iPhone SDK Restrictions

There’s been some ‘grumbling’ (here and here) about some of the restrictions that are placed on application developers and their products if they use the iPhone SDK.

Many of the commenters seem concerned that the SDK is much more restrictive than ‘regular desktop’ development, with restrictions on running in the background, a lack of access to certain parts of the platform, and pieces of functionality present in desktop Mac OS X but missing from Cocoa Touch.

Why are things so different ? Technical challenges ? No. The reason – in two words is: Legal Liability.

I think Apple is very concerned that there is a danger someone would try to use their iPhone in an emergency (to dial 911) and have it fail because of a failure (or out of control) third-party application. If that happens and lawyers get involved I don’t think they’re going to  go after small  one-person software developers with buggy code. Rather they’ll go for the deep pockets at Apple.

Yes Mac OS X uses protected memory, and is a pre-emptive operating system. But it’s still vulnerable to people using too many resources and there are places in the OS where the failure of one application at the wrong time can lead other applications to fail (for example Disk Notification on the desktop  Mac OS X can cause Finder to stall if you fail to respond to the notification request in a timely manner).

Personally I’m grateful for a little care, attention and large walls in this space – my phone is probably more important than my desktop, especially in an emergency, making sure it’s always there when I need it is very important.

Posted under Apple, Development, iPhone

This post was written by awk on March 13, 2008

iPhone SDK, App signing and Beta Testing

Part of the iPhone SDK is a requirement to spend $99/year if you wish to distribute your application through the iTunes Store.

The $99 also gives you the ability to load your application into your own phone for testing without needing to use the store. Apparently it does this by giving you a certificate which you can use to sign your application, the same certificate needs to be installed into the phone for the application to run.

This is part of Apples mechanism to ensure that only approved (blessed) applications will be distributed through the store – apps on the store will be signed with a different certificate that Apple will control and that certificate will be installed on all iPhones running V2.0 of the iPhone OS.

What about beta testing your application on a larger pool of users than just your phone – testing is always a good thing – but right now it’s unclear how you can distribute your application to a pool of testers and let them install it. Using the store won’t be a good thing because that exposes the app to everyone. Require every tester to have paid $99 for the tools to self-sign (as it’s called) and install the app on their phone ? That seems expensive. Distribute your certificate with each app and have testers install it alongside the app ? Better – but still the question of exactly how is the app installed.

How to test the fruits of your labours seems quite unanswered right now !

Posted under Apple, Development, iPhone

This post was written by awk on March 7, 2008

iPhone to Android – I’ll see your 10 million and raise you another 90 million

One of the things that Google announced with Android (though they’ve revised the rules once already) was a competition with between $25,000 and $275,000 in prize money for the best mobile applications on Android.

Today’s ‘One More Thing…’ announcement from Steve Jobs during the iPhone SDK event was for John Doerr from the VC Partners Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers announcing that they’ve created a $100 million fund to invest in the development of applications for the iPhone. You can find the FAQ here – Kleiner has one of the better track records of picking good tech firms to fund. Gaining their funding would be a huge leg up for any developer !

Frankly I prefer Apple’s approach – it seems a little more professional and a little less like a competition for students !

Posted under Apple, Development, iPhone

This post was written by awk on March 6, 2008

Now this is a neat idea

Replug - it’s like the Mag Safe connector on a PowerBook but for 3.5 mm Audio jacks such as on a notebook or iPod. I don’t think it’ll work on the iPhone though, it looks a little too ‘recessed’ to fit.

It also looks like they don’t have an online store or any resellers yet. Still worth keeping an eye on.

Posted under iPhone

This post was written by awk on October 2, 2007

Revolutionary Rebate Experience

Say what you will about Apple’s price reduction on the iPhone and subsequent decision to give early customers an Apple Store credit for $100, but only Apple could actually implement it with such logistical finesse.

Every other technology company when offering a rebate does it using some sort of “fax or mail us the purchase receipt, and fill out this form too – we’ll send you a check (please allow 4-6 weeks for processing)”. This is rarely a satisfying experience, after waiting for your rebate it’s far too common instead to get a letter (after 8 weeks) saying that something was illegible on the receipt, or that the form was incorrectly filled out. It’s so bad that my father now refuse to buy any product with this sort of a rebate attached, unless the product is affordable at the price before rebate.

