Thursday, March 06, 2008

The iPhone SDK: Revealed

Well Apple released the details of the iPhone SDK today, and I have to say that what they unveiled was as much as I'd hoped and way better than I expected.

The Details:

Developing for the iPhone will utilize XCode and will include the use of an iPhone simulator (yea!) so that you can develop for the iPhone without always being tethered to your iPhone. Development will be done with "Cocoa Touch," an API optimized for iPhone AND iPod touch development. What's really cool is that the networking and media layers are virtually the same as for the desktop version of the OS and include both Core Animation and OpenGL for graphics as well as Core Audio and OpenAL for audio. Developers have access to much of the iPhone's hardware, including the accelerometer sensor and the camera. Awesome. This isn't a neutered SDK.

Applications will be distributed via both iTunes, and an on-phone app store, in much the same way that music and videos are now. Apple takes 30% off the top, and pays developers their 70% monthly. That's it though. For that 30% Apple takes care of EVERYTHING for you. That, I think, is awesome. This isn't just Apple collecting money in your name and taking a cut. No, this is Apple providing developers an easy, high-quality way to distribute their apps, and providing the users with a great, simple experience. Could you make more distributing apps yourself? Possibly, but fees for normal sales still range between 5% and 18%. Distributing on your own however would never get you in front of as many users as Apple's store will. It's hard to put a price on that. It's as if Apple is letting anyone into the Apple Store.

iPhone support for the enterprise is going to make the install base HUGE. Over 80% of enterprise users surveyed (online) by CNBC said they could use the iPhone for business once the announced changes for the enterprise are released.

One odd turn was the announcement of the iFund, a $100 million venture capital fund for iPhone developers. What this means, and how you get funding wasn't detailed, but it's just strange to see this happen, when really, it'd have been nice to see something like this for Mac apps YEARS ago.

We're getting the beta SDK as soon as Apple's servers can handle the load. I plan to start playing with it ASAP. The full version of the SDK will be made available in June (at WWDC) so apps won't ship until then. This means that we all have plenty of time to work on our iPhone apps in the interim. I can't wait...

[Update: More developers chime in with interesting thoughts - Hello App Store, Obligatory iPhone SDK post]


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