Apple Drops [Redacted] NDA for Released iPhone Firmware!

Apple has just released the following statement (via Daring Fireball, who thinks it might have flowed from Steve Jobs' pen):

We have decided to drop the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for released iPhone software.

We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don’t steal our work. It has happened before. While we have filed for hundreds of patents on iPhone technology, the NDA added yet another level of protection. We put it in place as one more way to help protect the iPhone from being ripped off by others.

However, the NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone’s success, so we are dropping it for released software. Developers will receive a new agreement without an NDA covering released software within a week or so. Please note that unreleased software and features will remain under NDA until they are released.

Updated for clarity: This means that released firmware, like 1.x up to 2.1 is no longer covered by NDA, but un-released firmware, including the current iPhone 2.2 Beta 1, is still under NDA. Okay to talk about what was and what is, but not what will be, b'okay?

Hey, maybe the full on Dieter-rant from the last Phone different podcast finally got to them?

While issues of clarity in the rejection progress and app demo/refund handling remain, this will certainly go a long way towards not only easing the burden on developers, but restoring some of the lost luster (and ill will) Apple has garnered from the developer and blogging community as of late.

What do you think? First step? Giant leap? Or drop in the bucket?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple Drops [Redacted] NDA for Released iPhone Firmware!


Unless I am misreading it it only lifts it for released software, so if they did add push, the developers can't talk about that?

Exactly. Only released software. And it is likely that software submitted but rejected by Apple is still under NDA. So if Apple rejects your app, you can never talk about why ever. Never released, covered by NDA.
Not enough, Apple. If you think Google's phone platform is a threat now, wait until those rejected apps start moving over...

Apple seems to make serious efforts to dig itself out of the problems it created first with the buggy fw 2.0.x and then with the AppStore scandals. I am very happy to see them progress towards more freedom on the iPhone platform. Their tight grip on the devs paid off (somehow) by not publicizing the iPhone platform to the devs who create worthless apps (see RichApp and all other fart-like crapware). It only seems fare that they don't allow devs to talk about their future plans. The secrecy (which stirs enormous curiosity) is one of the key elements of both who Apple is and their marketing and ad campaign. And in what concerns the 2.2 fw maybe it has push, maybe it has even the flash we started hearing about today, maybe it is just full of usability improvements like the ones we keep seeing screenshots of. No one (except Apple staff) knows and this mistery is that makes us scan for the word 'Apple' through our RSS feeds daily.
I personally am very eager to see what a post-Android-launch iPhone firware looks it going to be all about usability and performance? is it going to add new features like push notification or email search or maybe 'shake to shuffle'? I don't know, but I'm sure as hell going to keep an eye on my feeds each day, just in case...