, but other hardware makers. We’re living in an age of developers. JavaScript is great. But real apps are great, too. Developers want open platforms they can build upon. Savvy users are increasingly able to hack unusual creations to customize the hardware they buy. And non-programmer users very often want to choose how they use the gear they invest in. The iPhone and iPod Touch are already terrific devices, but they’re likely to be even better when users can use them the way they want.

Regardless, Apple: thank you.

One side note. It’s a little disappointing to me that Apple still rejects Java, which works quite well on mobile devices, allows cross-platform development, and has been addressing security concerns like these for years. (That’s part of why other phone makers are able to allow apps without security getting in the way.) At the same time, though, the potential of the iPhone’s UI and hardware interface are uniquely well-suited to a specific developer kit; much as I love Java, I think Cocoa is probably the better tool here. (I do like Java for desktop tools, so it’ll be interesting to see what Apple has done with Java 6 in Leopard; stay tuned.)

But in the meantime, I’m going to save my pennies and fiddle with multi-touch using the finished SDK in February. If it’s worth the wait for Apple, it’ll be worth the wait for me. As I spent yesterday watching DJs and event promoters fiddling with their iPhones, I still think gestural interfaces for multimedia really could be fantastic, not as a replacement for other expressive gadgets, but as a complement to them. (Just charge up that battery.) I’m excited to see what happens next, not just on Apple’s gear, but other devices, as well.

Have a candy heart.

  • bliss

    Well, aren't you blushing right about now. 😉

  • Naw, I still want a Palm Centro. (Seriously. GPS, works as a modem, 3G, $99)

  • the centro has no gps :/. Plenty of Palm gps dongles though.

  • aaronaldo

    ok, iphone/ipod touch ableton live, iphone/ipod touch Max/MSP might not be around the corner, but wow such fun should be had with a touch sensitive pocket music machine..

  • Matt

    ahhh – thats great news. i see myself at stage with my iphone and ableton live 😉

  • @Peter: I thought that, too, but now Sprint is saying GPS-enabled. Not that I care that much for $99. Maybe they mean dongles.

  • Danny

    I feel like Apple's use of multitouch on the iPhone is disappointingly limited so it is gonna be fantastic to see outside developers let loose with it.

    One thing, in his note Steve praises Nokia's signed 3rd party app system because of its security but he doesn't mention you can still put unsigned apps on the Nokia. No way that's happening with the iPhone. It is going to be iTunes all the way.

  • So, why didn't Apple just say an SDK was planned for the future in the first place, instead of giving us that weird "here's the good news, we're going to let you develop web apps" speech from a few months ago?

    Good news, though. Beyond this, I hope Apple considers developing its own portable, multi-touch, musicmaking-specific devices.

  • busoni


  • Adam s

    Yay so I guess I can do that browser with flash and implemet copy and paste! Actually on the crapper with my touch right now.

  • I wonder if we'll see Flash at some point. My understanding was that the issue was Flash's default video encoder being incompatible with the chip in the iPhone. Now Adobe has gone with H.264. Of course, there may be the issue of Apple (or even AT&T) not wanting to cut into their profits by paying a license fee for Flash Lite, to say nothing of the additional support work needed.

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