There have been a lot of posts over the last week about Apple updating the iPhone in such a way that blocks third-party software from being installed.
This may be sacrilegious as a geek who values freedom, but I think it’s worth stating…
The applications that Apple has cruelly denied users from installing on their iPhones… weren’t very good.
Sure, they were cool. The fact that using reverse-engineering, undocumented APIs, and wicked-smarts, folks were able to turn out an IM app or a NES emulator is truly impressive, and a feat which should be applauded.
That said, the “platform”, such as it is, isn’t ready. Applications don’t work terribly well, or consistently. The things I installed that felt the most polished and useful? Were all games and timewasters.
For example what good is an IM app or a Twitter client which stops updating when you switch to another application? Or which gets confused and crash when you lose network connection?
When presented with the choice to upgrade my iPhone to version 1.1.1 (and get a louder speakerphone, the one new feature I really cared about), or to stick with my hacked and customized iPhone, it wasn’t even a contest. I upgraded that evening. And apart from the funky customization of my home screen (pictured), I haven’t really missed the hacks.
Will Apple open up, release an SDK and allow anyone to compile code and deploy to their cellphone? Perhaps. (Will Apple force developers to go through some convoluted approval and/or signing process? More likely). But they won’t do that until the platform of the iPhone is at a stage where the apps you can run will work stunningly well.
And while the locks may have been reinforced with this firmware update, I suspect the ingenuity of the apps created thus far will only strengthen the case within Apple to make a SDK freely available.