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iPhone SDK Rules Block Skype, Firefox, Java ... 800

An anonymous reader writes "Apple's iPhone software development kit is already drawing complaints due to the strict terms of service. Voice over IP apps like Skype that attempt to use the cellular data connection will be blocked. Competing web browsers Firefox and Opera are forbidden. Even Sun is now backpedaling on its recent announcement of a java port, noting that there are some legal issues. Critics are already comparing Apple's methods to Comcast's anti-net neutrality filtering, and Microsoft's Netscape-killing antitrust tactics. Could Apple face government regulators?"
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iPhone SDK Rules Block Skype, Firefox, Java ...

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  • by Kagato ( 116051 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:32AM (#22715940)
    Most cell phone applications are written in J2ME. The lack of J2ME support means existing applications already on AT&T's approved app deck would need extensive porting. The only exception is Verizon which has their own language (called BREW), which has less apps than most other companies because of it. Even the Black Berry supports J2ME.
  • by mzs ( 595629 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:36AM (#22716014)
    borne shell, etc:

    "no interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple's Published APIs and built-in interpreter(s)."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:40AM (#22716092)
    Apple owns the device? Last I checked I owned my iPod Touch. How dare Apple tell [i]me[/i] what I can't run on my device.
  • by hypergreatthing ( 254983 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:45AM (#22716194)
    Almost all phones have a web browser, all the new cell phones can play mp3s. There are phones made to encorporate music as their main focus.

    What? You actually buy music off itunes? I'd rather buy music from amazon's drm free site. Stupid icrap users get what stupid icrap users deserve.
  • Re:It is their phone (Score:3, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <> on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:48AM (#22716268) Homepage Journal

    Apple is only exerting control over their store. You can use the SDK to install non-approved apps to your iPhone.

    Not according to TFA:

    The key section of the SDK says that "no interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple's Published APIs and built-in interpreter(s)." Even worse is the section just after that which specifically says no to plugin architectures: "An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plugin architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise."

    (Emphasis mine)
  • Re:It is their phone (Score:2, Informative)

    by abaddononion ( 1004472 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:56AM (#22716408)
    This is not true at *all*, and is a downright falsism and an incredibly weak defense. Anti-competitive activity is classified as "banning abusive behaviour by a firm dominating a market, or anti-competitive practices that tend to lead to such a dominant position."

    Notice the keyword there. Whether or not you already have a monopoly is NOT relevant. Only if you're doing actions that could eventually help to create one.
  • No FTC (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ungulate ( 146381 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:58AM (#22716466)
    Microsoft got in trouble for leveraging their OS monopoly to squash Netscape, and Apple has no such monopoly to leverage. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with limiting what applications can run on your device, nor is there anything wrong with integrating a browser, but there are some behaviors that monopolies cannot engage in that a smaller company can.

    You bought an Apple device, you couldn't have been expecting open-ness.
  • by sitkill ( 893183 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:08AM (#22716642)
    This slashdot post is entirely sensationalism at its worse. If anyone had read the articles attached: Skype banned: "Apple To Allow VoIP on iPhone But...", it doesn't talk about Skype being banned, but being restricted. The firefox issue seems to be dealing with the fact that no interpreted languages are accepted (javascript I assume), and no plugin arch. are allowed. Actually, I'd gladly accept a no-plugin firefox. No more bloated firefox. And really, how many other mobile browsers allow plugins? (I'm honestly asking...). For sun, it's some legal issues that have come up. They haven't BLOCKED anything. To go from the article (which is entirely positive on Apple), and turn it around to be negative is doing a disservice to the original author. Saying that everything is being blocked is silly. If you want to play in the game, you gotta follow the rules. If you don't, well, there's always hockey.
  • by recoiledsnake ( 879048 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:12AM (#22716728)

    It could be like all other cell phones and not allow you to put anything on it.
    Drinking koolaid much? A wide array of phones, including Windows Mobile phones allow you put everything on them. Windows Mobile itself has more than 5000 software titles available for it with none of the BS restrictions or 30% revenue 'sharing'.
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:19AM (#22716880)
    My wife's Palm plays MP3 and Video, has built-in Wifi and bluetooth, and has (gasp!) a removable memory card currently populated with a $40 4GB card. It's not as slick or fun as an iPod, but it does everything that the iPod touch does, and the inverse is not true.
  • by cromar ( 1103585 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:30AM (#22717124)
    Objective C is a cool language, and is super easy to pick up if you know C++ or Java.
  • by KlomDark ( 6370 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:45AM (#22717438) Homepage Journal
    Don't forget C#, which also returns "> 5000" hits. If we could get a real number on that, I'd bet C# has more than Java.
  • Re:It is their phone (Score:5, Informative)

    by samkass ( 174571 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:51AM (#22717524) Homepage Journal
    I have never seen an SDK that so blatantly locks users out of common usage like this, have you? Maybe I've managed a decade and a half in this industry without noticing that it's normal practice to use legal force to ensure that an SDK is only used a particular way?

