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No iPhone SDK Means No iPhone Killer Apps 657

Posted by kdawson
from the dang-no-photoshop dept.
iPhoneLover/Hater writes "Gizmodo is running an article analyzing the potential failure of the iPhone as a truly revolutionary platform. The reason: no SDK to harness the true power of Mac OS X and the frameworks contained in Apple's smart cell. From the article: 'According to Apple, "no software developer kit is required for the iPhone." However, the truth is that the lack of an SDK means that there won't be a killer application for the iPhone. It also means the iPhone's potential as an amazing computing and communication platform will never be realized. And because of this and no matter how Apple tries to sell it, the iPhone won't make a revolution happen.'"
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No iPhone SDK Means No iPhone Killer Apps

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  • well.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by untaken_name (660789) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:51PM (#19481723) Homepage
    you say you want a revolution, well you know, we all want an SDK.
    • Revolutions... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by danpsmith (922127) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:36PM (#19482361)
      You know the usage of the term "revolution" to describe a cell phone device just makes me sad as a 21st century man. The fact that this is what we apply the term to nowadays shows our supreme lack of imagination or want for something better. If we could have the type of revolution our forefathers had for silly import taxes for health coverage, worker's rights ,the ability for criminal corporations to poison our environment, politicians that adhere to big business's needs more than the will of the people, that'd be really doing something, but no, we'd rather have a phone "revolution." How far we've fallen.
      • Re:Revolutions... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by untaken_name (660789) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:53PM (#19482641) Homepage
        From dictionary.com:

        revolution /rvlun/
        -noun ...
        3. a sudden, complete or marked change in something ...

        Sometimes, words mean more than just one thing. I don't think anyone's referring to a violent overthrow of the cellular phone government. I think they meant a sudden, marked change in cellular phones. I mean, sure, you have good ideas and everything, but I think you're overreacting on this one. Not that I disaprove of overreacting. I enjoy it as much as the next guy.

        Also, you shouldn't be a 21st century man. You should be a 21st century digital boy because it sounds so much better.
      • by gkhan1 (886823) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (nossdravgisrakso)> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:30PM (#19483165)

        You know the usage of the term "revolution" to describe a cell phone device just makes me sad as a 21st century man. The fact that this is what we apply the term to nowadays shows our supreme lack of imagination or want for something better. If we could have the type of revolution our forefathers had for silly import taxes for health coverage, worker's rights ,the ability for criminal corporations to poison our environment, politicians that adhere to big business's needs more than the will of the people, that'd be really doing somethin

        You know the usage of the term "revolution" to describe political affairs just makes me sad as a 17th century man. The fact that this is what we apply the term to nowadays shows our supreme lack of imagination or want for something better. If we could have the type of revolution our forefathers had using timber logs, potter's wheels, the ability for criminal corporations roll their carriages, politicians that adhere to big business's needs for more mobile cannons, that'd be really doing somethin.

    • Re:well.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by catwh0re (540371) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:55PM (#19483467)
      this has been such a storm in a teacup.

      I'm not sure if it's a willingness to publish anything that contains the word "iPhone" or a legitimate interest in development. But unless you're interested in turning your iPhone into a wifi scanner. (Something probably best left to the laptop anyway since it's got a fair few more MHz to waste.) Then I'm finding the SDK really unnecessary. The iPhone isn't a computer replacement, it's got a lowly powered set of hardware which is ideal for a phone, but not for a complex application. If you want to develop strong apps for the road use a laptop.. If you want to develop referencing apps, lookup programs etc, then just use AJAX on the iPhone.

      I don't think anyone is going to get an icon on the main screen for a long time. (I don't think it's necessary either.)


      With all that said, I have seen some very fun hobbyist applications for mobile platforms (e.g. like the palm programmable remote.) However I think it's the hobbyists that will hack away at the iPhone (with knowledge that it's just OSX) and figure out how to make their own mini-apps anyway.

      • Re:well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dslbrian (318993) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @05:47PM (#19484023)

        Then I'm finding the SDK really unnecessary. The iPhone isn't a computer replacement, it's got a lowly powered set of hardware which is ideal for a phone, but not for a complex application. If you want to develop strong apps for the road use a laptop.. If you want to develop referencing apps, lookup programs etc, then just use AJAX on the iPhone.

        Not all apps need to be "killer" powerful apps. One thing I would like on my phone is a decent ebook reader. After all if the iPhone is good enough to read the web with it should be good enough to read a book on. Its unlikely to happen however given their stance. Such a simple app, really nothing more than a glorified text reader, would be trivial to make given a basic SDK. (I wouldn't have to carry around the Palm anymore which would be nice) An app like that isn't really a good fit for AJAX either, you don't want to use airtime to read an ebook.

        I can think of a couple others off the top of my head. An encrypted password manager such as KeyPass would be useful (you don't really want to be passing passwords and whatnot across the net if you don't have to). Also a decent text editor, or simple notebook/list app, would be another (as opposed to the pure reader you would have in an ebook app).

        However its sounding like Apple, like every other wireless carrier, wants to have the phone completely locked down. I tend to agree with the article, no SDK is just going to limit the phone's potential.

      • Re:well.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by enjo13 (444114) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @06:09PM (#19484241) Homepage
        That shows a supreme lack of imagination. Look at Palm, with it's thousands of apps (big and small) that enable it to be so much more than Palm ever envisioned. The same goes for Symbian... so much of the power of those devices is in the truly clever and innovative ideas that the third parties bring to those platforms. Even the most basic functions have benefited from third party development. You can find improvements in security, contact management, and a host of other functions on those other platforms. The OEM's provide a platform, the development community makes it better.

        The tragedy here is that the iPhone provides even more opportunities for real innovation. With thousands of developers (the world over) building on top of the work Apple has already done we would have seen truly stunning advances in both the functionality and the form of the iPhone.

