Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Programming Businesses Communications Handhelds IT Technology Apple Hardware

AT&T Welcomes Programmers for All Phones Except the iPhone 283

Posted by Zonk
from the come-out-and-play dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apple's reasoning for keeping the iPhone a closed platform is that they don't want to 'potentially gum up the provider's network'. An article in the New York Times, though, points out that there are hundreds of phones out there working on open platforms that don't seem to be causing network interference. AT&T and Palm, in fact, welcome experimentation on their platforms. In AT&T's case ... on every phone but the iPhone. 'Hackers who have explored the workings of the phone say it uses the frameworks and structures that Apple uses on its other platforms to enable development; it just hasn't been documented. So if Apple is going to allow applications later, is there any reason -- other than vindictiveness or obsessive interest in control -- that it would want to cut off those developed by the pioneers who figured things out ahead of the official launch?'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AT&T Welcomes Programmers for All Phones Except the iPhone

Comments Filter:
  • Re:vindictiveness? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:52AM (#20823205)
    It's all about the money so follow it. I can't wait for the Asians to put an Apple clone onto the market. That way the iPhone will become "just another phone." Or have they patented that touch interface?
  • by mpapet (761907) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:57AM (#20823257) Homepage
    If they don't want people messing with their precious phone, then don't buy one. I know that won't play well in the Reality Distortion Field, but their stubborness should not be rewarded.

    Now, if it were actually the case that the service providers in the States actually wanted developers to do nifty stuff, then I think the pace of innovation on mobile phones would be quite different. Most of the wireless network providers don't want you to do neat things because that's money out of their pocket.

    If there's a benevolent provider, please speak up.
  • Re:Is there? Yes.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by howiew (1049300) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @10:57AM (#20823265)
    The simple reason that the iphone software is being significantly modified with every update now. Its sill in development at apple and is a moving target for potential developers. Its very possible that they will allow developers at some point but are aware that any applications written now will likely be broken after the next update.
  • Re:Is there? Yes.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by darthflo (1095225) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:12AM (#20823489)
    Assuming Apple aren't liars and the iPhone really runs (a slimmed down version of) OS X that would, in turns, mean they're not allowing developers to develop software for their PCs (by PC I mean "personal computer", not "x86 machine running MS Windows" as mac loonies would use it) as well?
  • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:12AM (#20823495)

    From the article:

    What's especially odd here is that Apple has indicated that it will eventually allow third-party developers. This is what Steve Jobs told Walt Mossberg at the D conference:

    This is a very important trade-off between security and openness. We want both. We've got good ideas, and sometime later this year, we can open it up to third-party apps, and keep security.

    And hackers who have explored the workings of the phone say it uses the frameworks and structures that Apple uses on its other platforms to enable development; it just hasn't been documented. So if Apple is going to allow applications later, is there any reason -- other than vindictiveness or obsessive interest in control -- that it would want to cut off those developed by the pioneers who figured things out ahead of the official launch?

    What is especially odd is a NYT reporter creating a conspiracy story... wait I'm sorry that is normal operations at the times lately.

    But seriously, maybe the real reason that Apple is not opening the iPhone right away is something more mundane. I base this on some of the minor clues given in the above quote.

    1. The firmware API is not yet set in stone. Apple may be planning some "tweaks" to smooth over any rough edges in the firmware after releasing the phone into the wild and before publishing the currently undocumented API.

    2. They haven't formulated a plan to keep the phone secure, and allow third-party programs (Sandbox anyone?).

    3. The one thing that this article failed to mention that the other AT&T phones are handsets with limited OS installed and low data rate capabilities, and this is a smartphone with a reduced feature version of OS X installed and alledged high data rate capabilities. The point being that the iPhone is a little more complicated than a free Nokia or Motorolla phone.

    Just wanted to point out some obvious scenarios, before the mac, windows, and linux fan-bois start the flamefest.

  • by StCredZero (169093) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:12AM (#20823501)
    Steve Jobs can't come right out and say this, as it can be seen as tantamount to saying that users are stupid. Security. Not on the cell network, but the iPhone as a new platform. User's can't be trusted to install their own apps!

