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back to article Apple lifts iPhone code ban (for chosen few)

Steve Jobs has lifted his outright ban on iPhone interpreted code, allowing some developers to interpret, but not others. In the recently updated terms of service for the iPhone SDK, Apple says it will allow interpreted code — but only with its written permission. The move is yet another indication that Jobs is restricting …

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Fail

This really is no change whatsoever. Likely the only people allowed to use this will be big firms/etc, the same games-makers/etc which get to use Lua (if memory serves) at present in order to make them make games for the iDevices whilst anyone else would be rejected,

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Re: Fail

Your probably right. I wonder if apple would agree in writing before an app's written, or if they expect the developer to write the app first, then submit it for approval.

If it's the later, then nothing has changed.

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interesting explanation from his Steveness

As much as I disagree with how Apple lock down the iPhone in so many ways, I actually think Steve's explanation makes a lot of sense-- look at what happened with Sony and the PS3. They have undoubtedly the best hardware in the console market, but games that come out for both PS3 and xbox don't show off that hardware advantage. From a developer's perspective, delivering a mediocre product to a broad market may well be a better decision than an amazing product for a portion of the market. I think Steve's goal is to create more Objective-C/Cocoa developers (which will benefit Apple across all its markets) and use the app store as an enormous carrot. Flash apps for the iphone do nothing for the broader Apple ecosystem.

I think Apple is looking long-term and making a very carefully reasoned strategic maneuver.

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Bronze badge

Is it the correct comparison to make?

From the top down view (CEO) you may have the correct comparison, both Sony and Apple want complete control over not just their devices but the markets their devices are in.

Sony have had a number of exclusive titles since launch that do utilise the full power of the console, such as God of War 3. Has this improved Sony position in the market? I doubt it seeing as 1 Xbox 360 title (Remember, a device with nowhere near the potential of the PS3) called Halo 3 has outsold all PS3 exclusives put together, also a number of cross platform titles on the PS3 have outsold PS3 exclusives individually too.

Apple is running the app store in a similar fashion to Sony's gaming console cycle, at first have few restrictions, development open to all and as the platform improves/matures slowly lock down more and more. This has nothing to do with user experience, it has everything to do with balance sheets though.

Its seems that developers have realised that the users want the same experience regardless of platform, this in turn saves them money on development allowing more features to be added to said app in the same development timescale. How long before Apple state that less powerful developers are not allowed to release the app on the iPhone if it is available on another platform or vice versa?

Apple had a choice, ban translated code tools or work with them to improve how they translate the code to make it work better on their devices. They chose the former and I believe it is this decision proves they dont have a long term view at all, its just a short term land grab.

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Re: interesting explanation from his Steveness

"Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features."

Ok.

"Again, we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor’s platforms."

Hmm, the problem I have with this logic is that conversely, apple does accept an outcome where developers are blocked from the innovations and enhancements of others because apple doesn't control it.

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Grenade

O RLY?

"They have undoubtedly the best hardware in the console market, but games that come out for both PS3 and xbox don't show off that hardware advantage."

Could it be that the PS3 'hardware advantage' only exists in marketing hyperole rather than in reality, hence the problem you describe ... rather than it being down to cross-platform SDKs?

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WTF?

PS3 and xboxen

What makes you think these platforms are not 'locked down'?

Even if they weren't you do realize the only common thing they share is the in order ppc64 cores. They are vastly different beasts.

If companies want to create code on one platform and do a half arsed port to another (PS3s seem to get shafted that way), that's not going to stop the same thing happening in iPhone like devices locked down or otherwise, imho.

However, with Apple actually governing what apps look like now, those ports may never even materialize. Or even...

Steve: "We don't like the look of your foo app ui's, Fuznub, the button shapes... the positioning and layout... Smells too much of M$"

Fuznub: "But it's a direct port of my foo windoze program. Users expect it to look the same"

Steve: "Change it, it's not like it's a big deal"

...weeks later

Steve: "Err.. we don't like the ui of your shipping foo app, Fuznub, it's too simple... bit too much like our own bar App... Too Apple! Users may get confused and buy your foo product instead of our bar one. We get less money that way. You gotta change it..."