        The iPhone may not be a computer replacement, but that doesn't mean it's not a computing device with immense potential.
        • Re:well.. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ruzel (216220) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @07:13PM (#19484775) Homepage
          > The OEM's provide a platform, the development community makes it better.

          The platform is Safari. The development community can make web 2.0 apps. Google Maps, Flickr, Digg, Yahoo Pipes, Delicious... these ARE the killer apps of the last 5 years and iPhone will run them all and allow them to interface with the phone and the user's data. Nothing more to see here.
          • Re:well.. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by that this is not und (1026860) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:03PM (#19486123)
            Google Maps, Flickr, Digg, Yahoo Pipes, Delicious... these ARE the killer apps of the last 5 years

            Well, they're the budget (phone bill) and battery killers, anyway.

            I don't get it when people start saying 'it is underpowered to run any real apps.'

            Compare it to what Apple was selling as their powerful high-end desktop machine a decade ago.

            As was said earlier in the thread, a lot of cool stuff has been rolled for PalmOS, as an example of a similar platform with an open SDK.
            • Re:well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

              by ruzel (216220) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:20PM (#19486243) Homepage
              > I don't get it when people start saying 'it is underpowered to run any real apps.'

              Agreed. That's just silly. There's plenty of firepower there. However, Apple definitely wants that 8gig of hard drive space filled up with music and movies from iTunes and NOT the latest bloatware from Adobe or Microsoft. I think that's one of the major reasons for this move. However, I also think that this could also be akin to getting rid of the disk drive in the iMac. Yes, other smart phones have SDKs for developing software, but then, none of those other phones have a decent enough UI or a browser totally capable of running web 2.0 apps. And Look! It's only been 2 days since the announcement and already there are 2 web apps out for the iPhone:

              Onetrip (Only viewable with Safari):
              http://www.mrgan.com/onetrip/help.php?browser=fals e [mrgan.com]

              Digg:
              http://davidcann.com/iphone/ [davidcann.com]

              That was quick. Maybe all you compile code junkies need to start brushing up on your XML, SOAP, and AJAX. ;)
            • Re:well.. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by gig (78408) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @07:54AM (#19489709)
              > I don't get it when people start saying 'it is underpowered to run any real apps.'

              You also have to consider space and heat and battery life, not just specs or GHz.

              For example, the AppleTV has a 1 GHz Intel chip in there, but it is supposed to sleep almost all of the time. When a movie is running, it's decoded by the NVIDIA chip in the graphics adapter. If you do something with your AppleTV that makes the CPU run (like decoding Flash video from YouTube with a third-party plug-in) then you are going to have to get some air around that AppleTV, and it's likely it won't last as long as if you only run H.264 through it. That's why part of Apple's YouTube on AppleTV announcement was Google converting YouTube to MPEG-4 H.264.

              Same sort of thing goes for iPhone. Although it has a 1 GHz ARM chip which sounds fast, that is not a PC CPU, it lacks stuff we take for granted on PC's, Apple had to use LLVM to emulate some PC stuff, and to get 5 hours of battery and no first-degree burn on your palm, you have to use the device pretty much as Apple intended, so that their optimizations hold, same as AppleTV. As far as I can tell, there is no Adobe Flash in iPhone because Flash video requires a full PC, that is always required to decode a software codec. The iPhone does its H.264 in an H.264 chip. So you can't assume the iPhone can play all video formats because it can play Pirates of the Caribbean in H.264.

              If they could run iMovie on there, I think they would. They have 10 years of iMovie development they could leverage. The "iTunes" that is on the iPhone is also not the real iTunes, which is a "Carbon" Mac app, it's 10 years old also, of course it is a little iTunes for iPhone, specifically optimized. No doubt what is in the iPhone is all from OS X, but it's just the minimal shit. It's like the first iPod had the same font as the first Mac, but don't think that the Finder is in there.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dave420 (699308)
            If you think those are as killer as apps could get on a phone, you need some help. Seriously. I'm thinking about killer apps like routing calls through wifi instead of the cell network, or voip using unlimited data plan instead of voice calls, etc. Web 2.0 is bullshit. It's a marketing term people throw about in meetings to make it seem like they somehow understand technology, when really they're just referring to techniques and technologies people have been using for years. It's all bullshit, and no p
        • Re:well.. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by shmlco (594907) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @07:30PM (#19484955) Homepage
          On the flip side, go up to Handango and check out the "applications" for a PDA. Top sellers including a replacement for the shell, a program to make the close button "work", a file explorer, a backup program, a ringtone manager, several clocks, a weather widger, note and to-do list managers, yada, yada...

          In other words, things that any decent system should have been able to do out of the box, and nary a one a "stunning" advance. And, near as I can tell, the iPhone already all of these things out of the box. And, from what I've seen, does most of them extremely well.

          I agree that the iPhone has immense potential. But I also think that forecasting doom-and-gloom before the first one has even been sold is as equally shortsighted as you're making Apple out to be.

          If I had the time, I know I'd be looking hard at what could be done NOW with an always-on always-connected phone/internet device and making that a "killer-app", instead of wasting time crying over the tools I could have had...
          • Re:well.. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by catwh0re (540371) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @10:08PM (#19486153)
            An amazing amount of common sense in that post. I don't know if perhaps the Apple brand has become too mainstream thus leading too many people with partial understanding of their existing and up-coming products to chime in with nonsensical memes or inaccurate fact bashing. (Or the fact that the community loves to build em up just to rip em down.) But I'm noticing a very loud anti-Apple audience fueled by mostly insignificant issues. I can only think the bad karma started with the iPod battery problems. (While I don't believe it's reasonable to have to replace an iPod for a new battery, I do know that there are many services that will replace the iPod batteries, and in my own personal experience through a few iPods I have never experienced any issues with batteries. - But people who are problem free never speak up in outrage, so the iPod bashing was a self-selected movement.)

