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Media (Apple) Media Cellphones Programming The Internet IT Technology

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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  • What did you expect? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bit trollent ( 824666 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:27AM (#22715830) Homepage
    This is Apple we're dealing with here. They won't even let you build your own computer even though OS X runs on x86.

    For all the crap Microsoft gets for its tactics, it should be clear from actions like this that Apple is the real villain.
  • by Parker Lewis ( 999165 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:28AM (#22715848)
    I think Apple is turning blind with your own success. All the marketing people loves Apple products, but in fact, technical people have a lot of non good points about the same products.
  • by Oxy the moron ( 770724 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:29AM (#22715852)

    Look, I know the iPhone is all "snazzy" and "cool" and "trendy," but I think it's been known for a while that Apple would do this, yes?

    If you're looking for a platform with more open SDK access, just don't write for the iPhone. Go for a mobile device with a Linux-based OS, or even Windows Mobile. That gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of writing your own software (I write C# on a Moto Q, myself) and you usually end up paying less, too.

    Apple has a choice as to whether or not they open up their hardware just as you had the choice of buying the phone in the first place.

  • by armada ( 553343 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:31AM (#22715920)
    I agree. I am a fan of most of the industrial design and ui design that comes out of Apple but if they lock this up I will be buying an Android or an Openmoko instead (i've been wating for a 3g Iphone and the release of the SDK). However, unless the government forces us all to buy iphones or all the other manufacturers go out of business because of it's leet crunchy goodness, I dont see how this could warrant antitrust sanctions and government involvement. If you don't like it. Buy ze other one.
  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oxy the moron ( 770724 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:35AM (#22716010)

    I was thinking this exact same thing. The Motorola Q has some really great features, and it turns out a lot of them are masked or outright disabled (Java support) if you use Verizon as your carrier versus a different carrier. If anything, Apple is being more generous than the likes of some cell phone companies.

  • by slaingod ( 1076625 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:42AM (#22716140) Homepage
    that SDK says your app can't run in the background. I would imagine (not being an iPhone owner but having some common sense) that the iPhone will continue to play music if you are using say the Calendar functionality. If I am not able to create a media player that allows me to provide that same level of functionality, whether it is for some unsupported format not found in iTunes, or if I want to use another media player on my iPhone to download songs from Napster, then I think Apple will be opening itself up to a world of trouble, monopoly-wise. That is exactly how M$ got in trouble, was leveraging their OS to keep out competition. You can't have it both ways... you either allow 3rd party apps or you don't. If a particular carrier wants to prevent some type of network usage/traffic, I can see the carrier doing that, just like you ISP doesn't have to provide you with Newsgroups...but your OS had damn well better not try and block Newsgroups just because it has some forum software it wants to push.
  • Re:It is their phone (Score:4, Interesting)

    by abaddononion ( 1004472 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:50AM (#22716304)
    You realize, of course, that this very post is a RESOUNDING defense of Microsoft and all of their business practices, right?

    This sword cuts both ways. What's wrong (or right, in your case) for one is wrong or right for the other. And according to reason litigation against M$, it would seem that those practices arent "fine and dandy" at all, and they ARE being forced to support competitor software. The same rules could apply down to Apple here.
  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:53AM (#22716370) Homepage Journal

    Could Apple face government regulators?
    Could Apple face customer blacklash?
  • I got modded all to hell for saying this in the last article, but whatever: Apple's decision regarding the SDK and iTunes distribution model have assured that I will not be buying an iPhone. I was holding out, waiting to see what the SDK had to offer, and I've come to the conclusion that it's better to wait for Android than to lock myself into Steve's phone. The Mac is probably the best development platform I've ever used, but the iPhone is useless to me. It flies in the face of the hacker/tinkerer ethic.
  • by revscat ( 35618 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:01AM (#22716516) Journal
    1) Number of apps so far released and distributed via app store: 0
    2) Number of apps so far forbidden from being released: 0
    3) Number of articles proclaiming the upcoming horror of what Evil Apple could do: an even quintbillion.

    No one knows what Apple is going to do. No one. They could open it up to basically all-comers, or they could limit it so that only Tetris is available.

    Why do so many people assume that Apple is Microsoft or Sony? I've never gotten that impression. They are by and large very open.