Fuznub: "F"

Fuznub: "U"

Fuznub: "Steve"

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Silver badge

Trolling?

The PS3 may have a more interesting CPU, and a blu-ray drive, but I honestly don't think you can say the hardware overall is the best -- I'd start off by arguing that the Xbox 360 GPU is superior to the old nvidia GPU in the PS3. Then, I'd say that the most important thing is then that in the Xbox 360 the memory pool is a unified 512MB, as opposed to in the PS3, where the system RAM is 256MB, and the GPU has 256MB, and for the CPU to access the GPU RAM is very slow.

This alone makes me think the 360 is a more elegant design, better suited to the console marketplace (where it's far better to design a "decent" but not cutting edge machine) so costs can be brought down quicker.

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It exists, but what does it mean, really...

Since i have both platforms, i can tell you that there actually *is* a "hardware advantage" on the ps3 in that it is more powerful and allows for slightly improved graphics (shaders, etc.).

That being said, to me it boils down to the game itself and that is the reason why i sport all this hardware -- some games will draw people in regardless of certain graphic considerations and in any case imo it's hard to compare because there are fantastic titles on both platforms.

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Grenade

Killer app?? lol

Killer app? Give me a break, most of what comes from an open system is crap. Android is "open" and what killer apps does it have. In fact any app you find on both Android and iPhone, is always better on the iPhone. Looks better, works better, and sometimes with more features. I've tried, gave up my iPhone for Mot Droid and it was a frustrating experience. I let my geekness get the best of me. Decided to go with the smartphone with most megapixels, memory expansion, etc. Only to be let down.

I realize that people that are only concerned with the numbers (megapixel, memory, screen size, etc..) miss the big picture. User experience is a major part of the puzzle and Apple has that hands down, 100%. Its interesting to me that a picture taken with my 3GS (3 megapixel) iPhone looks much better than my friends HTC Hero (5 megapixel) phone. QUALITY is also key. Use cheap parts (no matter how good the numbers look), you get cheap results. At least I know if I buy an iPhone, it will be quality all the way. As far as openness is concerned, it may breed more "creativity" but never anything of quality. Its good for standards but not so good if your trying to build quality. There has to be a balance of proprietary and openness, Apple is riding along those lines. Aside from hopeless geeks concerned with numbers, the normal majority loves Apple's system.

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Silver badge

Agree, with caveat

I'm typing this on a Nexus One and it remains obvious to me that the iPhone is the better end-to-end experience. However, this article is essentially about hearts and minds of developers, and they do care about SDK restrictions and approval processes. Apple are walking a real tightrope in termsod long-term platform viability with their arbitrary and variably applied policies.

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Jobs Halo

100% Agree

Now, I started programming when we were taught Fortran IV and assembly. I've coded professionally in several assemblers, C, Turbo Pascal, and a bunch of higher level languages. I can and have coded in APL, sometimes for fun. I can out-geek most when pressed.

And I think the iPhone STILL rocks, for all of the reasons DeRos says above. It's not about how open or closed it is, it is totally about user experience. Having recently worked for a mobile carrier and carried a toolbox of phones around every day (I had to check our portal experience and ad serving!), the iPhone is the only one that I actually wanted to carry (caveat: loved my BB Bold for email though).

This talk of pixels, screens, software standards, etcetera misses the whole point: it isn't what goes into making it a phone that matters, it is what it DOES...or doesn't do. And it is hard to find any phone that DOES more than an iPhone.

I feel sorry for those in the US, that can't get the iPhone on a decent carrier though...many of them DO have a legitimate reason for choosing an alternative...a second-rate phone on a good carrier may well be better than the best phone on a poor carrier in your area.

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Heart

Oh noes "The Normal Majority"

"Aside from hopeless geeks concerned with numbers, the normal majority loves Apple's system."

