iPhone 3G 2.0 SDK 3rd Party Apps Rumor Roundup

Monday we asked you "What's the iPhone 3G Chip and When Will it Ship?". Tuesday it was "What is the iPhone 3G Going to Look Like?". Wednesday brought "What Surprises Will There Be in the iPhone 2.0 Software & Services?" Today we want to know what 3rd party iPhone SDK Apps might be ready to download come launch day?

EA, Salesforce, AOL, Sega, and a noble few were right there at the beginning, and since then dozens if not hundreds of others have been rumored if not confirmed, including titans like Microsoft, Sun, and Adobe. But who will be ready come game (and business!) day? Bioshock? Documents2Go? SlingBox? Flash?! What do YOU think?

To give you some help, here's a HUGE roundup of all the iPhone SDK 3rd party apps rumors. Epic-style. Because let's face it, roughly 0.01 seconds after Steve Jobs pulled the first iPhone from his pocket back at Macworld 2007, and someone, somewhere, put aside their childlike sense of wonder long enough think: "Nice! What's the next gen going to be like?"

Complementary, contradictory, obvious, confusing, all but confirmed or from left field via outer space, the rumors have flooded the internet ever since. It's become almost impossible to keep track of them all.

Four days from today Steve Jobs takes Moscone Center stage for the sold-out WWDC keynote, and according to everyone and their newsfeed, announces the iPhone 3G. In eager anticipation, every day this week, TiPb wil be asking you to tell us what you think the next generation iPhone will be, from 3G to GPS, release dates to price points, colors to casings, 2.0 software to .Mac .Me services, and this weekend we'll wrap it all up with a look into the WWDC/iPhone 3G Crystal Ball, and a roundup of the very best of YOUR predictions.

So come on, let's get in on!

WWDC -4 and Counting: 3rd Party SDK Apps

The Mac is an open computing platform. The iPod is a closed environment. The iPhone? At launch it was as closed as they come. Sure, a few courageous souls were willing to "jailbreak" (hack) their devices and load on unofficial and unsupported 3rd party apps, but that was it. At WWDC 2007, however, Steve Jobs introduced 3rd party apps -- Web Apps, showcasing Web 2.0-style AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML), and enraging developers. The iPhone was built on OS X, the same core that ran the Mac. It was a computer, and a new class of mobile device. Where were the real, native apps?

Let’s start there, at the beginning and work our way forward:

October 17, 2007: After months of all-to-typical Apple silence, Steve Jobs penned one of his famous open letters, announcing that an SDK would be in developers hands by February. But how open would it be, what kind of apps would it allow, and most importantly, would it make the iPhone a truly first-class smartphone at long last?

iPhone SDK: Is it a Smartphone Yet?

March 6, 2008: Apple held their iPhone SDK Roadmap Event.

iPhone SDK Roadmap

Scott Forstall, VP of the iPhone Platform, introduced the SDK, including the Cocoa Touch development environment, which would enhance not only the business focus, but put Apple boldly into the mobile gaming space. Demos included Apple's own Touch Fighter, as well as Salesforce, Epocrates, AOL Instant Messenger, Spore, and Super Monkey Ball.

With a Mac-honed development environment behind it, Xcode, debugging tools, and a learning curve that saw demos produced in a startling 2 weeks, it suggested that even if Apple failed to deliver everything it needed to in 2.0, there was a chance 3rd parties could step in to fill the gap.

iPhone 2.0 SDK

The only new icon to make its way onto the home screen, Steve Jobs showed off the App Store, hoping to do for application marketing and sales what the iTunes Store had done for media: put it in front of millions of impulse buyers.

iPhone 2.0 App Store

And to prove how serious they were, they pledged to provide free apps for free, and arranged to have $100,000,000 in VC funding thrown at developers to help drive interest in the platform.

March 8, 2008: John Carmack, long outspoken on Apple, gaming, and the iPhone, posted on Slashdot about pulling the id Software Quake/Doom trigger on the iPhone SDK, and his interest in the App Store.

There'd be unofficial Quake ports for jailbroken iPhones, but getting the real deal...?

iPhone SDK: id Software Doom and Quake

Craig Hockenberry of Iconfactory and Twitterific fame, had developed for the jailbroken iPhone, and was quickly transitioning to the SDK. His early feelings? How would demos, betas, and paid upgrades work? And please charge developers more to keep them ultra-serious, and consumers less to set off a high-volume perfect app storm.