  • Re:It is their phone (Score:3, Interesting)

    by abaddononion ( 1004472 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:06AM (#22716606)
    The issue here is about Apple using their strength in one arena to push their mechanisms in others. It's the EXACT same thing Sony did with the Playstation 3. They used their console success to try to push Blu-Ray out to everyone. People complained that it was "wrong". It's the same as when Windows uses the fact that they push an OS out to try to push a browser out with it as well. It applies to Apple just as much here. They are trying to use their phone to push out ObjC over Java.

    Im willing to bet you're one of the same people who cries out how wrong it is when Sony or Microsoft does it. Why isnt it wrong when Apple does it? Is this because, yet again, it's Apple?
  • by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:14AM (#22716764) Journal
    You're getting a skewed picture here on slashdot of course: most people have given up trying to overcome the special pleading and double standards on most internet fora that apply to Apple. What's left is more or less an echo chamber.

    Anyway, I look forward to competition in platform openness, and it's definitely forthcoming. Apple can keep its touch screens. Tell the truth, I mostly just want a phone that has the battery life that my 8-year-old nokia had.
  • Re:Complicated Issue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:15AM (#22716790) Homepage
    The iphone in providing an sdk is considerably more open than it's competition.

      The symbian SDK is free. You can get a developer certificate for free (Apple charges $100/year), you can distribute in any manner you choose (Apple insist on using itunes), you can use background apps, you can do VOIP over 3G/Edge....

    So in what way is the iphone 'considerably more open'.
  • by FyRE666 ( 263011 ) * on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:18AM (#22716856) Homepage
    The funny thing is, Apple have always had far more overt anti-competitive practices than MS. It's a blessing that MS actually managed to prevent Apple from owning the desktop OS market, as the tie-in with hardware too would make the IT world a much less innovative, and much more expensive place to be.

    Many people could have guessed Apple would pull this stunt too - remember, the ONLY reason this SDK exists at all is due to the existing cracked iphone/itouch development movement. Apple want to cash in, but on their terms of course. Hopefully developers will simply continue using the unofficial methods to develop software.

    I'm sure the usual "Apple shiny!!!" fanboys will continue to defend this, but most free-thinking people can see the way Apple operate. For the record, I also own an itouch, imac and mini - I just don't drink the koolaid...
  • Re:It is their phone (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:20AM (#22716886)

    It's not their phone. It's MY phone, bought and paid for.
    Right. And you made an informed decision, knowing the features and limitations of the phone you bought and paid for. Being the most open phone to install third party software was never one of the features of the iPhone. So far, there was not even an SDK. If you like what they offer buy it, if you don't, look somewhere else. There are plenty of phones out there.

    And yes, I think it is a disadvantage that Apple keeps a tight control on what gets installed on the phones they sell.
  • Re:troll bait (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bnenning ( 58349 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:21AM (#22716910)
    Why is it that 99% of the developer reaction I've seen has been enthusiastically positive, and yet the spin here is so negative?

    For established Mac developers it's a great deal. Apple handles the distribution and payment processing, and they don't have to worry about competing with open source weenies. But hobbyists get shut out (apparently even if you try to pay Apple for a certificate, there's no guarantee they'll give you one), and end users get nickeled and dimed for apps that would have free equivalents in a competitive market.

    When the competitive landscape in the cellphone world changes and the carriers just become dumb pipes, Apple will be the first to drop stupid restrictions

    That would be nice, although I'm skeptical since lots of other AT&T phones don't have these kinds of restrictions.
  • by celtic_hackr ( 579828 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:27AM (#22717026) Journal
    restricted people's ability to build clone machines back in the day.

    The same Apple that restricted what software could run on their machines.
    The same Apple that restricted ...

    Nothing new here, this is Apple's secret formula to ensure they never have more than 3-5% market share of anything they do in the long term. I remember a time when Apple was very popular, but due to their complete lack of business acumen doomed their ability to take over the hardware and software markets. They could of taken the computer world by storm and buried IBM and Microsoft, but they have no clue how to market long term. Short term marketing and hype they've got down, but I didn't buy an iPhone, because, I know the end result, which we are now starting to see more clearly. Some people might say I was psychic, o which I would say know your history and you won't be doomed to repeat it.

    Same ol' Apple. It's comforting to know I can rely on them to be consistent. Isn't Steve Jobs at the helm again?
  • Re:It is their phone (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wildclaw ( 15718 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:27AM (#22717042)
    They can, but if they do I'll just categorize them as the bullshitting coorporate profit whores that they are.

    Same as I do with any coorporation that sell products with artifical limitations. Actually, as I don't really keep a black & white world view, I do have a sliding scale for it, but Apple is definitly not on the right side on that scale.

