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iPhone SDK may block Firefox, Java, background apps

post #1 of 83
Thread Starter 
Conditions set out in Apple's iPhone SDK are dampening hopes of porting some highly valued applications to the handheld device -- including interpreted code, programs within programs, and background applications.

Critics of the cellphone's third-party software creation kit point to a key clause in the company's SDK agreement that appears to restrict all code except that which relies on Apple's own programming interfaces to run, including those that run inside another third-party program's shell.

"No interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apples Published APIs and builtin interpreter(s)," Apple says in the agreement. "An Application may not itself install or launch other executable code by any means, including without limitation through the use of a plug-in architecture, calling other frameworks, other APIs or otherwise."

If taken at face value, the restrictions would ban seemingly innocuous apps, according to a blog entry made by Mozilla developer Rob Sayre. Besides the Firefox web browser made by his own company, programs such as Opera and Excel would be forbidden from running on the phone as-is due to their uses of scripting language inside the software. Even some games that use an interpretive language in the background, such as Quake, would also be barred from the iPhone.

Web add-ons and scripting languages such as Flash and Ruby may also face censure from the device, the developer claims. The restriction could potentially silence Sun's Java plans: the software not only interprets code but also runs other programs inside its virtual environment. Sun is aware of the potential obstacles, according to PCMag's Sascha Segan, but may find ways to offer an iPhone Java engine, including direct engagement with Apple.

"If there are clauses in the iPhone beta SDK license agreement that potentially limit third party application distribution, then these are items that we want to have a positive discussion with Apple about," says Sun's Java marketing VP, Eric Klein.

More worrisome to other observers is Apple's declaration that third-party software can't run in the background. Without this, many developers will be blocked from writing programs that depend on persistence to work, including not just instant messaging software, VoIP, or other Internet-savvy tools but also software that polls the rest of the system, such as simulated GPS tools. As TechCrunch chief Mike Arrington and others note, leaving these programs to answer a call or browse the web immediately shuts them down, rendering them ineffective.

Some reports from SDK users, including one entry at Gizmodo, note that Apple may not enforce the background application rule in code: halting the application suspend function may work. However, Apple has not yet said whether it will examine the code of programs submitted for download on the App Store, which would quickly catch these violations of the agreement.

Apple itself has so far shed little light on the situation. A company representative declined to answer a Wired editor's questions on the matter.
post #2 of 83
Developers can program their apps however they want. The software just won't be hosted by Apple in their App Store.

Personally, I wouldn't even put that nasty, cluster-f**k dinosaur Java anywhere near my iPhone.
post #3 of 83
Now that Apple has made a software development kit available that allows each and everbody to write applications for the device (and make profit if they are any good) - there are no other questions than how to get competing development platforms, freeware browsers that do not work well on mobile devices (not even Android is using Firefox) and potentially harmful or resource eating background apps on the phone?

Apple, do us all a favour - do not refuse to comment. Tell them - flat - no. Otherwise we will have this whining people who want to capitalise on others intellectual property and R&D for the rest of the year.
post #4 of 83
I see this as a way for Apple to block apps they don't want running on the iPhone, while permitting those they do.

This way, flash or java can be stopped, while AIM and others let through, all dependent on when Apple enforces the TOS.
post #5 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Developers can program their apps however they want. The software just won't be hosted by Apple in their App Store.

Personally, I wouldn't even put that nasty, cluster-f**k dinosaur Java anywhere near my iPhone.


It is my understanding that Apple can (and likely will) remotely disable any rogue application. I'm not sure when the "phone home" would be done, but that is my understanding.

IAMIQ78
post #6 of 83
Damn, I wanted a Last.fm sproggler on my iPod touch. Well, maybe it could work as a send thing, but tthat's kind of lame.

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post #7 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Developers can program their apps however they want. The software just won't be hosted by Apple in their App Store.

