The iPhone 3.0 SDK is a fantastic update, bringing a lot of what was on developer wish lists for the device. But some of the early speculation – that the so-called “library access” would enable music games and DJ apps — may have been premature. Jordan Balagot writes to let us know that, at least in the current SDK, access to media is very limited.

The “library access” in the 3.0 SDK is only a player control API similar to that of the iPod; there is not even read only file access for MP3s nor any way to modify the output from the library. So no iPhone DJing, no BPM detection, no interactive PD or Reaktor patches with your library.

Unfortunately, this seems consistent with Apple’s desire to be the one and only media player on the device. I’m hoping that this is still something Apple plans to add – imagine the ability to add effects or run games based on the library (a la the PC game Audiosurf) or create DJ apps. I know many people who use iPhone or iPod as sample players or backups for live sets; having a custom player app could also be useful.

By comparison, Google’s Android has no such limitations on its MediaPlayer class – the fundamental difference being that you aren’t limited from playing media on your device. Unfortunately, Android has its own limitations: no real audio buffer access, which means it’s not possible to build effects or DJ apps or games on Android, either.

And that’s typical of the sort of situation the newest mobile devices present. We have the iPhone, more sophisticated technically, but limited, apparently, by design in order to protect Apple control over certain functions. Then we have the Android, philosophically unlimited but technically limited by some key missing capabilities.

My question is, which device will evolve first to give us the freedom to make use of its full potential?

No file or output access to iPhone MP3 library – 3.0 SDK still too restrictive

If we’re lucky, perhaps the 3.1 SDK? (Or something we’ll still see in 3.0 that isn’t done yet?)