  • by Glock27 ( 446276 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:28AM (#22717052)
    Yes everyone learns it, but aside from a few web apps no one uses it.

    Says falcon5768, who's an authority because of...?

    As opposed to monster.com, where "Java developer" returns "> 5000" hits, "C++ developer returns 2457 hits, "Perl developer" which returns 1134 hits, or "Python developer" which returns 300?

    Java is undoubtedly the most widely used language for current development. So much for "no one".

    It's really not too bad, just not ideal for the highest performance and real time niches. Even so, gcj (for instance) comes close.

  • by e4g4 ( 533831 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:29AM (#22717092)
    Bah, you're so far off it's not even funny. I'm running a native terminal on my iPhone. It's got Ruby, Python, and (horrors) Java running on it - each with Objective C bridges (except Ruby). I have root on my phone, for the first time ever. So, yeah - the iPhone does not officially support the hacker/tinkerer ethic - so fucking what? Unofficially supporting it is good enough for me - it is by far the best *nix based phone on the market (oh wait, it's the *only* *nix based phone on the market - that actually works).

    The 2.0 software may break the current jailbreak methods, but again, so what, I've already got 3rd party apps on my phone.
  • by norkakn ( 102380 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:33AM (#22717168)
    While the intel iMac part is regrettable, I don't think that there would be enough demand for other platforms to warrant a port. While it is a stripped down version of OS X, it is still OS X and having a cross development toolchain would greatly complicate things. I get the feeling that the SDK is 90% internal tools.

    Objective C is pretty easy to pick up. It really is the language that you want to use for OS X development. Everything fits together rather well, and it is designed to make the developer's life easier. If you know another C like language, you can pick up the basics of ObjC in a weekend. It is also a superset of C, so you can program straight C if you prefer.

    You can also use the unofficial SDK. One of the big advantages of the official one is being able to distribute through Apple.

    It's certainly not perfect, but it is better than what a lot of people are saying.
  • by Sparks23 ( 412116 ) * on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:37AM (#22717270)
    While being able to build a custom OSX86 box would be nice, I actually can understand part of why Apple does this.

    Mac OS X has a very, very small number of drivers. Arguably, this is a good thing. By tightly controlling the hardware, Apple can really go over the driver code with a fine-toothed comb and make sure it's solid and will not take the OS down.

    Microsoft doesn't have this option... a good portion of the reason Windows crashes is not Microsoft's own fault, but some third-party driver, half the time from Korea. Microsoft can try to examine and certify drivers, but even they just don't have the resources to manage the whole tide, especially testing things in combination. Add to that crappy generic clone video and audio cards, where the problem could even be in the HARDWARE...

    While controlling the hardware tightly comes across as unfriendly, this also allows Apple to keep Mac OS X pretty solid and stable. I grant you that's definitely not their only reasoning there -- far from it -- but is the one that I actually find somewhat valid.
  • Re:troll bait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by e4g4 ( 533831 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @11:58AM (#22717672)

    lots of other AT&T phones don't have these kinds of restrictions
    The phones themselves may not have built in restrictions, but AT&T's terms of use sure as hell do. Any heavy bandwidth usage over edge can subject you to cancellation of service - edge is even explicitly restricted to "(i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; and (iii) corporate Intranet access."
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:10PM (#22717892) Journal

    Has anybody, anywhere EVER had a positive user experience with a Java app?
    The Google Maps Mobile implementation for my phone is a J2ME app, and I've had positive experiences with it. The UI is clean and simple, it loads and displays tiles quickly and is fun to use. The screen on my phone is pathetically small, so it's less nice to use than a mapping app on more sensible hardware, but that's not a problem with Java.
  • by itomato ( 91092 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:18PM (#22718016)
    jmorris42: "Adn if Sun actually had a pair of dangling between their legs they would port Java and double dog dare Steve to sue."

    Jonathan Schwartz owes his success (as CEO of Sun) to Steve Jobs. Without Openstep, there would have been no Lighthouse suite.. Without Lighthouse suite, there would be no OpenOffice, and no Schwartz as head of Sun.

    Sun is working on their strategy. Soon, the only thing the iPhone will have over competitors is Design cache' and that "safe, locked-in, tucked-in feeling". Meanwhile, you will be running whatever /where-ever/ as in the original promise of Java. Apple will need Java, not the other way around. There's no way that Apple's SDK alone will meet the demands of Enterprise as it goes headlong into Blackberry territory, especially as more consolidation and competition occurs in the "Smartphone Space".