March 10, 2008: Sun Microsystems was one of the megacorps to try and horn its flagship -- in this case Java -- onto the iPhone via the SDK. Java VP, Eric Klein announced:

We’re going to make sure that the JVM offers the Java applications as much access to the native functionality of the iPhone as possible

A rival development environment famed for "craplets" littering feature phones, almost no one was excited by the idea.

iPhone SDK: Sun Java + Apple Cocoa = Moka?

DataViz, makers of the formidable mobile office suite, Documents To Go, weren't committing to anything yet:

We are currently investigating the opportunity to develop Documents To Go, RoadSync, Passwords Plus and any of our other software titles for the iPhone and would appreciate your feedback.

At the same time, Ars Technica brought word that the SDK contained a beta of LLVM (Lower Level Virtual Machine) technology as part of the Xcode 3.1 beta. While on the extreme geek side of news, this held implications well into the future of the platform.

March 12, 2008: Makers of Vox, TypePad, and Movable Type, Six Apart revealed that they would be working on an SDK-compliant native TypePad app.

iambic software, veteran Palm and Windows Mobile developers of Agendus, SplashID, and other best-sellers, also weighed in:

[T]o clear up any doubt — yes, we started working on making titles available on the iPhone.

Rogue Amoeba, developers of Audio Hijack and Airfoil, however, expressed concerns about the SDK's security requirement for "code signing" and the ambiguity around which apps, exactly, would be "disallowed". Third party developers, they argued had before and would again fix things no first party could ever cover all on their own.

iPhone SDK: Rogue Amoeba Concerns

Of course, this didn't stop Apple from announcing a web-server shattering 100,000,000 iPhone SDK Event views via streaming video, and an even more impressive 100,000 SDK downloads. They also listed more developers on board: Intuit (makers of Quicken), Namco (makers of Pac Man and other games), NetSuite (makers of SuitePhone), Rocket Mobile, Six Apart, PopCap (makers of Bejewled and other games), and THQ (maker of countless games).

Lastly, iFund venture capitalists joked that while they had bet on the amount of business plans they'd receive during the first 30-days following the SDK release, the number they'd bet on was blown past within 36 hours (!).

March 15, 2008: After a brief period of digestion, would-be iPhone developers realized the SDK license did not allow for multi-tasking, rendering apps like Instant Messenger functionally impossible. The outcry was long and loud.

iPhone SDK: No Multi-Tasking

March 19, 2008: Following the fiasco of false Flash rumors, Adobe's denials, concerns of security and privacy, and Steve Jobs' no-Flash-fits, Adobe's CEO, Shantanu Narayen said we may still see Flash after all:

We believe Flash is synonymous with the Internet experience, and we are committed to bringing Flash to the iPhone. We have evaluated (the software developer tools) and we think we can develop an iPhone Flash player ourselves.

March 20, 2008: As has become increasingly common in the tech industry, (see: Gates, re: Windows 7) a company had to clarify their CEO's "visionary" statements. Adobe wasted no time re-spinning Flash for the iPhone from a "yes" to a "huh? who? us?":

[T]o bring the full capabilities of Flash to the iPhone web-browsing experience we do need to work with Apple beyond and above what is available through the SDK and the current license around it. We think Flash availability on the iPhone benefits Apple and Adobe’s millions of joint customers, so we want to work with Apple to bring these capabilities to the device.

iPhone SDK: Smashing Flash Rumors

News also surfaced that Apple's iPhone SDK would not allow any access to the iPod application. No music. No media. This joined multi-tasking and the dock as things left unsurfaced in SDK API's. (Though Apple maintained a separate Dock licensing program).

iPhone SDK: No iPod Access for You!

March 22, 2008: The debate over multi-tasking continued with Hockenberry, iChat developer Jens Alfke, and DaringFireball's John Gruber all giving opinions on radio power requirements, notification overloads and collisions, and RAM limitations.

March 25, 2008: ActiveSync licensor and tech monopoly Microsoft jumped on the SDK bandwagon, Mac BU (developers of Office 2008 for Mac)-style when Tom Gibbons, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Specialized Devices and Applications Group told Fortune Magazine:

It’s really important for us to understand what we can bring to the iPhone. To the extent that Mac Office customers have functionality that they need in that environment, we’re actually in the process of trying to understand that now.

And the Adobe Flash soap-opera continued with interweb blaster Robert Scoble claiming that it was Adobe's demands that Apple use their PDF renderer that was causing Apple to retaliate by withholding Flash support, with the media (and consumers) being manipulated by both sides against each other.

iPhone SDK: Adobe vs. Apple on PDF and Flash

March 26, 2008: Fortune Magazine let it be known that Microsoft was also interested in bringing their TellMe voice recognition software to the iPhone SDK. General Manager Mike McCue said:

We’re absolutely going to get a version out there as soon as we can, get TellMe out there on the iPhone.

iPhone SDK: Microsoft TellMe Voice Recognition

March 27, 2008: iPhone SDK Beta 2 is released by Apple, changing the release numbers from 1.2.0 to an official 2.0.

