Sunday, March 9, 2008

The iPhone Software Development Kit Podcast

Mike Q and I recorded "The iPhone Software Development Kit" podcast today. Below are the show notes. You can listen directly by turning up your speakers and clicking here. If you have iTunes installed you can get this one, listen to others and subscribe to our podcasts by following this link.
If you don't have iTunes and want to listen to other podcasts and read shownotes you can click here.


Intro: On Thursday, March 6, 2008, Apple released the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) beta along with the App Stores, a place where iPhone users will be able to get applications written for the iPhone. Apple also launched the Enterprise Beta Program.

Gordon: Mike, can you give us a quick rundown on what Apple released on Thursday?
Sure, much of our discussion today is based on an excellent post at titled The iPhone Software FAQ. Macworld editors Jason Snell, Jonathan Seff, Dan Moren, Christopher Breen, and Rob Griffiths contributed to this article. They also thank Glenn Fleishman, Craig Hockenberry, and Daniel Jalkut for their feedback and contributions.

Here's how Macworld answered the question:

The SDK is a set of tools that lets independent programmers and software companies design, write, and test software that runs on the iPhone. Right now there's a beta version for developers, but a final version of the iPhone software that supports the installation of new programs written by independent programmers is due in late June.

As a part of the announcement, Apple introduced a new iPhone program, App Store, through which you'll be able to purchase, download, and update iPhone software. That will be available as part of the new iPhone Software 2.0 update in late June. That's when you'll be able to add third-party apps to your iPhone for the first time, at least via official channels.

Gordon: You blogged about you experience with the SDK - can you tell us your first experience?
I downloaded the new iPhone SDK and wrote about my first impressions. I did quite a bit of FORTRAN programming many years ago > 10, but haven't done a whole lot lately. The SDK took a long time to download -2 Gig - over my wireless connection. And about 45 minutes to install. I also downloaded a couple of the sample applications Apple provides ~ 1 Meg each. In about 15 minutes - would have been shorter if I knew what I was doing - I was able to open the sample, compile and run on the simulator Apple provides.

I have no doubt that this is going to have a huge impact on mobile application development. It's really easy and really cool. If you teach programming - I suggest you download the SDK today, install it in your labs, and have your kids developing and running native iPhone apps by Monday afternoon. Get the SDK here. Even better, download Jing have your students record the simulator running their iPhone apps and embed in your department or faculty webpage - great for marketing! Wish I was 20 again!

Gordon: And you actually compiled a little Kalimba (African Thumb Piano) app. Where can we have a look?
You can go to my blog at

Gordon: Apple is taking 30% of what is sold from the App Store - will shareware apps be available or will we have to pay for everything?

That's a good question and one that was sort of answered in the post. Macworld assumes Apple won’t let you sell a “free” program that requires an unlock code. However, there are some other scenarios we expect to see. First, donationware: People will probably sell “free” programs that request that you make a donation if you want to keep the project going. We don’t think Apple will have any problem with that, since the donation would be voluntary. Second, it’s possible that you’ll see two versions of various iPhone programs: a free “lite” version that’s a good advertisement for a more feature-rich for-pay version.

Macworld also mentions Iconfactory’s Twitterrific, a Mac program that is free, but contains ads. For an “upgrade” fee, users can shut off the ads. Whether Apple would allow this to be handled within the program or there would need to be two separate versions of an iPhone version of Twitterrific remains to be seen.

Gordon: On Thursday, five companies demo'ed applications - can you give us a brief summary of what was shown?
From Macworld: Five companies showed off what they were able to put together with two weeks of engineering work and very few people involved. There were games from Electronic Arts (Spore) and Sega (Super Money Ball), an AIM client from AOL, medical software from Epocrates, and business software from The programs took advantage of the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer, Multi-Touch capabilities, interface elements, and more.

Gordon: I'm going to go back to the Macworld post again and take some questions directly from that FAQ for you to answer:

1. What kind of stuff does Apple say it won’t allow developers to create?
2. What if someone writes a malicious program?
3. What’s a “bandwidth hog?”
4. Can I buy these programs on my Mac, or just on the iPhone?
5. What about software updates?
6. What if you’ve synced your phone on one computer and then restore it on another? Do you lose your apps until you sync to the original?
7. If I buy a program for my iPhone, can I also transfer it to my significant other’s iPhone?
8. Can I download programs off the Web, or any place other than the App Store and iTunes?
9. What about internal, “private” software? What about beta testing?
10. Can I try the iPhone SDK and how could it be used in the classroom?

Gordon: Apple posted a roadmap video - can you tell us a little bit about that?
You can watch Steve Job's presentation and see what's ahead at

We hope you enjoy this 48 minute podcast!

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