iPhone SDK may block Firefox, Java, background apps

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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 Apple?s 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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 82
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 82
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,071member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 82
    dreildreil Posts: 14member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 82
    iq78iq78 Posts: 256member
    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
  • Reply 5 of 82
    jensonbjensonb Posts: 529member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 82
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,071member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 82
    jpellinojpellino Posts: 618member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 82
    iq78iq78 Posts: 256member
    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
  • Reply 9 of 82
    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?
  • Reply 10 of 82
    g3prog3pro Posts: 669member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 82
    fraklincfraklinc Posts: 244member
    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
  • Reply 12 of 82
    akhomerunakhomerun Posts: 386member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 82
    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.....
  • Reply 14 of 82
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 82
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 82
    vinney57vinney57 Posts: 1,162member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 82
    gmon750gmon750 Posts: 39member
    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..
  • Reply 18 of 82
    wilcowilco Posts: 985member
    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
  • Reply 19 of 82
    msnlymsnly Posts: 378member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wilco View Post


    1) Who are you?



    2) Shut up*





    *please



    Now play nice children
  • Reply 20 of 82
    thgdthgd Posts: 6member
    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.
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