April 9, 2008: After besetting developers with mock-worthy "pink screens of death" when Beta 2 timed out, Apple rev'd the iPhone SDK to Beta 3.

April 16, 2008: Super Monkey Ball developer Ethan Einhorn gave to GameCyte a look at the app Sega famously showed off at the SDK Event. Confidence in the iPhone as a gaming platform? Soaring.

April 21, 2008: Netnewswire developer Brent Simmons brought attention to the stability problems that Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight caused by way of his error/crash logs:

I’ve said it before — one of my favorite things about the iPhone is no Flash. I will now add and no SilverlightPlugin.

April 24, 2008: iPhone 2.0 SDK Beta 4 hit, with Xcode IDE, iPhone simulator with Open GL ES support, Interface Builder, Instruments, frameworks and samples, compilers, and Shark analysis tool.

April 25, 2008: Digital Arts reported that Sun Microsystems was still trying to bring their Java Virtual Machine (JVM) to the iPhone SDK. And to hedge their bets, they were also working with alcheMo developer Innaworks, whose software could potentially let Java programs compile as native iPhone apps (!).

April 26, 2008: Simon Brocklehurst complained that the iPhone SDK seemed rushed, that Apple chose their own Objective C/Cocoa environment for iPhone development, and that programmers wouldn't want to go near it. 3 strikes and he was out...

April 30, 2008: Apple Insider revealed a very interesting RIM job posting, seemingly targeting the iPhone SDK:

As part of a newly-created team, you’ll influence the development and design of BlackBerry software. This is a very confidential brand new team and a senior position within RIM so I can’t provide too many details. I guess you can figure out what it might be about though.

Blackberry Connect for the iPhone? They've done it for other platforms.

iPhone SDK: RIM Can Has iPhone?

May 1, 2008: Apple Insider took a look at the hardware and SDK software support behind the iPhone, and determined it could give hardcore mobile gaming a run for its money.

iPhone SDK: Hardcore Gaming

May 2, 2008: Giving Adobe a run for its drama money, Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz sat down with Engadget Mobile to talk about his iPhone, his desire to get Java on it, and the problems faced:

Well I think the only difficulty will be what Apple presents through its EULA. But I think that I think EULA is a bit of an oxymoron to me. They’re end users, they have the freedom to choose what they’d like to do, so I think we are going to leave it up to users to decide how they want to use the technology

May 7, 2008: iPhone 2.0 Beta 5 landed with not much new, it seemed, but dev tools and tweaks.

May 9, 2008: Polarbit showed off an early version of their Raging Thunder car racing game running on the iPhone. General interweb reaction? Wow!

May 17, 2008: iPhone Dev Camp 2 was announced for August 1-3. The second event, this time focusing on SDK-enabled native apps, is once again set to be hosted by... Adobe!

May 28, 2008: Less than three months in, and Apple released iPhone 2.0 Beta 6, which now required both OS X 10.5.3, and a check for Application IDs. This could well be the final beta going in to WWDC. Any last minute surprises?

May 29, 2008: The $100,000,000 VC iFund announced its first "winners": Pelago's Wrll, a core-location come social networking app for finding places and getting recommendations from friends, and iControl's Home Security, a home automation and security app.

They are also reportedly considering 10 additional startups out of 1700 applicants.

May 30, 2008: Pocket Gamer bumped into CEO Sean Malatesta who revealed that IG Fun wanted to port XBox 360 favorite BioShock to the iPhone.

June 2, 2008: Palm emulation software maker StyleTap announced they would be providing a way for the thousands of existing Palm OS apps to run via the iPhone SDK.

Your Turn!

So there you go, now it's your turn. Tell us what 3rd party iPhone SDK apps YOU think will be ready to go at launch. Microsoft Office? Unreal Tournament? AOL IM? Java emulation?!

And after you're done telling us, don't forget to head over to our iPhone Blog's super Wait-a-Thon spectacular where you could win an iPhone 3G of your very own, whatever it looks like, on the very day it's released!

Go back and read Part 1: What's the iPhone's 3G Chip and When Will it Ship?
Go back and read Part 2: What’s the iPhone 3G Going to Look Like?
Go back and read Part 3: What Surprises Will Be in iPhone 2.0 Software & Services?
Continue reading Part 5: What Will the iPhone 3G’s Hardware Features Be?