            This SDK argument is a good example of this. The phone isn't even in a consumers hand and we're finding posts like Apple have been denying the tech community through years of closed platform abuse. Anyone who actually has any history with Apple recognise a few aspects about them which has made them a muchly appreciated company in the tech community.
            The most important aspect is that unlike a larger portion of the tech community - Apple almost always gives consumers what they demand: From somehow negotiating DRM free music to adding almost every sought after feature into OS X (even old ideas such as multiple desktops). Apple have a long history of giving consumers what they want. If consumers want a particular app for the iPhone(and it's voiced through emails/community) it'll happen. Apple gets most of it's cred from continuing development of their products and software after the sale. I can think of numerous applications that Apple have released for no charge, including much of the iLife suite(iTunes, iMovie & iPhoto started free, free instruments for Garage band), Safari(version 1), iChat, iCal, iPod feature updates including new codec support, YouTube for AppleTV, and i think even the dvd player in the 10.2 days. Plus a few more I can't remember off the top of my head

            With Apple's success with the closed iPod they didn't foresee that there would be such a vocal outburst for an SDK so early into the piece. Yet already they have begun to address SDK issues, firstly by promoting the web standards nature of the iPhone (which is really where the trend for apps is right now. Also of note is that they promoted this at the first iPhone keynote, except they called these widgets.) Further down the track, we will no doubt see some incarnation of an SDK for the iPhone. However there are definitely revisioning issues they'll address before that happens. (As we're likely to see more than one model of iPhone, and I doubt they'll have an SDK ready until the 3G model is released in Europe.)

  • by pudding7 (584715) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:51PM (#19481725)
    ...not the Declaration of Independence. What "revolution" did you envision a phone making? Suddenly people stop talking while driving? That would be revolutionary.
    • by ewhac (5844) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:28PM (#19482235) Homepage Journal
      The "revolution" that is sought (at least within the United States; the rest of the world has a functional cell phone market) would be to take away the wireless carriers' control over software on the handset.

      Ask any Verizon subscriber how "easy" it is to move address book contacts in and out of the handset. Or music. Or videos. Or any other kind of data.

      There are only two effective ways to break this control. One is legislative. (You can stop giggling now.) The other is for a handset maker to create a handset so powerful and compelling that people fall all over themselves to try and get one, and then for the maker to stand firm and refuse to give control of the handset to the carriers. Eventually, market pressure will force at least one carrier to cave in and take the phone as sold, after which, all the carriers will follow suit.

      Apple has an opportunity to help this happen, but it's not clear if they're interested in that outcome.

      Schwab

    • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:46PM (#19482535) Homepage Journal
      Next you'll be telling me the Mac is "just a computer"!
    • by sterno (16320) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:10PM (#19482903) Homepage
      What would be a revolution is a smart phone that doesn't crash and have to be rebooted periodically like all my Treo did and my T-Mobile Dash does. You know, a phone that... works? Working would be a solid leap forward :)

      It helps that the phone has a real browser and supports Ajax, but it's still limited. And how much fun will it be when you're important apps aren't working because you're in a tunnel, or the middle of nowhere where edge service is spotty. Eventually they'll need to provide a way for people to write apps for it.

      I think once they've established the credibility of the phone and that it's reliable, they'll be better positioned to open the platform up a bit more. Hell, they could put together a certification program that would get third party apps access to the Itunes store, or some such. They could make sure the apps are solid, and take a cut of the money at the same time.

  • No killer app? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SLOviper (763177) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:52PM (#19481729)
    "the lack of an SDK means that there won't be a killer application for the iPhone"

    Who's to say that Apple can't/won't write that killer app?
    • by mpapet (761907) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:06PM (#19481941) Homepage
      Seriously.

      The way that mobile phone industry works is the network provider is the only innovator. Perhaps the most famous example of this is music download service on mobile phone networks.

      Oh wait, what about all the java-enabled phones? Outside of games, there isn't much of an API to do anything else with it. And it's not like mobile java apps actually run everywhere.

      • by Aqua OS X (458522) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:34PM (#19482331)
        "the network provider is the only innovator"

        BS.
        Anything innovative in that market is almost always created by a third party and proposed a network provider. And network providers usually find a way to botch those things by turning them into restrictive billable services or features.

        The only innovative things network providers create are fees shorty, fees.
    • Re:No killer app? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JimNTonik (1097185) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:07PM (#19481943)
      The killer app is the phone, you don't need an SDK to call people. It was pretty clear months ago that Safari would be one of the primary development paths on the iPhone. They said from the get-go that it had a fully featured web browser on it, why are people suddenly giving this knee-jerk reaction when nothing's changed. They can release a real SDK in a year, or two years, or even more if they'd like - nobody should have been expecting more. This is classic Apple. That said Apple has said numerous times that the Killer App _is_ the phone. _If_ it does well, it'll be because of Apple's UI + vertical integration from the PC to the phone. Yes, they're targeting the smart phone market, but Apple will rely on their own tools for the time being - there's no need to let developers mess it up.
      • Re:No killer app? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by magarity (164372) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:45PM (#19482527)
        The killer app is the phone
         
        No, the phone has already been invented. The iPhone needs a killer app to keep from being a phone with an "up to 5 hours" battery, in which I (and probably a lot of people) have no interest. An SDK would let some clever person who doesn't work at Apple come up with something even the clever people there haven't thought of. Everything shown on the Apple site for the iPhone's software abilities (web browser, calculator, notes, clock, etc) are already done by other phones on the market now. So maybe the iPhone does those tasks in a more user friendly way; so what? Not enough to get many people to switch to such an expensive device. No, the killer app for the iPhone has yet to appear.
    • Re:No killer app? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Matt Perry (793115) <perry.matt54@NoSpam.yahoo.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:08PM (#19481947)

      Who's to say that Apple can't/won't write that killer app?
      You might be right but other people might be able to see something that Apple can't. The article brings up the Mac as a point of comparison. MacPaint was neat but Photoshop was one of the apps that made the Mac a must-have platform, and Photoshop didn't come from Apple.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by LWATCDR (28044)
        I have a sneaking feeling that safari is the API or close to it. I really doubt that IPhone is running a full version of OS/X. I have to assume that it is running an XScale CPU at probably 500 or so Mhx. It may have some dsp instructions but it most likely doesn't have an FPU. None of that is bad but it means that it is not close to as powerful as a Mac. It will not have a hard drive or virtual memory. It will have an MMU so it will not have what you or I think of as OS/X.
        Your right about Photoshop but a
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dr.badass (25287)
        MacPaint was neat but Photoshop was one of the apps that made the Mac a must-have platform, and Photoshop didn't come from Apple.