    Just my $0.02 (.006 THB)
  • by jinxidoru ( 743428 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:24PM (#22718092) Homepage
    Why must everyone focus on the negatives? I have been playing with the SDK for the past few days and have found it to be wonderful. Sure, there are some limitations, but I can understand that. Apple is stuck with a difficult task. They have to balance their desire to provide an open platform for development with privacy and economic concerns. The strength of the iPhone as well as the iPod is that it is this easy to maintain device. I just plug it into my computer and it works. If they are not careful, then they may hinder said benefit. Think of facebook. We were excited about the third-party applications, especially since they had almost no restrictions. Who among us is now not wishing for restrictions, because of all the crappy annoying applications out there?

    I for one am pleased with what they have offered, especially the 70/30 store. That is unprecedented. It also provides a great mechanism for selling open source, which has been very difficult in the past.

    Lastly, as a side note, one big realization, as I have played with the SDK, is actually how unnecessary it is. I also was among the people who was really frustrated with the iPhone SDK is Web 2.0 garbage last year. Now that the power of the iPhone has been unlocked before my eyes, I'm realizing that the majority of the functionality you want to give in an app is completely suppliable by Web 2.0. As I've thought about what I should write, I keep realizing, "No, there's no point in doing that natively, because it could be done in a Web app." Granted, I am not a game developer.
  • Quite true, WM has a wide variety of browsers available for it, Skype works just fine, and I have even seen people use their phone as a WiFi access point connected to the net using EVDO or UTMS.
  • Re:here's one (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:46PM (#22718438)
    Why not use uTorrent [utorrent.com]?

    It's very low resource usage - I had an very old ultraportable notebook running XP with 384MB of Ram and a slow disk, but Opera and uTorrent both ran very well.

    It actually works on ubuntu quite well too -

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=191161 [ubuntuforums.org]

    I've got a question: If you use uTorrent on Linux, will it be as fast as it is on windows? I mean, which is better ,to use Azureus or uTorrent under wine?
    Personally I'd prefer Torrent over Azureus. Both feature filled, but Torrent seems less of a burden on my system. Torrent seems to stay under 10% CPU usage, which is fine with me.
    Pretty much a damning indictment of Java that wine+a small win32 application+a completely different OS actually runs better than a Java one.

    Now I'm sure people will say there are bloated Win32 apps and efficient Java ones and I can think of some examples. But on average Java applications tend to be absurdly resource intensive.
  • Re:troll bait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ink ( 4325 ) * on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @01:41PM (#22719244) Homepage
    iPhoto comes with new Macs. It has never come with OSX. We have three macs here at home, and this has always been the case.

    Back on topic, though, I'm another unimpressed Apple user as far as the iPhone SDK is concerned. I really wanted to pick up an iPhone last summer, but I grabbed a cheap Sony w580i instead because I wanted to wait and see what the SDK would look like. I can happily run my own Java programs (including Opera, GMail, GMaps and XTrainer [which has access to the built-in pedometer!]). I'm an AT&T customer; I would expect nothing less from the iPhone.

    Oh, and my Sony w580i has removable media and batteries. I can upgrade and maintain it without sending it back to Sony or buying a new one. I love Apple's products, but the iPhone is in the same pile with Apple TV, as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps some Android-based device will be my next phone; I'll have to wait and see.

  • Apple? What Apple (Score:1, Interesting)

    by C_Kode ( 102755 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @01:42PM (#22719252) Journal
    I refuse to buy Apple products because of their heavy handed tactics and attempting to force vendor lock in. They are trying to be the "Next Microsoft". (TM)

    Every time I post about Apple, I get modded down by Apple zealotry. Well, you filthy Apple Zealots, get to modding! :D
  • by mckinnsb ( 984522 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:06PM (#22719736)

    At risk of being modded down:

    I'm no fan of blocking Firefox or Opera COMPLETELY for the iPhone (I use both), but the reason why they are preventing FireFox/Opera from having plugin architectures is due to the existence of Skype plugins for Opera/Firefox.

    They aren't blocking Skype completely from the iPhone, they are preventing it from being able to operate over AT&T's cellular network. It can still operate under Wi-Fi. The reason for this is that iPhone plans allow UNLIMITED data transfer currently, and if AT&T wants it to stay that way, it has to prevent Skype from using 3G/EDGE because that will cut into their minutes-per-month pricing plans. That being said, Telecom companies are evil.

