After many months of trying to prevent users from installing third-party applications on its smartphone and handheld, the Mac maker is relenting. And although the details on how this is going to work won't be revealed until March 6, iLounge claims it has been given a preview by several unnamed sources.
If these sources are correct, then the rules are going to be in line with some of the most pessimistic predictions: Apple is going to insist on approving all iPhone applications before they can be released, and require that they be sold only through the iTunes Store.
There are advantages and disadvantages to such a system. It will mean that users will be able to completely trust that any application they purchase through iTunes will be high quality and won't cause problems for their device. On the negative side, the need for Apple to pre-test all software is likely to greatly cut down on the number of applications available.
In addition, Apple is supposedly going to prevent developers from writing software drivers that make use of the Dock Connector, which essentially closes the door on many third-party accessories, such as keyboards.
What role Bluetooth might play in this in unknown. So far, Apple has reduced the functionality of this short-range networking standard to only headsets.
According to iLounge's sources, Apple is going to release a beta of the Software Development Kit (SD) next week, with the full version not scheduled until the company's developer conference in June.
Still, Apple is supposedly going to use the March 6 event to announce that these products will support Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes. If true, this will likely go a long way toward making these devices more accepted by, and useful to, many business users.
Not Following the Rules
If too many people find Apple's rules for distributing third-party iPhone and iPod touch applications too restrictive, then it's likely there will continue to be an alternate, unauthorized system.
That's what's happening now. There's a growing library of software available for Apple's mobile products that have been modified -- called jail breaking -- to allow them to run these applications.
At this point, it should be emphasized that iLounge's report is unconfirmed, and that no one will definitely know the details of Apple's mobile software system until March 6.
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