        Remember that Photoshop came five years after the Mac was introduced.

  • Another one? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Applekid (993327) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:52PM (#19481731)
    With all the stories about the iPhone and it's universally uncanny ability to suck/rule (depending on who's talking), I think we can all agree on one thing.

    It's not out yet.

    We *are* using the Firehose responsibly, right?
    • Thank you for the voice of reason. I'm so sick of hearing this or that prediction about the iPhone. I personally don't think it will be all that big, but I also don't really care either way. The important thing to note is *it is not out yet*, as you said. I wish people would just stop blathering about it until it is.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:59PM (#19481837)
        Are you crazy? I predict its going to be bigger than the segway.
      • This phone will live or die depending on how easy to use the mult-touch gizmos and UI are for the public. Period. People aren't going to abandon the familiarity of their iPod clickwheels and cellphone numberpads for something that's not as or more intuitive. Whether or not the iPhone is easy enough for them to ditch both of those remains to be seen, but even Uncle Walt seems to think it'll take some getting used to [macrumors.com].
        • by acidrain69 (632468) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:16PM (#19482057) Journal
          The phone will live or die based on the fact that it costs $500 with a 2 year contract. You can make a really nice car that gets 100 mpg, but if the market can't afford it, you aren't going to revolutionize anything. Sure, it may end up like the Newton, with a rabid following; and yeah, some of that functionality will trickle down and affect the industry. But talking about the success of this phone is silly; it just costs too much.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      We *are* using the Firehose responsibly, right?

      I can't help but notice that a user whose name is 'Applekid' is complaining about Slashdot reporting news that The Jobs himself delivered at the recent WWDC.

      So far we know of precisely one way apps will be available to the phone; via the web. It does seem likely that we will also be able to lay down files in the user's directory. But even if we can fullscreen the browser to run our apps, we still become dependent on a web browser and are not free to develop a

  • Unless... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) *
    Unless a programmer is good at Javascript, HTML...

    And could write killer App with that.

    I hate to sound like a Mac Fanboy but with some good Ajax codeing you could make a program that is as good as most other apps. Google shows that, and the fact you know the iPhone uses a more modern browser there is less multi-browser testing. And heck you iPhone Apps will run elsewhere too making them far more available.
    • Re:Unless... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cereal Box (4286) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:58PM (#19481823)
      Well, the problem with making AJAX the iPhone "SDK" is that the iPhone is 2.5G. Oops. Those neat-o AJAX apps won't be too much fun on a GPRS connection that is about as fast as a 56K modem (and in my experience, you get a burst of data, then nothing, then a burst, then nothing, ad infinitum).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy (595695)
        Not to mention the latency of internet on cell phones. Even on 56K modem the response time can be OK for Ajax stuff as long as you're not trying to send too much data. However with cell phones, the latency is so high, that even the "who want's to be a millionaire" game I run over my cell phone is painfully slow.
      • 802.11 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Gary W. Longsine (124661) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:45PM (#19482517) Homepage Journal
        Don't forget the iPhone has 802.11 networking built in. People spend so much time in hot spots these days that the lackluster performance of the EDGE network will be an occasional nuisance, not a crippling defect in the product. The future of 3G HSDPA [wikipedia.org] networks looks pretty bright, too.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by slimjim8094 (941042)
        BZZT. The iPhone is EDGE, which is not GPRS at all. And (in my experience) it's at least twice as fast. Fast enough to stream video with, anyways. And fast enough that browsing HTML would be, if not snappy, acceptable given someone were to make a device with a touchscreen running an AJAX browser, perhaps
    • by brunascle (994197)
      well, that wouldnt be a killer iPhone app, it would be a killer ajax app. there are already handhelds with javascript-enabled browsers, and i dont know of anyone mentioning any "killer ajax apps" for them.
    • by CoolVibe (11466)
      <quote>Unless a programmer is good at Javascript, HTML...<br>
      <br>
      And could write killer App with that.<br>
      <br>
      I hate to sound like a Mac Fanboy but with some good Ajax codeing you could make a program that is as good as most other apps. Google shows that, and the fact you know the iPhone uses a more modern browser there is less multi-browser testing. And heck you iPhone Apps will run elsewhere too making them far more available.</quote>
      <p>
      No, AJAX is terribly over
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613)
      with some good Ajax codeing you could make a program that is as good as most other apps. Google shows that

      Google shows that clever use of AJAX and related technologies can be used to create a web app that APPROACHES the quality of a desktop app, but they still haven't caught up 100%, or we'd all be using Google Docs instead of Word and OpenOffice.

      On a mobile device with limited CPU power as it is, every layer between the app and the hardware is a significant performance handicap. I'm not seeing the wisdom
  • Never!?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CarbonRing (737089) * on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:53PM (#19481757)
    Just because there's no SDK today doesn't mean there won't be one later this year.
  • fully agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garbletext (669861) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:54PM (#19481761)
    Apple is trying to defuse outrage over their refusal to provide an SDK (for "security"...) by saying "people can use rich web apps, it's the same thing!" This is incredibly disingenuous and I hope I'm not the only one who won't be getting an iPhone because of it's closed nature.
  • Article Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by umbrellasd (876984) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:54PM (#19481763)
    "If you do something revolutionary like make an SDK unnecessary, you will fail." -- The Establishment
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      "If you do something revolutionary like make an SDK unnecessary, you will fail." -- The Establishment

      "If you do something stupid like claim that an SDK is unnecessary, you will fail." -- The voice of reason

      There, fixed that for you.