Well, the way I understood the keynote only Apple will add the required signature to the code after it has been submitted to the App Store and the iPhone OS 2.0 will only run properly signed applications. So, IMHO, no - they cannot.
post #8 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreil View Post

I see this as a way for Apple to block apps they don't want running on the iPhone, while permitting those they do.

This way, flash or java can be stopped, while AIM and others let through, all dependent on when Apple enforces the TOS.


It's also a way of making sure you don't have the unintended consequences that make Windows and phones that do run Java with god-knows-what interface. We all know what a joy those two environments are.
post #9 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

Now that Apple has made a software development kit available that allows each and everbody to write applications for the device (and make profit if they are any good) - there are no other questions than how to get concurring development platforms, freeware browsers that do not work well on mobile devices (not even Android is using Firefox) and potentially harmful or resource eating background apps on the phone?

Apple, do us all a favour - do not refuse to comment. Tell them - flat - no. Otherwise we will have this whining people who want to capitalise on others intellectual property and R&D for the rest of the year.


I agree. With a consumer electronic appliance (phone, music player, DVD player, etc) the #1 goal is to have the appliance work. Because of the general (and complex) nature of computers (and partly because of Microsoft) people are use to computers not always functioning. However, people will have a hissy fit if their phone stops working on their iPhone, or they can no longer play music on their iPod.

I believe Apple sees the iPod and iPhone as an electronic appliance that simply must perform certain basic functions 99.9% of the time and for the thing to have a solid, consistant and simple user experience. They do not want their elegant iPhone crapped up with software hi-jacking basic functions that make iPhones look crappy. They do not want an application to hog resources to an extent that when they try to use a built-in iPhone function (make a call, check voice mail, etc) it allows those functions to look and feel crappy by locking-up or having slow response times. They want to insure that the iPhone experience is maintained PERIOD !!! Very reasonable.... however,....

It does sort of suck that this means choices will be taken away from the consumer. But this is not new to Apple with Job's in charge. It is a blessing and a curse.

Let's just hope they allow GOOD programs, even if they must run in the background or use a program within a program to exist, and just block the crappy ones.

I find Apple's stance reasonable and possibly necessary, and at the same time dissapointing.

IAMIQ78
post #10 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Developers can program their apps however they want. The software just won't be hosted by Apple in their App Store.

Personally, I wouldn't even put that nasty, cluster-f**k dinosaur Java anywhere near my iPhone.

I think there's a rather large market out there for LimeWire on the iPhone, don't you?
post #11 of 83
I don't know how anyone can defend such ridiculous limitations and consider the device "open". This is definitely not the open platform I was hoping for as a developer.
Fragmentation is not just something we have to acknowledge and accept. Fragmentation is something that we deal with every day, and we must accept it as a fact of the iPhone platform experience.

Ste...
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Fragmentation is not just something we have to acknowledge and accept. Fragmentation is something that we deal with every day, and we must accept it as a fact of the iPhone platform experience.

Ste...
Reply
post #12 of 83
It's nice to have all kinds of options but Firefox is one thing i might wanna skip on a mobile device, why???? firefox is kind of hard on the memory, but i'll take it over internet explorer any day if i had no other options
post #13 of 83
some of these limitations are a great idea and will make for a better overall experience. however totally banning some of them is a little much.

cutting off the applications on a call is a good idea because you want the phone to be reliable and you don't want performance being taken by a backgound app, and you don't want your battery life taken either. but outside of calling, i think background apps should be acceptable

i know that staying online in apollo IM all the time eats battery life, too, but i'm sure a lot of people would still want to do it.

as far as running scripting, that's probably a measure against viruses/malware. i think apple may have to talk to developers individually. i think apple will want to work to get java on their phone, since so many other phones support it.
post #14 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

I don't know how anyone can defend such ridiculous limitations and consider the device "open". This is definitely not the open platform I was hoping for as a developer.