    Which industry? This isn't atypical in the embedded industry at all. It is very unusual in the general computing industry. I think the issue here is that the iPhone and iTouch span that divide moreso than any device that came before it.

    If you wanted to develop for the PlayStation, for instance, you had to sign all kinds of agreements. And they were relatively open compared to some embedded device makers.
  • by dloose ( 900754 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:02PM (#22717754)

    If Apple really wanted to open their platform up to innovation, they'd open it up to Java.
    I'm a full-time Java developer and I find this statement to be absolutely ridiculous. First of all, Apple released a Java-Cocoa bridge with a very early release of OS X (not gonna go out on a limb here -- it was there in 10.2 when I started using Macs). It made Java applications look and feel almost exactly like native Obj-C apps and it was widely shunned by the developer community. It has since been deprecated for exactly that reason. The developers did not want it; they learned Obj-C instead. Does that mean that developers won't want Java on the iPhone as well? Maybe not, but I'm willing to be that most iPhone developers will also be Mac developers (i.e., people that previously shunned Java). Actually, they'll have to be since you need a Mac to develop for the iPhone.

    You seem to portray learning Obj-C as some huge undertaking. If you come from a Java background, learning Obj-C is like learning to play stud poker when you've only played draw poker before. Some of the mechanics are different, but there's a lot of overlap. Anyway, how is Java more conducive to innovation than Obj-C? Because it has better IDEs (which is probably debatable, but I'll cede the point anyway)? What can you do in Java than you can't do in Obj-C? Sure, Java has more frameworks built around it (and frameworks built around those frameworks, with more frameworks layered over them, and frameworks built on top of those, etc.), but Apple has some pretty decent libraries too. I've only dabbled in Cocoa programming, but I find the syntax of Obj-C to be rather nice. I like that there's at least some way to implement delegation. It may be a bit sketchy, but it's better than Java's system, which amounts to "Ahh, fuck it. Let the IDE generate some code. That's good enough."

    You have one thing right: Objective-C will probably never be nearly as popular as Java. Ok, two things: Too much java makes me have to poo-poo. I don't see why that means Apple must support Java on the iPhone though. I'm sure the platform will do just fine without it.

  • by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:05PM (#22717804) Journal

    Has anybody, anywhere EVER had a positive user experience with a Java app?
    Yeah actually - Opera Mini [] is superb.
  • by kidgenius ( 704962 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:12PM (#22717914)
    If Microsoft wanted to charge you $100 to run Firefox on Windows, you would burn them at the stake. The only thing that makes Apple different is that they aren't a monopoly... yet. Sorry, but this is different. See, Apple has never said you cannot run Firefox on their device. You are free to write it and make it work. You figure out a way to do that, congratulations. You can do whatever the hell you want with the iPhone. But how are you going to get this app on the iPhone? It's up to you to figure that part out, and if you brick your iPhone, that's your problem. All they are saying is that you cannot use their SDK to develop these apps. That's part of their licensing agreement. Don't agree? Don't use their SDK and go it on your own, you have that right after all.
  • by brainnolo ( 688900 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:13PM (#22717924) Homepage

    ...I have to say that not only is Java significantly nicer, but the IDE's are dramatically better than XCode...

    I wonder if you actually did both platforms seriously. I work with both on daily basis from some years, yet I find myself cursing every second I spend doing Java (in either NetBeans or Eclipse, I use Eclipse only for the nice j2mepolish integration).

    Java syntax is extremely verbose, and the language is really not as objected oriented as they sell it. Also doing a GUI application makes me often think the advantages of being kicked in the balls instead.

    In Objective-C I usually find myself writing much less code and have great productivity, XCode never gets in my way and Cocoa/Foundation frameworks usually have a much cleaner API (just take a look at collections, in Java you have to pick between different implementations of the same functionalities)

  • Re:It is their phone (Score:2, Informative)

    by mweather ( 1089505 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:13PM (#22717936)
    "I have never seen an SDK that so blatantly locks users out of common usage like this, have you?" Sure I have: Microsoft XNA.
  • by fanningj ( 942469 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:22PM (#22718056)

    They have a 6.5% share of the worldwide market after one full year.... they maybe are not in the lead but they are doing good enough to bumb Motorola's smartphone sales to 4th.
    No they haven't, there was over one billion phones sold last year, they haven't sold over 65 million phones. Unless you are talking about Smartphones, then you are wrong again. There were 77.3 million Symbian based phones sold last year, without allowing for all the other manufacturers they haven't done 6.5%
  • by e4g4 ( 533831 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:31PM (#22718196)

    They legally have. I can not ... use skype with edge.
    Just to make sure you know this - you cannot legally use Skype (or any VoIP service) with Edge on *any* AT&T phone. It is explicitly forbidden in the terms of use.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:45PM (#22718418) Journal
    My 3-year-old phone has a web browser (Opera) which works very nicely considering the tiny screen and it includes a music player that plays MP3 and AAC files (and, I think, a few other formats). I put a 1GB flash card in it stores a couple of albums, in AAC format, purchased from the iTunes store. It's not as capable as the iPhone, but if you bought one now it would cost 5-10% of the cost of an iPhone.
  • by wampus ( 1932 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:50PM (#22718502)
    T-Mobile's firmware on Nokia S40 phones, at least, disables internet access for 3rd party apps.
  • A 6.5% share of what? The cellphone market? In the world? In North America? Bullshit.