    The big reason that Windows machines are riddled with Trojans, is that every user's process runs with the same permissions as the user, and that current systems do not allow finer-grained control over these permissions. (I removed 18 Trojans from my girlfriend's mom's computer the other day!) Stuff like this is one of the big reasons why the user experience on Windows can SUCK. (And yes, it's terrible that all iPhones have the same root password and that's already been cracked.)

    The OLPC folks are addressing this by running apps in a sandbox. There are many others thinking along these lines -- that the security model we've been using is not the right one. The current Access Control List security model was designed to keep individual users on a mainframe from interfering with each other while under the supervision of a benevolent and all-powerful root Super-User. Now, in the 21st century, essentially everyone, their mom, their grandparents, and anyone else who runs Windows as Administrator and installs programs is root.

    Think about it. There's something seriously wrong here, folks.

    Now that we are entering the era of dual and quad core computers becoming mainstream, there is no reason why we can't have more secure models like capabilities. (Especially on quad core machines, where a micro-kernel can lock itself to one processor to prevent context-switch overhead without undue loss of performance.) In order to ensure security on the iPhone, and thus retain total control of the user experience despite malicious hackers, something like sandboxes with a capability model is needed. (Capabilities without context switch overhead could also be enabled by using a VM platform like Java.)

    See Rik Farrow's Google Tech Talk [google.com] on this subject. It's over an hour, so download it and watch it while working out. It's a *fact* that we've been barking up the wrong tree security-wise.
  • The Question of VoiP (Score:4, Interesting)

    by foo fighter (151863) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @11:49AM (#20824061) Homepage
    I have read in several places on the web, including in the comments here at /., that the reason the iPhone is closed is to prevent the development and widespread use of a VoiP app.

    In light of this article, here is my questions: do VoiP apps exist for these other phones? If so, are such apps widely used? If not, why not?

    Has a VoiP app been written for hacked iphones? If not, why not?

    I have no experience with either the iphone or unlocked gsm phones that allow third-party development because I'm on Verizon. (They are the only network provider with decent coverage over the vast swathes of non-urban areas that make up the majority of where I need a mobile phone in the US.)
  • Experimental (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pr0nbot (313417) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @12:23PM (#20824585)
    iPhone is a big experiment for Apple. Clearly, there is a lot of potential for iPhone software and services beyond what you get with it right now.

    I expect Apple prefers to keep it closed while it settles down and they see how it all pans out, to have time to see where best to take it next, and to develop and sell the new services themselves without losing out to some fleeter third-party developer.

    Consumers may have a lot to gain from an open iPhone, but I don't see that Apple does right now.

    That's just one reason though. If it were fully open and documented, the first thing people would do is throw VOIP & IM onto it, which would piss off AT&T.
  • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @01:05PM (#20825289) Homepage
    Perhaps it's also worth mentioning that the initial programs written for the iPhone exploited security holes in the software? It's possible that the death of the Installer.app applications was just a side effect of a security tightening.

    I don't have an iPhone (yet), but I have had many PDA phones and I think Apple have made the right call here for iPhone v1.0 but they will have to change if they want iPhone v2.0 to be a success.

    The big problem with most PDA phones is that they are worthless pieces of S**T. My Palm dies constantly, the browser is dreadful and third party apps make it unstable. My iPaq was worse, the bluetooth and WiFi were abysmal and the phone quality rubbish.

    The problem with most computer phones is that they have puny processors and the operating system (such as it is) is 1980s style with no protected memory. Put a misbehaving application on the device and it becomes unstable.

    Given the time that Apple had to put the iPhone together, I think they made the right call. It is far more important for the iPhone to work well as a phone than be an infinitely extensible computing platform.

    This is not going to be the case for iPhone 2.0. Unlike the iPod competitors, Motorola, Nokia &ct. have the same commitment to usability, style etc. that Apple does. Google is also likely to enter the market. They are not going to respond with a Zune. If the iPhone is going to continue to be a success it is going to have to be available unlocked.

    The iPhone exclusive deal looks to me like it is the last hurrah for a business model that has had its day. Carriers don't want to be in the business of selling phones, they have to give discounts on them in any case. The business of locking phones evolved because the carriers have to ease the customer into the deal by making the phone effectively free.