Ah that'll be the famous "Daily Mail" postulate - you know, the supposedly white, heterosexual "English" male that is always in the "normal majority" of "law-abiding citizens", while these criminal "Swan Roasting Albanians" get away with their rubbish living on benefits.

No seriously - being a ...erm ... shall we say .. "devotee" of something as mundane as a piece of mass-produced circuitry made in China is rather lame.

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Boffin

Killer apps not about open vs closed

"Killer app? Give me a break, most of what comes from an open system is crap. "

Yes, and most of what comes from closed systems is crap. The crap is not a side effect of the nature of the system; it's a side effect of the nature of development. Don't believe me? Go to Apple's app store, and go through all of the apps, and ask yourself how many of those you really want to pay for (or even how many of the free ones you want taking up space on your device). If your answer is over 1%, you're either lying, or you're insane.

A killer app isn't about quality, or about tech numbers. A killer app is simply any application or feature of a device which entices large numbers of people to get that device. It's a marketing term, not a technical term. Steve Jobs isn't afraid of killer apps coming specifically from open systems; he's afraid of killer apps showing up anywhere other than on an Apple device, because that will take market share away from his company.

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@Steven Knox

You got it right "Yes, and most of what comes from closed systems is crap."

The poster made an unwarranted association between a closed platform and better quality, and between open platform and poor quality.

Some of the best applications happen to be open sourced.

I think the poster also missed the fact that "high quality" closed applications could be sold on an open platform, and that "low quality" open applications can be sold on the closed platform (assuming they get passed the apple censors).

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Silver badge

@Robert Hill

I have a similar Geek-profile to you, Bob, but I keep looking at friends' iPhones and wondering "what were you thinking?" Chief amongst my list of cons is that it's a really crap telephone.

I hate getting calls from people using iPhones as the shitty microphone means it's hard to hear them. If the iPhone was free with a box of Frosties or something then fair enough, but for hard cash I really expect something better.

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LDS
Silver badge

Permission required for each interpreted code?

"Unless otherwise approved by Apple in writing, no interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application". That's funny. It's not the interpreter or application that needs written approval, it's the interpreted code. Does one need to have written approval for each piece of interpreted code downloaded or used?

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Thumb Up

Just write a compiler.

Clause pwnt.

Nothing interpreted in the implied sense of the word.

Not difficult for something simple. Many done on the arm. Honestly, even a simple macro assembler would technically be outside this clause.

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Stop

Forgive me....

.....for being Captain Stupid but why does Microsoft get hung drawn and quartered for bundling intershit explorer with it's o/s and Apple get to do whatever the fuck they want to whomever they want?

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A title is required

Microsoft was hung, drawn, and quartered because under US law, it is not illegal to be a monopoly, but it IS illegal to leverage a monopoly position in one market in order to dominate a different market.

Many folks don't understand the law, and believe that a company is not allowed to have a monopoly position. That's not true; it only becomes a problem when the company seeks to exploit their monopoly status in different markets.

For example, Standard Oil used to ship so much of their oil by rail that they were able to dictate to the rail shipping companies how much they could charge for shipping competitors' products, and even for shipping cargo that had nothing to do with oil at all. Since Standard Oil was by far the rail shipper's biggest company, they were able to leverage their near-monopoly in oil into a near-monopoly into real shipping as well. (At one point, they were even making a tariff on oil shipped by other companies.)

Similarly, Internet Explorer's bundling with Windows was an attempt to extend a monopoly in one arena (desktop operating systems) into a monopoly in a different arena (Web browsing, and ultimately Web development, since people tend to code to the dominant browsers). That's why they got drawn and quartered.

If Apple had a monopoly on cell phones, and then tried to extend that monopoly into, say, game console development, by somehow using their cell phone monopoly to, I don't know, force Sony to rewrite their terms for PS3 development, then they'd be doing something similar.

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Captain .....

OK. I forgive you - you obviously can't help it. But you really shouldn't talk about yourself that way - even if it's true.

If you really want to become educated, learn a little bit about antitrust laws. Apple, with 3% of the cell phone market and 20% of the smart phone market doesn't have a controlling market position. Microsoft, with 97% of the OS market, obviously did.