I think it would be foolish to consider this an open platform.
The one thing you can consistantly say about Apple throughout their history is they NEVER do anything "open".
Ask Franklin computer corporation.......

PS:Thank God Apple operates this way, being more like MicroSoft would NOT be an improvement.....
post #15 of 83
I would imagine Apple won't be super strict on this. Their should be some room for flexibility. It sounds as if they are primarily guarding against someone building an alternative structure that will allow apps to be built and distributed outside of Apple's control.
post #16 of 83
Quote:
If there are clauses in the iPhone beta SDK license agreement that potentially limit third party application distribution, then these are items that we want to have a positive discussion with Apple about," says Sun's Java marketing VP, Eric Klein.

Gee, maybe he should pick up the phone and talk to someone at Apple. I bet they'd take his call. That seems more productive than telling the world that Sun "would want to have a discussion with Apple." Have the discussion already. Maybe, gosh, negotiate? Bring something to the table. When you are a multi-billion dollar company you have a few more options than the mom-and-pop developers at whom the basic licensing language is aimed.
post #17 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

I don't know how anyone can defend such ridiculous limitations and consider the device "open". This is definitely not the open platform I was hoping for as a developer.

Oh grow up. They are perfectly sensible limitations. Who said it it was 'open'? Play by the rules or don't play.
post #18 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

I don't know how anyone can defend such ridiculous limitations and consider the device "open". This is definitely not the open platform I was hoping for as a developer.

How did you escape your parent's basement?! Go back to where you belong! Whiners are not welcomed here!

The world will pass you by kiddo..
post #19 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by gmon750 View Post

How did you escape your parent's basement?! Go back to where you belong! Whiners are not welcomed here!

The world will pass you by kiddo..

1) Who are you?

2) Shut up*





*please
post #20 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilco View Post

1) Who are you?

2) Shut up*


*please

Now play nice children
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post #21 of 83
Apple owns the iPhone. They can establish whatever rules they want.
They aren't going to throw it wide open so any hacker can either purposely or accidently cripple the device.
There are plenty of serious programmers who welcome the chance to develop compelling applications for the iPhone and they realize some limitations are necessary, at least for now.
If you have developed the greatest app in the world but can't do it without a wide open iPhone SDK, that's our loss. We'll look for it running on a competitors device.
post #22 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by night9hawk View Post

I think there's a rather large market out there for LimeWire on the iPhone, don't you?

And where would the files actually download to? That, and I can see battery life drain to nothing while files are uploading/downloading.
post #23 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by thgd View Post

Apple owns the iPhone. They can establish whatever rules they want.
They aren't going to throw it wide open so any hacker can either purposely or accidently cripple the device.
There are plenty of serious programmers who welcome the chance to develop compelling applications for the iPhone and they realize some limitations are necessary, at least for now.
If you have developed the greatest app in the world but can't do it without a wide open iPhone SDK, that's our loss. We'll look for it running on a competitors device.

I agree and whoever uses the iPhone would want the safest possible environment so there weren't any crashes or freezes that would take away from the happy user experience.

I think anyone wanting to make any comments on what will work or what won't should watch the SDK keynote here: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/iphoneroadmap/

It does explain so much with developers actually creating apps from scratch to show. The apps are designed for iPhone simplicity and easy use, etc. Much will be coming out with v2.0. It was very informative.
post #24 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

I don't know how anyone can defend such ridiculous limitations and consider the device "open". This is definitely not the open platform I was hoping for as a developer.

What the hell do you actually need that can't be handled on a per session basis? It's a telephone for Gods sake. There wasn't a single application (other than FF) listed in the front story that can't be handled transparently starting and stopping as far as the user of an iPhone will be concerned. The scripting is out, but for good reason. Only a shift in application developer design philosophy need take place. Apple is only telling us this is not supported as a multi-programming device.