    Free phones made a lot of sense when they became obsolete in a year, as they did a few years ago. The difference between the RAZR and predecessors was significant. The difference between modern phones is much less important. The iPhone marks the end of the 'disposable phone' era. People will abandon the 1st generation iPhone for the GPS and 3G capabilities in the second. But the idea of replacing a phone every year as a matter of course will go.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @01:28PM (#20825591)
    and welcome to the 1980's.

    Now you can start reading that wonderful 1983 publication "The Orange Book" (URL:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trusted_Computer_System_Evaluation_Criteria/) and learn about Division B.

    Having an untrusted system administrator is not due to the advent of the 21st century or unknown to the mainframe world.

    Unfortunately, what you will discover when you've finished reading that massive, snooze-inducing, orange-covered book is that everything needed to safely allow system administration by untrusted users is also everything needed to enforce kick-a** DRM.

    Doh!
  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @01:57PM (#20825999)
    Just to add, (I was working at IBM at the time), many IBM people were really upset by the reverse-engineering of the BIOS, (that really enabled the cloners to break through), but it was deemed that IBM could not sue & win.

    It was a conseqence of using off-the-shelf components, itself a consequence of the very short development cycle of the PC. IBM just did not have enough patents in there. Hell, we even bought the software from some small outfit... A lot of people opposed this from the start, FYI, since they could see where it was going.

    Was not lack of focus due to 'big iron' mentality, (although that certainly existed, and does explain why PCs were a bitch to network - apart from to a /360 - for ages). In reality, the big iron & mini boys were soon shitting their pants about it, especially when 3rd party networking solutions appeared...by then it was too late to stuff Pandora back into the box, and the PS/2 was always going to lose, fine machine that it was. The market was not dumb enough to go back to closed architectures and prices.

  • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @02:24PM (#20826405) Homepage
    But the Iphone uses a modified OSX kernel. Which has protected memory. I seriously doubt they will ever open up the development for 3rd party apps. I think its exactly because Apple locked down the Iphone that others ( Nokia, Motoroloa, Google) will take the same approach to protect revenue schemes, plus the stability that you mentioned.

    And the original MAC used a 68000 with a memory manager that was completely capable of supporting protected memory but Apple never used it.

    The fact that the platform may have some protected memory capability built in does not mean that the O/S is configured to take advantage of it. Windows XP has protected memory but its still virus prone because few people use the accounts feature.

    Lock in is a first mover strategy. If you are the second or the third the advantage of lock in is much less. So pretty much every scheme that starts off with a walled garden approach is challenged in time by an open one.

  • by grappler (14976) on Tuesday October 02, 2007 @02:30PM (#20826519) Homepage
    I want it both ways - I want continued updates and improvements to my new mobile computer from Apple, and I want to be able to do other interesting things with my new mobile computer that fill a niche that Apple understandably wouldn't be writing software for.

    Is it unreasonable for me, an Apple customer and shareholder, to want this?

    When I'm buying a technology product, there are several factors that weigh into the decision. One is the quality of the technology. Just as important is the future outlook. Is there a good chance that missing features I want can be easily added later? Are there a lot of people, either in a company or on their own, working to improve it? Will I be able to adapt it to some niche problem that I'm working on that may not be important to most people, but is important to me?

    Apple has a great technology, but lacking those other ingredients I just can't get too excited about the whole package. In a year's time, there will be other very similar phones on the market:
    http://www.engadget.com/2007/08/29/nokias-iphone-no-seriously/ [engadget.com]

    And some of those will likely be infinitely customizable. Nokia is already running with this Apple blunder:
    http://www.nseries.com/index.html?l=campaigns,open [nseries.com]

    So Apple, am I going to feel like an idiot for buying into a closed platform when similar but open models come out from other companies?

    Barring a shift in policy of some kind, such as a released api or "binary application approval program", I am thinking it's time to get out of AAPL and think hard before buying more Apple products.

Help stamp out Mickey-Mouse computer interfaces -- Menus are for Restaurants!

Working...