iPhone SDK: No iPod Access for You!

iphone_sdk_no_ipod.jpg

Macnn/iPodnn (via The Inquirer) reports that unlike CoreLocation, which gives access to the Google Maps-like location-based services, Apple's new iPhone SDK will be providing absolutely no access to iPod functionality or the onboard iTunes:

Any functionality related to music playback is inaccessible by the iPhone SDK, a new report claims. While the SDK allows access to many other functions of iPhone and the iPod touch, such as dialing, the camera and Internet access, The Inquirer writes that any components connected to iTunes are off-limits, preventing developers from accessing one of the most popular features of the phone

While this could be an anti-competitive move meant to keep VLC off the iPhone -- or to protect consumers from the horror that would be RealPlayer Touch... -- it may also cripple any Guitar Hero, Rockband, or iPod-style Phase gaming. (Unless Harmonix and other big game developers like EA are granted that oft-mentioned "special dispensation"...?)

Did it used to about the music, and Apple's now telling us to just "sl@g off!"? Or are you happy they're keeping developers' tone-deaf mitts off your shiny (i)tunes? What do you think?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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iPhone SDK: No iPod Access for You!

18 Comments

If the worst of this is that there's no Guitar Hero, I guess I'll just about manage to live with it :)

Given the gaming push, and that Harmonix already develops for the standard iPod, if anyone gets "special dispensation", it will be them.

Not quite. Guitar Hero needs music specifically licenses - re-purposing music for other purposes require an extra fee (for example ring tones of guitar hero).
This is more a question about if 3rd party music players are possible or not, e.g. core media player or winamp.
There are other implications of course - are 3rd party apps capable of accessing the large 7-15Gb partition, and if so, how do media get onto the partition. Would iTunes sync media it cant manage (e.g. .flv files).
One of our experts said that a way for apps to do more was sending messages to the built-in apps. Having one of the more important apps excluded from this reduces the capability of 3rd party apps quite a bit.
Surur

Note that you can actually do a guitar hero - you just can't access the ipod's music library. That is, the sdk allows you to play music you have stored in the documents directory, but provides no direct access to the ipod's built-in music repository. You can also stream music from the network.
The core audio API is in the sdk. The issue is one of accessing the music you already have on there.

Phase (by Harmoix) for the iPod Classic/Nano access the iPod music for gameplay, so Apple has allowed it and may yet still.
Touch Touch Revolution!

No access that I know of, though I'm running only on the simulator which is pre-populated with a few applications, but not the ipod. You definitely can access the photos.
It looks to me like some method of accessing some of this stuff will be coming - the notifications mechanisms and the url access mechanisms seem only partially implemented in the version of the sdk that is public.
Knowing apple, however, i expect any access to the music/movies database to be very restricted, at best.

I thought I had read that core player was working on an Iphone app? I sure hope so or rather I hope we will have some way of putting .avi files on our iphones and playing them because I hate having to convert every video file to apples format to watch it on my phone. Although it still beats watching it on my tiny treo screen ;)

Yes, there appears to me no problem with something like core player (in fact, the sdk shows you how to launch media players), but it can only play videos stored in the sandboxed documents directory or streamed over the network, not videos that are synched over using itunes.

So coreplayer would only have access to a few hundred megabytes of storage? Sweet!It would by like 2003 all over again!
Surur

Where'd you get that number? I haven't noticed anywhere that it specifies a quota or a reserved amount for the sandbox.

Where'd you get that number? I haven't noticed anywhere that it specifies a quota or a reserved amount for the sandbox.
I assume the sandbox is on the same 700 MB partition as the rest of the apps.
There is a further question also of how apps will get their content on the iPhone. Will the iPhone have conduits, or will everything have to be downloaded over WIFI?

I assume the sandbox is on the same 700 MB partition as the rest of the apps.
There is a further question also of how apps will get their content on the iPhone. Will the iPhone have conduits, or will everything have to be downloaded over WIFI?
I am not sure where the sandbox is. In the sdk, it puts stuff in a specific directory in the mac's file path, so clearly it will be different on the device. I'm sure I can dig up the answer in the docs someplace.
No conduit API, as far as I can tell. iphone->desktop seems easy; just read the backup directory (every synch backs up all data to the desktop). No easy way to go the other way (restores don't count). This is on my pet peeve list; palm had this a decade ago. Would be nice if the stupid thing supported bluetooth data transfers.

AVI is just a container. The world seems, slowly, to be moving towards H.264 MP4 as the "standard" for video, and most modern devices now support that standard (with mixed, at best, support for older formats like DivX, XviD, WMV, etc.)
Just like audio has MP3, hopefully MP4 will sort out video*.
(Unless we're talking *cough* downloads *cough* where there's a lot of Xvid and some x264 coming up)

Ya I was speaking of downloads that's where I get most of my TV shows from for the time being anyways. But .avi files work well for me I can stream them nicely from my windows home server to my xbox 360 I haven't noticed if x264 plays nice with the 360. Anyways that was off topic

More stupid restrictions! Another app I can't make for the iPhone... Great, guess the app store will be full of soundboards forever!