Without a look at the iPhone scheduler code I can't say whether this is low level or a high level limitation, but if the scheduler only allows a single app at a time to run, saving a state to flash and reconstituting at re-launch is the functional equivalent of the OS context switching an app of the cpu and back on again. Only a dev has to manually handle the data flow, not the OS.

Bottom line message: Dev's need to actually have a point about what the are whining about and know where the platform architectural limitations are, because a background app that isn't on the CPU is just as not running as an app that is "shut down". And that isn't necessarily a political decision, but can be an OS/HW based architectural one. Now quit whining and remember how to put data on a user stack or other appropriate structure. Look at the best way to program for the platform, don't try to be lazy and foist ill-fit desktop PC usage patterns on non-desktop PC hardware. With the flash storage your I/O penalties are orders of magnitude less and you can take full advantage of that whenever or if you ever decide to quit belly-aching. I code. I have the SDK. I haven't run into a show-stopper yet for any of the apps I have considered working with.
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post #25 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

I don't know how anyone can defend such ridiculous limitations and consider the device "open". This is definitely not the open platform I was hoping for as a developer.

Who says its 'open'?
I have no interest in an 'open' phone.
I want one that's locked down like a drum but with well vetted, tested, and supported SDK calls to a well controlled API. There will be apps aplenty, and none of them stomping on each other.
You want an 'open' virus laden cesspool, dive into Windows Mobile.

I'm thrilled with Apple's approach on this.
post #26 of 83
Count me among those who are very happy with Apple's terms. I'm really impressed by Apple's SDK kit and its ease of programming, so I expect a LOT of really good applications that work smoothly. I'm very excited about the imaginative things people will be able to do and have even thought about making some custom programs for myself.

I don't understand why people think they should just get whatever they want. Most people are not geeks, and prefer things that just work. The rest of us will jailbreak the thing and install whatever we want.
post #27 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

Now that Apple has made a software development kit available that allows each and everbody to write applications for the device (and make profit if they are any good) - there are no other questions than how to get competing development platforms, freeware browsers that do not work well on mobile devices (not even Android is using Firefox) and potentially harmful or resource eating background apps on the phone?

Apple, do us all a favour - do not refuse to comment. Tell them - flat - no. Otherwise we will have this whining people who want to capitalise on others intellectual property and R&D for the rest of the year.

Hello? Did I wake up in another dimension or something? This is FIREFOX we are talking about. Don't get caught up in the hype just because we're all apple fans here. We are not blind followers but fans for a reason. If apple is doing something that might be a bit disturbing then its our duty to let them know.
Firefox can easily be adapted to run well on mobile devices so please try not to kid yourselves. What I am more worried about is that not allowing others browsers (and other certain applications) on the phone will be very similar to the situation Microsoft found themselves in when they forced users to use internet explorer on windows. Hello? Antitrust....trouble with the U.S. government and any other government they want to sell their stuff too?
I'm sure it would amuse the hell out of Bill Gates and Microsoft if Steve Jobs and Apple got into similar trouble with their new platform.
post #28 of 83
How many other phones run Java, Firefox and Skype?
post #29 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreil View Post

I see this as a way for Apple to block apps they don't want running on the iPhone, while permitting those they do.

This way, flash or java can be stopped, while AIM and others let through, all dependent on when Apple enforces the TOS.

Everyone wants to cry about "what if". These regulations are to make the iPhone environment safe for non-technical people, not to stifle development.

All Apple is really saying is they own the platform & have written in the legal right to determine what is installed on the platform. It doesn't mean that you can't find a way to install non-approved apps, just means Apple has the right to take measures to deny support of devices in the face of such actions.

Come on, don't be stupid. If I make something I plan to support I should have the right to set restrictions on that. My time is money & I don't want to spend it helping a bunch of developers debug their apps on my platform at the expense of the user experience & my own personal time & money.