    Smartphone market? I still find that hard to believe - there are several countries where Blackberry is, but iPhone is not.

    Here's a big hint. Sales does not equate to "size of market". If in the final quarter of 2007, the iPhone sold 27% of the smartphones sold, that does not mean every one in four smartphones is an iPhone (I'm also looking at you for a basic misunderstanding of this, Mr Roughly Drafted []). As the Wikipedians would say, "[citation needed]".

  • Re:troll bait (Score:3, Informative)

    by Eunuchswear ( 210685 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @01:11PM (#22718820) Journal

    but how many of your "phones designed by checklist" have a 320x480 screen
    Mine has 800x352. Does that count?
  • by hax0r_this ( 1073148 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @01:21PM (#22718992)
    Maybe you missed the part where nearly every iPhone update has tried to block the jailbreak?

    I was literally days away from buying an iPhone before the SDK release, was just waiting to make sure it would make the phone worth it (honestly, without 3rd party applications the iPhone is worth about 1/5 of what it costs). But now I'm not so sure that I'll be getting one at all.
  • Gawd, nobody wants frigging Java anywhere near anything they have to actually use, much less *pay* to use. Has anybody, anywhere EVER had a positive user experience with a Java app?

    hate to break this to you, but much of the software you run on your typical cellphone is written in Java. I have quite a few positive java apps on my blackberry

    not to mention, if you use ebay, you're using a Java-based web app. I hear it's a pretty decent piece of software.

    oh, and I have a daily (mostly) positive experience with Eclipse [].

    The idea that "java apps are obvious due to their slowness and crappiness" is an old, tired adage. It's just false. You might as well say, "C++ apps are obvious due to their memory leaks". Just because you've run some crappy Java code doesn't mean the language itself and all code written in it is crap. It brings you more benefits than you know.

    Disclaimer: I do a lot of J2EE coding. I also hate Java, but for more technical reasons. ;-)

  • by norkakn ( 102380 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:42PM (#22720326)
    Apple's documentation is wonderful..... if you already know Objective-C. It is pretty bad otherwise. Okay, It's really horrible otherwise, and not that great if you do.

    I tend to use [] more than anything else. You really should do the basic Apple Currency Converter tutorial first though, as it walks you through the interface. In general, trust the C that you know, but throw out the C++. Things tend to be done with a different approach, so if you can find other code that does a similar thing, the C part of your brain will understand it, but the C++ part will get angry. Eventually, I realized that the C++ part of my brain was also extremely masochistic, so it became easier to ignore it.

    Did that help at all? More than anything else, just jump right in. Build and test often, and have fun with it.
  • Re:It's funny... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Spy Hunter ( 317220 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:57PM (#22724692) Journal
    How did your comment get modded up to +5 when it is so obviously wrong? Microsoft's XNA SDK for XBox 360 is *just* as restrictive as the iPhone SDK, if not more so. Perhaps you are confused because XNA can be used for unrestricted development of Windows games. Well, Apple allows unrestricted development of Mac games too; the iPhone SDK has nothing to do with that. The only valid comparison is between XNA's XBox 360 development capability vs. the iPhone SDK.
    • iPhone: You can run native code. XBox: no native code; all code runs in the .NET Framework VM sandbox.
    • iPhone: $99 one-time fee. XBox: $99 yearly subscription + $50 yearly subscription for XBox Live Gold
    • iPhone: free version with emulator for testing. XBox: free version but no way to test for XBox compatibility.
    • iPhone: iTunes is the exclusive distribution channel for iPhone programs. XBox: XBox Live the is exclusive distribution channel for XBox games.
    Since neither Apple or Microsoft can control what you do with the SDK on your own hardware, the following restrictions only apply to applications distributed through iTunes or XBox Live.
    • iPhone: programs of any type will be distributed. XBox: programs must be games for distribution on Live.
    • iPhone: distribution on iTunes store will be available to any developer. XBox: distribution on XBox Live restricted to a select few who win periodic voting contests.
    • iPhone: programs can use WiFi for any purpose; cellular network with restrictions. XBox: Network access only for XBox Live and local LAN multiplayer. Non-LAN play must enforce requirement of XBox Live Gold subscription.
    • iPhone: programs distributed through iTunes may not execute downloaded code or plugins. XBox: Microsoft would never approve a game for distribution on Live that executed downloaded code or could download plugins.
    • iPhone: Free programs distributed for free. XNA: not announced. Likely to limit or prohibit free games.
    • iPhone: Commercial distribution is 30% of gross revenue, no other fees. XNA: not announced. Likely to be higher than 30% based on rumors of XBLA royalty rates.
    As you can see, XBox development is *just* as restricted as iPhone development; more so, in fact.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.