      You will not have access to the full functionality of the phone through the browser. Period. End of story. There will be things you cannot do. People will want to do those things. They will need an SDK to do them. They will not have it.

      Apple is competing at a price point tha

  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:55PM (#19481785)
    YouTube was written without an SDK, at least no more, or no less, of an SDK than the iPhone has, and yet I'd call it a killer app.

    The notion that something has to be compiled into machine language to be a killer app is kind of wonky, if you ask me. Everyone out there already making clever web apps might have something to say about that.
  • Killer App? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by morari (1080535)
    It's a phone, get a fucking life! I swear, mobile telephones just keep getting more and more annoying.
  • Horse, cart, etc. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by richdun (672214) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:57PM (#19481813)
    While I agree that the lack of an SDK will deter many developers, let's not get too ahead of ourselves here. There is still a way to make your own apps for the thing, and that ALWAYS leads to some pretty interesting things. Remember, using AJAX-style apps on the iPhone only restricts what the client can do - you could still create the next Facebook, Flikr, del.icio.us, or whatever using whatever webserver you want. Besides, isn't an iPod that's also a phone, web browser, etc a killer app on its own?

    The biggest limitation I see is not the lack of a killer app(s), but the lack of free, easily accessible WiFi everywhere. You'll need a connection to something to use these apps, and with only a few cities and towns in US with decent WiFi blanketing, this may end up being a huge problem.

    But hey - if enough people buy the thing, and enough developers show that you can make it a viable platform, then we'll see some real innovation. Personally, I would love to see someone build a rich web app that could run as well on EDGE as it does on WiFi - and then spread that data efficiency over to the rest of the web.
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:58PM (#19481815)
    However, the truth is that the lack of an SDK means that there won't be a killer application for the iPhone.

    Right, 'cause it's impossible to develop software (and/or quality software) without an SDK. I guess we'll have to pull a MacGyver: get me Emacs, a compiler, some libraries, a pack of gum, some yarn, a can of WD-40 and some Hot Pockets...

  • by BlueMikey (1112869) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @02:58PM (#19481825)
    We know how terribly the iPod did without custom apps.
    • by kelzer (83087)

      We know how terribly the iPod did without custom apps.

      Damn, where are mod points when you need them? +1 Insightful.

    • by Cereal Box (4286) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:12PM (#19482009)
      OK... but no one really expected to run third-party apps on the iPod in the first place.

      The iPhone is essentially a handheld computer and is going up against other handheld computers, like the Treo and the Blackberry. Being able to write an arbitrary application that can access the phone's data and functionality is possible on those two devices (and has lead to some very useful applications), so naturally we're a little disappointed that the iPhone won't allow the same functionality.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iluvcapra (782887)

        OK... but no one really expected to run third-party apps on the iPod in the first place.

        And they still don't. Maybe a big part of consumer electronics is managing expectations and not over-promising, by positioning your product in a known niche with high demand and not getting side-tracked by your engineers who seem to want to put a JVM in EVERYTHING, if only because they can. "Do one job and do it well" isn't just for Unix.

        The iPhone is essentially a handheld computer and is going up against other handhe

  • No SDK means a lot harder to develop viruses and worms.
    • by argent (18001)
      Microsoft integrating the browser and the desktop was what caused the flood of exploits in the late '90s.

      Apple integrating the browser and the phone services will create a whole new set of security problems.
  • So because development can happen without a specific SDK, no one will develop anything amazing?

    I don't remember there being an SDK when Visicalc was created. Just an environment and a need. I think the point that any app could potentially work without specifically trying means the iPhone could be a 'Killer App-liance', rather than a device needing a 'Killer App'.
  • The WWDC demo showed AJAX apps on the iPhone calling into apps on the iPhone.

    I don't see a way that this can be done securely. Jobs says they're secure... but in context he means "it uses SSL". Jobs says they're sandboxed, but if they can place calls and access your local data then everything you care about in the phone is in the sandbox and open for a bad guy to mess around with.

    This might keep you from taking over the software radio and hax0ring the cellular system (but it won't keep the real bad guys fro
  • the browser is the target environment, so all that ajax-y web 2.0 tastiness that i hear is all the rage with the kids these days is there. so 'no sdk' really means 'no native sdk' and we've all seen how much that's hurt sites like flickr, picasa, etc.
  • If you haven't got them you're simply never going to get a big enough slice of the market for it to be profitable - and Apple have already limited the iPhone in terms of providers already. After years of not making any headway against Windows, and being beaten to a big slice of the big desktop pie (Apple pie?!), as well as seeing people run GPS applications and games like Splinter Cell on their phones, Apple just hasn't learned its lesson even now, has it?
  • by JimDaGeek (983925) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:04PM (#19481903)
    Did anyone watch WWDC? I did last night. The iPhone has the full WebKit framework which means any Web 2.0/Ajax app will run on it if it runs in Safari. You can do things through Ajax like make a phone call. They did a sweet demo where clicking on links would bring up the mail app, make a phone call through Safari, send an address to Google maps, etc.

    This seems like a good way to go IMO. You don't need to learn yet another SDK. If you can program with Javascript, HTML, you can make apps for the iPhone. If there is a bug in your app, you don't have to create a new installer and get that new version out to millions of people. Just update the code on your server and now all users have the latest-and-greatest.

    Through Safari, you will be able to do tons of things with the iPhone and web 2.0/Ajax stuff, all the core functions of the iPhone are available to you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      Did anyone watch WWDC? I did last night. The iPhone has the full WebKit framework which means any Web 2.0/Ajax app will run on it if it runs in Safari. You can do things through Ajax like make a phone call.

      I give it one week before someone has found a hole in the browser that permits them to make a phone call without your knowledge or permission.

      Apple's iPhone, bringing the power of the internet DDoS to phone systems worldwide.