If you want 100% unrestricted access to an OS go Linux & quit bothering those of us who want an OS that actually doesn't require I be a programmer to get any level of use out of it.
post #30 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by Olternaut View Post

Hello? Did I wake up in another dimension or something? This is FIREFOX we are talking about. Don't get caught up in the hype just because we're all apple fans here. We are not blind followers but fans for a reason. If apple is doing something that might be a bit disturbing then its our duty to let them know.
Firefox can easily be adapted to run well on mobile devices so please try not to kid yourselves. What I am more worried about is that not allowing others browsers (and other certain applications) on the phone will be very similar to the situation Microsoft found themselves in when they forced users to use internet explorer on windows. Hello? Antitrust....trouble with the U.S. government and any other government they want to sell their stuff too?
I'm sure it would amuse the hell out of Bill Gates and Microsoft if Steve Jobs and Apple got into similar trouble with their new platform.

No, I am in the dimension in which Firefox is already one of the slowest browsers on any platform - and Safari the fastest on the two platforms it covers, Firefox (and the rest of the Mozilla gang) do not even render CSS in form elements correctly - so it does not show me pages as they have been designed. So, I have no need for it - not on OS X, not on iPhone OS and not on Windows. Anyhow - Apple does not disallow browsers in the terms - if they compile Firefox in a way that fulfills the requirements for the iPhone OS (no calls to external applications, etc.), I cannot see how or why Apple would have any objections.

You do realise that the whole antitrust/monopoly story has something to do with marketshare? Internationally: Windows on the desktop > 90% - iPhone Marketshare < 1%. Bill Gates will have to get pretty old to attend that party.
post #31 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsNly View Post

Now play nice children

You children have driven me to quote myself
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post #32 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post

You do realise that the whole antitrust/monopoly story has something to do with marketshare? Internationally: Windows on the desktop > 90% - iPhone Marketshare < 1%. Bill Gates will have to get pretty old to attend that party.

You're absolutely right. At the time of that decision, Microsoft had the overwhelming marketshare in the OS for essentially all personal computing devices and they used that monopoly to extend into other markets wherever possible. For example, they basically took over the market for "accessing the Web." Today the iPhone has nothing like a monopoly in any area, and likely never will. And Apple is certainly in no position to (and has no interest in) using it's control over Mac OS (on Macs and iPhones) to somehow make Safari the dominant browser across platforms.

Frankly if Safari didn't exist and Apple needed a browser, they might very well have fought to get Firefox on the iPhone. But at this point a second "competing" browser just isn't necessary, for Apple or for iPhone users.

In any case complaints about a monopoly problem on this issue are a joke.
post #33 of 83
Unfortunately, most people don't think about how hard it is to engineer something to work as intended. I remember my professor used to tell us "always take little baby steps" and thats what Apple is doing. I personally think that they are the correct track. Releasing a totally open system is not that easy and require a long period of development. Its not like they have the magic stick.

and please... the iPhone is only 400 MHz single core processor not a dual core!

I already have problems with my iPhone draining the battery in less than 4 hour due to constantly trying to check the email using wifi without success. I have to turn off wifi and only turn on when I need it. The problem is that our university wifi requires log in using the web browser to be able to connect to the internet. As soon as I am in range, my iPhone auto connect to the wifi hotspot and try to check email but without success because it is not connected to the internet yet. So it keeps trying until I am out of range causing my battery to completely drain in few hours. I don't think you really want this happening to you,
post #34 of 83
Well... it's Apple's baby. Third party developers who didn't spend any money to develop or market it don't have any automatic right to put their software on it.
post #35 of 83
I take all these passionate discussions a sign that many people don't really want to go back to Windows that still dominates ~90% desktop market, or Google who dominates nearly 60% of online search revenue, but rather move on to try this new iPhone thing. But focusing on the negative before the SDK product and program are even out of Beta I think is just premature.

It IS YOUR phone once you buy it. You CAN do WHATEVER you want on it. Does not mean Apple should teach you how or make it easy for you.