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Forgiven

If you go and look up what a monopoly is and how one abuses it.

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FAIL

No forgiveness...

because this question has been asked and answered so many times before. Microsoft have a near monopoly in the PC operating system market. Apple don't have anything like a monopoly anywhere.

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not entirely true red bren...

what is it that you call an ipod when it isn't made by apple again?

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Boffin

@oddie

These days, Dyson probably sell more machines than anyone else, but we still call them 'Hoovers' - the iPod is clearly the brand leader, but nowhere near to being a monopoly.

Call me weird, but I like things to just work, particularly when they are 'appliances' of one kind or another. As someone pointed out before, there are just as many useless apps available for iPhone as there are for Android, but at least I know that when I find something that looks usefull to me, it isn't going to kill my device, which is a very real possibility on open-access devices. If I want to do serious development of my own, then I will do it on a Linux box, but I can see no great reason for wanting to hack around on a phone.

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Grenade

Android will win

The naysayers who are pooing on Android can have the iPhone. I'm never going to buy a closed platform Phone that restricts my choices on apps, limits where I can buy them from, and prevents me from having a "killer app" out of fear that it could be cross platform, ultimately dropped from the iPhone at some point, or that it could run better on another platform. iPhone had the market to itself until Android arrived. More important than all of this is the fact that new iPhone customers (= NON FANBOIS) will not get unlimited data plans because AT&T has done away with them. So the killer feature (unlimited data) that makes the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, worth having to deal with AT&T's service, is gone. Everyone else intends to maintain unlimited data plans. Guess what that means? iPhone/data cap, Android, unlimited data. You may not think that Android 2.2 doing Flash natively means anything, but we will see.

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FAIL

Fail-o-rama

This stinks of a monoply, but that's why I bought an android device. Works just as well, if not better (for me). It definitely has more features including Flash, which works really well despite Job's "Claims".

I can create whatever I want for my device and other's without having to purchase a developer license and without having to be shafted in the arse by the Picard-emulating Jobs. I don't have to worry that my legitimate business may be eradicated by the Apple police overnight over some childish inter-industry spat and not be able to challenge the reasoning at all.

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Alien

I don't think that word means what you think it means...

"This stinks of a monoply, but that's why I bought an android device."

Monopoly: " a company or group having exclusive control over a commodity or service : areas where cable companies operate as monopolies."

I have 3 sony-ericsson phones, a nokia and a motorola phone and most of my co-workers have android phones. At my previous company it was blackberrys. Maybe 1 out of 10 or more had iPhones.

Google has stitched up most of the search market. Aren't you supporting a monopoly when you support Google's platform?

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Anonymous Coward

It's spelled 'M-O-N-O-P-O-L-Y"...

and what I think you mean is "anti-trust". Of course, you realise that technically, Google have a total monopoly over the Android OS and that with ~86% of all searches being conducted with Google, they have not only an effective monopoly over search but also an effective monopoly in the area of on-line advertising? What you are suggesting is that Apple are being anti-competitive WRT development on their *propriety* platform. As for the rest of your missive, well done. Here is a medal and a slice of cake.

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FAIL

Do you know what a monopoly is?

"This stinks of a monoply, but that's why I bought an android device."

If it was monopoly, Android wouldn't be a choice.

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Thumb Up

Wow!

You sir, have summarised competition law (or at least one aspect of it) beautifully. I tip my hat to you.

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title is required

Ah, but Android OS is opensource and free, so while google controls android os trunk, anyone can spinoff their own version of android for free, without approval. iOS? completely closed.

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FAIL

So?!

How does an OS being free (it's not really, BTW) and opensource make a difference Einstein?! Forking OSS has *nothing* to do with monopoly.

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Pint

Funny thing

Apple introduced a way for Adobe to use h.264 hardwaresupport frame by frame in OS X 10.6.3, they sent their Safari team to Adobe to help Adobe with XCode compiler options and OS X APIs.