      Note that several remote exploits have already been found in safari for window

    • by abes (82351) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @04:53PM (#19483443) Homepage
      Yes, that is something that most people seem to miss. IF the AJAX app runs locally, AND the use of Safari can be made transparent (e.g. essentially how Widgets work) then you can make some types of apps which will work okay. As Jobs pointed out, it will use Cocoa widgets, and be able to access features of the IPhone.

      But, here are my complaints as a programmer:
      (1) I hate Javascript. This isn't a language flame war. I've met very few people who like javascript. It takes a lot of effort to put together something that resembles a real-world app. Yes, google purchased several office tools that manage, but it doesn't mean its easy, and it doesn't mean its the right way to go about things. Also, those tools (as many have point out) still don't work properly under Safari.

      (2) If you do have to go through Safari, you don't get to write a First Class app. You still have to work around the interface elements of Safari. It will always look something like a web page running under Safari, even if the widgets look decent. Morever, if the app isn't stored locally (it could be, so this might all be irrelevant for the discussion), if you lose a connection, you are in trouble.

      Also, if I remember correctly, you can only 'browse the web' when you aren't talking on the phone. Will these apps suddenly become unavaiable because you receive a phone call?

      (3) There are a ton of apps you cannot do properly with AJAX. Things that require an interface + database can work fine. But, what if I want to write a game for the iPhone (I can imagine motion sensitive controls + dual touch screen can given room for some exciting possibilities)? As others pointed out, Jobs made a big deal that Google Maps was a real-app, and not from the web. Obviously he thinks there is an advantage. What if I want to make a scribble-pad for making drawn notes for myself? Personally, I would love a Python terminal. I can imagine a useful calculator program you could acheive with Python + matplotlib (actually, this you might be able to write with AJAX, though I think think it would be very pretty). Or howabout ssh? If it doesn't come with GPS, can we hope for anyone to write software that would allow a bluetooth GPS device? The ability to take pictures with GPS data, and mark up google maps would be great.

      It seems to me if Apple really wanted to control security on the IPhone, they would create a tiered layer for what interface an app is allowed to use. This way they could even allow TCP/IP, but throttle the I/O so that your device couldn't take down any networks.

      If I remember the keynote properly, Jobs didn't say there would be no SDK. Only that there would be no need. But, again, as others have pointed out, we knew about AJAX already. He's talking to *developers* at the WWDC. He has to know that most of the people there would know that AJAX was possible. So what was he really saying? (1) that the webkit was available, and (2) that you could access components of the IPhone using javascript.

      I suspect third-party developers will be allowed at least to make games. They have a few select games for the iPod, so it's not a wild conjecture. It's strange that Jobs would stress how the iPhone has OS X running underneath it, if it doesn't actually matter to the end user.

      Most people I know people who have palms have third-party apps for them, and in many ways I think its something that kept the Palm ecosystem going. Palm knew its income came from selling hardware, rather than licenses. If you look at the success of the Newton, it was largely that you *could* write apps for it. Phone companies have the opposite motive, where they may lose money the hardware, but make it back by charging for everything else.

      It seems that Apple is set to make their money selling hardware, so if anything, they should encourage third-party apps. Perhaps AT&T is planning on selling software/services for the IPhone, but somehow that seems unlikely for me.

      Which leads me to several different conclusions: (1) either Apple really
  • I wouldn't go so far as to say there will be no killer app, since the killer app could be bundled with the phone. But Apple is adding to the risk that there will never be a killer app simply by virtue of the fact that they are creating an artificial barrier to development.

    Is the barrier to development infinitely high? That remains, too, to be seen. Look how quickly people cracked open the AppleTV and made it into a general purpose computer. But as a potential buyer, I have to add uncertainty to the cost of
  • by aldheorte (162967) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:08PM (#19481957)
    This is true and symptomatic of the whole mobile space. If you have experience in the mobile space, this will come as little surprise to you. All the carriers want to lock down and control every bit that flows on their networks so they can extract all the profit out of every bit. It's amazing that Apple has got as much enabled on the phone as it has.

    This sort of thing is why mobile networking in the U.S. and many other countries is a total and unmitigated disaster. All of the networks have tried so hard to make sure they get all the profit potential out of the networks they have made it very unattractive for third party developers. As a result, the mobile networking space just rots waiting for a competitor or new form of getting data to mobile points that make the existing mobile networks obsolete (this is hard because of governmental regulation and selling of exclusive rights to frequency bands, so it is also a regulatory disaster). This is why all the services you hear prognosticators in Wired and other magazines rhapsodize about never materialize. It's also ironic in that the carriers would be making more money if they had opened up to the killer apps and therefore increased the overall demand for networking.

    In short, through the regulatory processes and lack of fair trade enforcement, the U.S. has sold its mobile networking potential and commons into the hands of thieves, whose greed and hubris have essentially delayed progress in mobile networking for at least a decade. If I could make that statement in stronger terms, I would. The mobile space is essentially what happens when you have the complete antithesis of 'network neutrality' and, though network neutrality might not be a great regulatory strategy in the fixed-network space, the complete opposite of it is surely well-nigh catastrophic as can be seen from the mobile space.
    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:44PM (#19482503) Journal
      I hate to make the same comment more than once in the same day, but this is why the infrastructure needs to be separated from the service. If everybody pays the same access fee for the basic infrastructure (everybody meaning either the end user, or the service provider on a per-user basis), then there can be more providers and more competition. Long distance phone service, by a series of odd fates, has essentially this arrangement, and there are quite a number of competing (and competitive) plans and providers out there.

      Providers have to create or cross license their infrastructure, and that is massivly expensive. The only reason that there is lock in to undesirable providers is that they have premium or exclusive coverage areas. This is especially true in non-dense populations. Verizon sucks donkey balls when it comes to getting anything without an added fee, but they have good coverage where other providers (like at&t which, while also evil, at least offers gsm/3g) have little or none.