You can go buy a new car. You can then hot rod it, soup it up, swap in any auto part you want. The dealership and car maker have no say in it, but they are not obligated to help you or keep warrenty on something outside of their manufacturing design. But it is STILL your car.

After the rise of MS and Linux, most people treat every OS and S/W as easily separable components from H/W. Nobody remembers when a company packaged its own H/W+S/W like Atari, HP, and Sun used to do. Apple still believes their own S/W scheme is an intricate part of the overall design of the product. Have people read about CISCO and othe network companies plans to put smart network devices that has its own 'brains' or VM to manage OSs and control what goes on what hardware or through what data channel? Which FOSS lobby is protesting that?

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of iPhones have already been jailbroken. I expect even more creative store-breakouts for v.2.0. If you want to develop apart from using iPhone's native API, help yourself. Who knows? By this fall maybe anything is possible. A more creative entrepreneur may actually prefer Apple stay strict so he can set up a new business to help customized configuration and alternative phone plans. If there is a compelling case for Java for the enterprise, don't you think Apple will court after it by their recent overtures toward corporate customers? Limitations should make people more creative.

I don't have a Mac or an iPhone. BTW, between the monster size threads going around on these forum sites centered on the iPhone controversy, my IE7 has crashed. FF2 just freezes repeatedly. Opera can't even render Slashdot pages right. But Safari 3.0.4 on this XP is just flying and the graphics look sharp. I for one appreciate a quality product when I see it.
post #36 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiro View Post

There wasn't a single application (other than FF) listed in the front story that can't be handled transparently starting and stopping as far as the user of an iPhone will be concerned.

How about instant messaging apps? A conversation will be a single session, but how would you handle maintaining a user's status (online, busy, etc...) and be able to receive incoming messages once you close the conversation to move to another app?
It seems to me that some code needs to keep running to watch out for incoming contacts.

(constant battery draw is a different story... not sure how much impact this would have...)
post #37 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hugo View Post

How about instant messaging apps? A conversation will be a single session, but how would you handle maintaining a user's status (online, busy, etc...) and be able to receive incoming messages once you close the conversation to move to another app?
It seems to me that some code needs to keep running to watch out for incoming contacts.

Well, maybe it's just me, but I do NOT want people chatting to me if I'm on the phone.

If I decide some phone call is more important than the ongoing chat, I would politely warn my chat contact and pick up the call. I can even set up an auto-polite-warning to do that if needed.

At that point the chat app can very well freeze, I don't see what the problem with that is.

On my computer, when the network link breaks up for some reason, sending a message results in a (pretty obvious) error. But when the link is established again, the conversation can resume without any problem.

So barring a few technical hickups with an iPhone chat client, which can be hammered out with time, this seems to me a non-issue.
post #38 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by IQ78 View Post

It is my understanding that Apple can (and likely will) remotely disable any rogue application. I'm not sure when the "phone home" would be done, but that is my understanding.

IAMIQ78


WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Where did this "phone home" idea come from? Do you have a link or something like this to support your statement? I may have missed this but you seem to have some info that others don't.
post #39 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by deanston View Post

I don't have a Mac or an iPhone. BTW, between the monster size threads going around on these forum sites centered on the iPhone controversy, my IE7 has crashed. FF2 just freezes repeatedly. Opera can't even render Slashdot pages right. But Safari 3.0.4 on this XP is just flying and the graphics look sharp. I for one appreciate a quality product when I see it.

LOL, Safari has crashed on my Mac at least once a day for last week. And for that matter, it's crashed a couple of times on my iPod touch in the last few weeks as well.
post #40 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by gmon750 View Post

How did you escape your parent's basement?! Go back to where you belong! Whiners are not welcomed here!

The world will pass you by kiddo..

Ah the Apple zealots appear. Anything and every thing that Apple says and does is a decree from on high, from he who must not be named. Never stare or match his gaze. You are looking upon the very face of Jobs.
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