And guess what? Flash Player 10.1 does not use h.264 hardwaresupport on OS X!

From a developers point of view, yes a restricted device is somewhat annoying, but did we complain that we couldn't use Flash on Solaris/Sparc or AIX or HP-UX? Or that this nice piece of TurboBasic Code wouldn't run on MPE V on a HP 3000 Micro XE?

The problem with the idevices is, they are wider deployed as most other devices.

So there is a big potential to market ones program if one could port it to these idevices, but one can't.

Like that piece of cr..., sorry, fine program I put together in TurboBasic on my 286 then and had to learn Cobol to do it again on MPE V :-)

Beer, although coffee would be better for a long porting session

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Linux

vdpau and the Jobs RDB

> Apple introduced a way for Adobe to use h.264 hardwaresupport frame by frame in OS X

> 10.6.3, they sent their Safari team to Adobe to help Adobe with XCode compiler options and OS

> X APIs.

>

> And guess what? Flash Player 10.1 does not use h.264 hardwaresupport on OS X!

Yes. That's because Apple pretty much literally just last week released the sort of API that Linux has had for YEARS. Apple is even behind the "freetards".

This is what platform tyranny gets you. You are bested by a bunch of "hobbyists".

Adobe rightfully gets crap for not supporting Windows in a timely manner or supporting Linux at all. If Adobe doesn't have good acceleration support for MacOS, that's all on Apple.

A multi-platform vendor standard sucks. A single platform vendor standard sucks even more.

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OSX Programs can use h.264 acceleration for quite some time now

even Applescript can. But by passing the steam to QTKit and not frame by frame so you can insert personalized ads anywhere in the video.

And where does Flash Player 10.1 use h.264 acceleration? 32bit IE7 on Windows 7 with a small selection of graphics cards, none of which I own :(

My Windows 7 Ultimate box has an ATI 3870, no hardware acceleration short of buying a 4xxxx card, my Linux Box has a NVidia 8500GT, no need to buy a newer card since we won't get any hardware acceleration.

Don't get me started on 64bit support.

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really?

I could've sworn that those OS X apis weren't "public" at the time of testing so they (adobe) couldn't release the support for them: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashplayer10/gala . Seems like they held it off a bit so they could maybe do some more testing? You know, putting out a quality product and all.

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FAIL

Jobs

what a wanker!

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Dead Vulture

Umm

How is this "yet another indication that Jobs is restricting iPhone development not so much to control security and performance, but to keep particular applications from particular companies off Apple handhelds"? I agree it MAY be an indication of the above, but nothing in this move actually contradicts His Steveness' earlier statements on security and performance. If Apple has to rubber stamp every use of such code, then surely they'll claim

to screen strictly for performance and security. Regardless of whether this is true, the move reported here doesn't really stand as enough proof, to my mind, that it isn't true. We need a few dots between the two points, methinks. Come on Reg, let's have a bit more reason and even-handedness. Otherwise you just look like idiots for mocking other people for behaving like cultists while yourself displaying all of the zealotry and lack of reasoned judgement of a cultist.

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Gold badge

Why do end users care?

Honestly, why would end users care about this? the only people whining are lazy developers!

When you look at the quantity of software on the Mac it is generally better than Windows, less annoyances and more thought has been put into it.

Windows has quantity, but not quality. I think I'd sooner have quality on the iPhone.

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Go

Steam author seems to agree

http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/05/mac-lags-windows-in-gaming-performance-excels-at-stability.ars

While Windows has better gfx performance than the Mac, according to Valve, they said the following about stability:

"Also, said Newell, 'what's sort of surprising is how much more stable our games are on the Mac.' Looking at the early data available from the Steam client, 'the Mac is five times more stable than Windows' when using the metric of minutes played versus number of crashes."