      Take all those towers, switch them to gsm, consolidate the bands, put the infrastructure under better, tigher regulation owned by a (network of) (possibly gov't overseen) corps. Forbid those corps from selling any direct services except the infrastrucutre access, then provide standard per user/per packet rates to all providers. It won't happen, but it sure would help if it did.
  • by maynard (3337) <j.maynard.gelinasNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:10PM (#19481973) Journal
    The device looks very cool. It has all sorts of cool features for storing and listening to music, taking and showing photos, organizing a schedule, etc. Unfortunately, this is a 'convergence' product almost a decade late. Furthermore, it doesn't do the ONE thing I want and need: allow me to take eink notes or annotate over pdfs. Apple really missed the boat here. And I think here we see Jobs' bias against pen input really damaging the potential of this product. I don't need yet another calendar. I need a tool to manipulate divergent notes from a variety of projects. And being able to snap photos of text in a book or original source materials for batch OCR would be nice too.

    Jobs made a very nice toy. Unfortunately, I need a tool - and the iPhone ain't it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by porcupine8 (816071)
      I'm confused as to which of those functions you list belongs on a telephone. A tablet computer, sure. A PDA, sure. This isn't being marketed as either of those, it's being marketed as a fancy cel phone with features similar to other fancy cel phones. It might pave the way to Apple making a product that is marketed as one of those other items, but right now it's not, and I don't see why it should have all the features of a product that it's not. Apple is not one to try and make a product that is all things t
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by blackmonday (607916)
      In Cupertino, Steve Jobs pulled the plug on the iPhone product merely weeks before launch. Slahdot user Maynard needed to annotate PDFs, and the iPhone did not meet his exacting standards. PDF annotation immediately became the number one priority of Nokia, Motorola and Microsoft, as the billions to be reaped with this killer app would surely fill the bottom line with boulders of gold.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:11PM (#19481991) Homepage Journal
    While some people on here despise flash, it could possibly take advantage of the multi-touch interface on the iPhone without leaving the Safari sandbox. Not to mention a lot of popular sites such as homestarrunner.com use it. $500 for a revolutionary smart phone whose browser isn't as good as the psps? No thanks.
  • Please, please (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Swift2001 (874553) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:14PM (#19482031)
    My ears are bleeding. If you say, "but the ads look great," you're a fanboy. If you call a product that hasn't shipped yet an utter failure, that's sobriety? No it's not. Can't anybody wait to see what we're talking about here? Just why is it that a great phone experience requires third-party developers. Is a phone REALLY a computer? Can you make apps crash on it?
  • by amper (33785) * on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:15PM (#19482045) Journal
    Nothing, I repeat, *nothing* that Apple has released up to this point has indicated that "Web 2.0" apps will be the only type of apps available to the iPhone. Get a clue already. How many clues does Apple have to give you before you see the trail of breadcrumbs?

    First of all, go refer to the D5 discussion with SJ and BG. Pay special attention to the part where Steve talks about iPhone apps, particularly why it was felt that a native Google Maps app was more appropriate than a web app.

    Second of all, "No SDK required" != "No SDK available". The SDK already exists, but is not required to develop apps targeted to the iPhone. It's called Mac OS X+XCode+Dashcode. Curious that the "Webclip" feature coming in Leopard was conspicously demo'd by Steve, and yet is missing from both versions of the Safari 3 Public Beta...hmm? Safari for Windows exists because of the iPhone, plain and simple.

    The "Mystery 12th App"? Obviously the "Movies" widget that Steve demo'd. Just as that came on, I realized one of the most commonly accessed apps on my Palm phone, my Nokia 770, and my other cell phone (Samsung SPH-m610), is movie listings. Of course Apple, with the largest movie preview site on the Internet, would provide such a feature for the iPhone.

    It's been obvious since the first intro of the iPhone to anyone with a modicum of intelligence that all the apps on the iPhone are the exact same things that run under Dashboard on Mac OS X. Why would anyone think that Apple would reimplement already existing code when they've already shown that the iPhone and AppleTV both run Mac OS X, especially given the extreme emphasis put on the fact that the iPhone runs the same WebKit engine as the regular desktop OS?

    I going to laugh to see all the naysayers tripping over themselves to get ahold of an iPhone and a Mac in a few months once they realize they've missed the boat
  • by ErikTheRed (162431) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:21PM (#19482141) Homepage
    There's a reasonably good reason, and don't hold your breath waiting for the answer to change.

    Whether or not the phone is "really" running OSX is debatable, but keep in mind that many of the CPUs used in embedded devices like phones don't have nearly (or sometimes any of) the memory protection offered on a desktop or laptop CPU. You're also dealing with a much lower-MHz device (for battery consumption reasons) and chances are 100% of the code on the phone runs in Ring 0 (assuming other rings exist) for performance reasons.

    So for them to allow third parties to run binary apps would pretty much allow unlimited circumvention of their DRM for the iPod portions (which would violate their agreements with record and movie companies), and as Jobs mentioned publicly would allow any poorly-written or malicious application to completely destabilize the phone or potentially interact with the cellular network in some disruptive or destructive manner (probably violating their agreement with AT&T). I have a Treo with PalmOS on it, and I can attest to the validity of at least the phone stability concern.

    So there are a few very legitimate reasons to sandbox third-party code. That being said, there are features sorely lacking on the phone that won't fit in a sandbox - the first of which (for me and my customers) is a VPN client. The last thing I want is a phone running POP3 or IMAP "transparently" connecting over insecure WiFi infrastructure. I'd also like an SSH client, a Terminal Services client, an X Client, and a unicorn - so the iPhone probably won't be for me (dammit).

    I would imagine that down the road they will find a better way to provide said sandbox (maybe a Java or Ruby or Python runtime environment?) but in the mean time I respect their desire to provide a phone that emphasizes reliability, even if it means it won't work for me (at least in the first iteration). The wife will probably get one, though.
  • X-Code!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Goth Biker Babe (311502) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @03:44PM (#19482499) Homepage Journal
    Don't be surprised if the next major revision of X-Code supports iPhone development.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @05:09PM (#19483607)
    WinCE (Sorry, Windows Mobile). Treao. Blackberry.