    Honestly though, is this entirely unexpected? We will still see Firefox and Opera on the iPhone, possibly, and maybe Apple will relent and allow plugins that don't use the cellular network (like Pop-up blockers, Firebug), but can you really expect a company-no matter how much you question their ethics- to shoot themselves in the foot and destroy their entire buisness model?

    The reason why Skype is allowed on most Windows Mobile devices is because AT&T charges money after the first 5000mb (don't trust that 0 cent per mb), AND they are getting an extra 35-65 dollars depending on your plan. With the iPhone, its included. They would be painting themselves into a corner if they allowed Skype on the iPhone to use the 3G network.

    I'm sure you'll see lots of lovely apps for the iPhone.

    Lastly: I'm not buying one of these stupid things, just so you know. I hate the cellphone I currently have. I run a desktop windows machine I built myself and I have an Apple MacBook. For christs sake though, it really does seem like too many people have a "Jump to Conclusions" mat.

  • by Longstaff ( 70353 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:22PM (#22719994)
    (oh wait, it's the *only* *nix based phone on the market - that actually works)

    My Linux-based Motorola e680 from 2003 would beg to differ. It worked wonderfully, thank you. Full touch screen, minimal buttons (keypad was in the touch screen), mp3 audio, mp4 video playback (this all sound familiar?)....oh yeah and a (vga :-/) camera, video capture, fm tuner and an SD card slot...
  • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorris@NOSPAM.beau.org> on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:45PM (#22720366)
    > Jonathan Schwartz owes his success (as CEO of Sun) to Steve Jobs.

    Ok, I'm willimg to admit I might be mistaken, but I always believed that OpenOffice was a descendent of Star Office which was an old OS/2 app. But since nothing would exist in the computer world without Steve to create it, i'm sure you will find some way to retell the OO.o creation story.

    > Meanwhile, you will be running whatever /where-ever/ as in the original promise of Java.

    Except for the couple million marching morons who buy the shiny handcuffs Steve sells. Java survived it's whole life so far ignoring Linux/BSD/etc because we have never been anything more than an asterisk in the deployed desktop (notice that Java on the server has worked much more reliably on Linux) statistics. Apple, unfortunately, isn't an asterisk. Condemed to always remain under 10% to avoid the wrath of Microsoft, but a real viable player that Java can't ignore and claim "write once, run everywhere" with a straight face.

    > Apple will need Java, not the other way around. There's no way that Apple's SDK alone will meet the
    > demands of Enterprise as it goes headlong into Blackberry territory,

    Steve has never yet shown any signs of wanting or needing ANYONE else with the sole exception of doing whatever it takes to keep Microsoft Office available for the Mac. So no, they won't 'need' Java. Because Apple knows something you obviously don't; Apple will never play in the Enterprise space. Luxury boutique goods are never going to be picked by the green eyeshades types. Kewl industrial design means nothing. Price performance, wide compatibility with Microsoft's 'standards', conformance with actual standards, durability, stable product availibility for long periods of tume, etc. are what corporate types make purchasing decisions based on.

    The limit of Apple's desire to 'operate' in the Enterprise space is to have just enough compatibility with enterprise apps that iPhones that employees purchase themselves aren't banned from corporate networks and/or replaced with a company issued phone/pda.
  • Re:troll bait (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @02:50PM (#22720470) Journal
    Apple will allow you to distribute free applications for the iPhone. I don't understand where you expect all this nickle and dime'ing to come from. As for shutting out hobbyists, I'm just guessing here same as you were, but I haven't seen anything from Apple that leaves me to believe that they'll be particularly selective about who they allow to distribute through iTunes. You just have to make apps that follow their rules.

    The mac world has a very strong history of high quality shareware/freeware. I think a hobbyists windows developer trying to make the jump from the windows and/or linux world to the iPhone will have less to worry about in terms of selectiveness from Apple, than they will from end users. Apple users tend to be much more picky about the appearance/interface of their software.
  • by badboy_tw2002 ( 524611 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @04:31PM (#22721702)
    That's total BS. If they really didn't care they'd give you a fast and easy route to install any app. There's a big difference between running an app that crashes the phone and having your phone bricked by trying to work around their DRM with various hacks and such. I can throw anything up on my WM6 device, and if it crashes, yes, that's my fault, but most of the time I won't destroy my phone by trying to install some java game. Apple is taking a very definite stance here and its not "do what you please, we don't care."

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court