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The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Doesn't seem surprising to me at all considering the lack of variation in Mac hardware. It would be far more interesting to see proper metrics on the crashes to see what it was that was causing the crashes, but I'm guessing it's more likely to be graphics drivers than anything else, and this is the price of speed. I also wouldn't agree with Gabe, graphics intensive games are still appearing on a regular basis (maybe not quite as much as 13 years ago, but hey..) and if you look at the games available on the Mac via Steam, I still wouldn't say it's anywhere near a good gaming platform. While there's now Steam support, it's still going to take a long, long time, and a lot of persuasion that it's a profitable platform to develop for (is there really a big enough market share of gamers to justify spending money on porting it? Especially if Direct3D is still a pretty favoured platform? Even moreso since Macs don't support OpenGL 3, you get the picture..).

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Paris Hilton

Maybe its just me

but I cannot get on with apple products, god knows I have tried, but the mouse with no buttons is a non starter along with the GUI on Macs which is just odd.

As for the iPhone/Touch I cannot get to grips with it either whereas my HTC Hero was out of the box simple. I am no techy either and have managed to stick Ubuntu on mine and my kids netbooks with no hassle either, it just works.

That aside I think the walled garden is ultimately bad for Apples long term future, especially if it spreads to the OSX platform as there are simply not enough units out in the world for developers to take it seriously as a stand alone development once your into the general computer marketplace.

Add to that the rapid growth of SaaS and pretty soon the only thing that will really matter outside of niche items will be the way the box connects to the interwebs and which browser it runs and if your walled garden means the browser doesnt cut the mustard then your stuffed.

I also question the ethics of a dev system that allows certain key players who generate a lot of revenue for Apple via the itunes store to effectively circumvent the SDK licence. We cant wobble boobs or club seals but we can hijack cars, murder people and visit hookers on something like GTA. But then free boob wobbling and seal clubbing dont make any money for the cult.

Paris, she probably cant work a mac either

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Uninformed

@nsid:

"but I cannot get on with apple products, god knows I have tried, but the mouse with no buttons is a non starter along with the GUI on Macs which is just odd."

So the fact that you're uninformed is Apple's problem?

As for the mouse, the standard Apple mice all have at least 2 buttons - they're just not physical. You click differently. But if you're really stuck on having a mouse with 10 buttons, you can use almost all of them on Macs. So your reasoning doesn't make sense.

As for an 'odd' GUI, that's a really bizarre statement since the GUI of every modern computer system has almost all of the same features as the Mac's GUI (I'm not going to get into who is copying whom at this point). The Mac's is less cluttered and more usable than the others, but there's not enough difference to pull one out and call it 'odd'.

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Unhappy

Well, yes actually

Joe - I'd agree with you completely, only for the overlooked fact that Apple bang on incessantly about how their stuff "just works". (Or, in the case of the iPad, "you already know how to use it").

If they say things like "it just works" and "it's intuitive" and "you already know how to use it" when selling the product, and then someone buys the product and finds that actually it's *not* something intuitive, it doesn't just work and they don't know how to use it, then yes it is Apple's problem.

As with anyone working in IT who gets the dubious honour of being the Extended Family IT Support Droid, I dislike the Magic Box approach to computers. Apple are trying quite hard to outdo Microsoft in that arena, and deserve any grief they get over it.

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For Unity, etc

Unity uses Javascript for game logic; since iPhones and iPads are a key target for Unity devs this is great.

So this is serving the interests of Apple in promoting their mobile devices as a gaming platform.

Apple: open when it makes them money.

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Thumb Up

I CAN HAZ SCRIPTING?

Unity uses Javascript, C# or Boo as choices for programming language.

For my business's iOS development we use Unity and C# -- so I'm very glad that Apple has eased up on their TOS. This approach also enables development on Android, and we'll use these cross-platform tools to get our software working on those devices too at some point.

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FAIL

Just Make the applications reliable

http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/fail_32.png

My disabled daughter is fed up getting applications from the iCrap store using them for a short while, being told there is an 'update' only to find that the applications no longer work. They are still advertised for the ipod touch so have not been withdrawn but she cannot use them. so that is a big no 'Thank you' to paranoid failure steve job.

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Thumb Down

Um....

....how is it relevant here that your daughter is disabled? Sorry, that jarred for me, a bit.

GJC

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