Update: The directory is now live. CNET News.com's Tom Krazit wrote up a quick look at it. One funny thing to note is that accessing the directory from an iPhone renders like it does on your desktop browser instead of in a finger, and eye-friendly format. Also, using the much-touted double-tap feature to zoom into the lineup of apps doesn't even center the page correctly. Apparently Apple didn't deem it necessary to make their own iPhone-centric page easier to use. Hopefully the early adopter, tech savvy crowd can handle it. Original story follows.
iPhone users still relying on Safari for third-party applications instead of going the unlocked route may be getting a new directory of applications, straight from the source. AppleInsider and 9 to 5 Mac are reporting that Apple is set to launch its own directory of third-party Web applications that have been optimized for the iPhone, similar to the current directory the company has of Mac software, and Dashboard Widgets residing in Apple.com's download section. The news gets even jucier with a misplaced link from one of Apple's official RSS feeds, showing the new section getting its own Apple vanity URL of Apple.com/Webapps
(note: the link currently goes nowhere).
Apple Insider also claims that some developers have been contacted by Apple reps to submit all sorts of information about its applications, including screenshots, links, and descriptions. If the directory is anything like Apple's current iteration for software, there will likely be a way for people to submit their own right from the site, as well.
This isn't anywhere closer to the SDK everyone's hoping for, but an official directory would be a welcome addition to the slew of iPhone application directories that have sprung up since the introduction of the phone earlier this year, and open up a potentially larger audience for developers with cool applications. As an iPhone user, my only suggestion would be to take advantage of the capability to update the system software, and integrate the new directory as its own button on the home screen. Better yet, let people "copy" an application shortcut icon to their home screen to let them jump straight to the application like what's been done in the unlocked iPhone community.
No news on when the site is going live. In the meantime, if you're a new iPhone user looking for places to find some optimized Web applications, CNET's got its very own iPhone App directory. I'd also recommend iPhone Application List and EverythingiPhone.