    These devices all allow custom programming. They have been out for some time. So then, what is the "Kller App" for those devices that has come from third parties?

    When I owned a Palm, I did buy a few applications, but they were just nice utilities, never apps I could not live without (evidenced by my not owning a Palm anymore once it died). Even today I don't see what is so compelling about the third party market that I must have on my phone that could not also be served by a well-written web application.

    The Palm itself was a killer app when it came along, because of the totality of the device. The same COULD be true of the iPhone, we don't know yet - but it would not be a third party application that would cause it to rise or fall, even if it would allow lower level development. With consumer devices its the package as a whole that makes or breaks it.

    Heck even game consoles today rest firmly on a foundation of first party titles to help buoy them up. Why should a phone be any different? Remember it's not that NO developers will get lower level access, Apple had already talked about things like the games the iPod offers today. It's only the wider market that has to use AJAX for application development on the iPhone, a tired development model that still allows for truly custom iPhone applications - and thus the potential of the mythical "Killer App".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thumper_SVX (239525)
      Depends on your requirements, really.

      I have a PocketPC phone; an HTC TyTN. I love the fact that I can install... let me see here...

      OK... I have a third party set of networking tools... namely WiFiFoFum (wireless scanner) and VXUtil (includes stuff like IP subnet calculator and so on). Oh, and not to mention a copy of Putty when I need to SSH to a box. Damn that keyboard is nice when I have an urgent need for SSH. Finally, I have a Remote Desktop Client and VNC installed so I can remote control just about an
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Password manager.

      I'm sure others will have different killer apps, and that's part of the point here.
  • Whatever (Score:4, Interesting)

    by retro128 (318602) on Tuesday June 12, 2007 @05:36PM (#19483867)
    Come on - It's an Apple product. That means looks over function. It means proprietary city. Is anyone really that surprised?

    The bottom line cell phones are just expensive paperweights you can make phone calls on without an open platform (or at the very least, a common platform) to run software on. What is the point of spending money on games/apps for your phone with the next one you get probably won't be able to run them?

    That is why I am anxiously waiting for the Neo1973 [openmoko.org] running OpenMoko [openmoko.org]. The OS runs on a Linux kernel with telephony services running on top of it. Apps run on GTK and so you can run and develop apps natively in your X11 session. The hardware itself works with GSM networks (quad band), and has integrated bluetooth, GPS, Wifi, and a 2.8" touchscreen. Since everything is open source on it, if it doesn't have all the software capabilities the iPhone does, it can be made to have them. And at half the cost. Not to mention it's not married to any cell network, unlike the iPhone.

    If the Neo1973 is as awesome in the flesh as it looks on paper, it will revolutionize the cell phone industry.

  • by gig (78408) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @04:35AM (#19488361)
    Bullshit for so many reasons.

    First, iPhone comes with four killer apps built-in. All a device needs is one. The iPod is a sensation and it has one killer app: seamless integration with your iTunes audio video collection which enables on-the-go playback of same anywhere, anytime.

    The iPhone has:

    1) Calls - the killer app from phones
    2) iPod - the killer app from iPods
    3) Web (Web 2.0 even) - the real full-featured Web, the killer app from the last decade of mainstream computing
    4) Email - the killer app of the Internet some say

    Notice that Apple put these four along the bottom of the iPhone's display. The other 11 apps are chachkis. You can do Google Maps or calendaring online.

    Some have called the iPhone's UI a killer app. If you have been frustrated by a phone UI before you may agree.

    OK, but what if that isn't enough for you? What if you are considering an iPhone but you really don't need it for the phone, iPod, Web, or email features? (Please read the previous sentence again while considering the absurdity of it.)

    Then for you, the iPhone has many avenues for third-party accessories:

    1) Ajax applications
    2) iPod dock connector applications
    3) Bluetooth applications
    4) Wi-Fi-n applications
    5) custom hardware modifications (this is huge in phones already)
    6) iPhone-related Mac/PC apps
    7) cases, holders, mounts, etc.

    The funny thing is, with the original Mac you could install software on it, and developers complained about not having any accessory slots to put hardware. Now iPhone has a slot that is being ignored and everybody wants to install software on it.

    The consumer market is all about zero configuration. Installing and updating software is configuration. Nine out of ten people fucking hate it. It's why most people still do not have PC's. People will make outrageous sacrifices to avoid having to configure something. They'll use lab computers at school, surf the Web only at work, or use online productivity apps that suck, just to avoid owning their own computer or installing software on it. Among Mac users, the majority do not install software, and it has been reduced to dragging and dropping one icon from some other storage to your hard disk ... still people hate it.

    Everybody wants to know, what is Apple's secret? What makes their stuff so easy to use, what makes people like it so much? It is zero configuration. When Apple did Mac networking in the 1980's the Macs networked themselves, you just had to physically connect them. When they rebuilt their OS for the 21st century they re-built the zero configuration networking as well, this time around TCP/IP. There were 20 years of "configuration TCP/IP" before Apple switched from AppleTalk to TCP/IP and created zero configuration TCP/IP. Why didn't somebody other than Apple build zero conf networking first? Apple is the only computer company in the consumer market. All others are in the mainframe replacement business. So it is no wonder that non-technical people like Apple's zero configuration products, because non-technical people fucking hate configuring things.

    Oh, they hate it. They hate it worse than taking an exam, they hate it worse than going to the doctor. If your business plan involves consumers configuring things, then get out of the consumer industry now.

    It is amazing to me in 2007 that the PC industry a) still exists, b) hasn't gotten a clue yet. ZERO, I mean ZERO configuration. You turn it on, it works (built-in apps). You plug it on, it works (dock connector). You click it, it works (Web/Ajax).

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