Apple’s approach is much simpler :

  1. Go to http://www.apple.com/iphone/storecredit/ and enter the telephone number of your iPhone and it’s serial number.
  2. Wait for the (free) SMS Message on your iPhone containing an access code.
  3. Enter the access code on the website and then print out the displayed certificate. You can use the certificate at a retail Apple Store or you can use it at the online Apple store by entering the details.

Takes about three minutes, couldn’t be simpler and seems very reliable (I’ve not seen any complaints yet). It should even work for the relative of a colleague who was in one of the lines outside a store and bought a third phone from the guy in front of him for cash.

Not content with revolutionizing the phone buying experience Apple has even revolutionized the phone rebate experience !

Posted under iPhone

This post was written by awk on September 14, 2007

No appointment entry on the iPod Touch ?

This seems like a retrograde bit of product segmentation. According to Gizmodo the iPod Touch does not have the ability to create appointments in it’s calendar – even thought it’s ostensibly the same calendar application as on the iPhone.

Whilst creating appointments was never possible on any of the other iPod models – that was wasn’t a big surprise since they lacked any sort of usable entry mechanism. However the iPod Touch has the same soft-keyboard as  the iPhone so this bit of product segmentation seems truly out of touch.

Posted under iPhone

This post was written by awk on September 10, 2007

iPhone – Battery Life

Although it’s been a little ad-hoc I’m noticing significantly improved battery life if I’m not within range of a Wi-Fi network or if I turn off the Wi-Fi on the iPhone. The problem might also be exacerbated by having a ‘check for new mail’ setting rather than having a manual check.

I’m noticing that after 9 hours after a full charge has completed (with the Wi-Fi disabled) I still have as near as makes no difference a full charge (I’ve had one very short phone call in that period, and mail is autochecking but using Edge to do it). Previously I would estimate that in similar circumstances with the Wi-Fi on (and mail autochecking) I would have significantly less than 1/2 a battery remaining.

The next less than scientific test will be to have the Wi-Fi on but the mail auto check disabled, that way it should be clear whether it’s directed usage, or just having it enabled that’s the power drain.

Posted under iPhone

This post was written by awk on July 17, 2007

iPhone – Cleaning Cloth

The iPhone screen certainly get’s a little ‘smudgy’ with fingerprints and the like, but it’s not really too bad when the screen is on since the display is sufficiently bright and clear that it’s not overwhelmed by the fingerprints.

However mindful that people will want to keep their iPhone fingerprint and smudge free Apple thoughtfully includes a black cleaning cloth (with iPhone embossed) with each iPhone purchase. What’s surprising is just how well the cloth works ! It’s way better than ‘some random bit of cotton’ (ie. my T-Shirt), it almost seems to be suede rather than cotton, perhaps it’s impregnated with something too ?

Clearly as much thought went into the cleaning cloth and the screen surface as all the other parts of the iPhone package.

Posted under iPhone

This post was written by awk on July 10, 2007

iPhone – Mail Autocheck

One feature I actually miss from my Treo is a ‘window’ setting on the Mail Autocheck in iPhone. Mail on the iPhone will check for new messages every 15, 30, or 60 minutes (or manually). However there’s no restriction to that setting to say only check between 8am and 8pm. SnapperMail on the Treo would let you configure the days and period during a day when mail was automatically retrieved – outside of those times mail checking was manual.

The lack of a window means that unless you have the iPhone set to ‘silent mode’, when new mail is retrieved in the middle of the night the phone ‘beeps’ to alert you to the new message. Not enough to wake me up (it’s just a single trill), but enough to wake you from that nearly sleeping state if your phone is on the nightstand.

A small upgrade for the future Apple ?

Posted under iPhone

This post was written by awk on July 7, 2007

iPhone – Typing Trick

David Pogue published an invaluable trick for typing more quickly when there’s a lot of punctuation involved :


In a nutshell hold down the ‘.?123 key’ which transforms the keyboard layout from alphabetic to numeric/punctuation and then drag to the punctuation mark or number you want. When you lift your finger the character is inserted and the keyboard snaps back to alphabetic again.

The  same trick works for the ‘shift key’ to do uppercase characters.

Posted under iPhone

This post was written by awk on July 5, 2007