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Daily Debrief: Behind the Apple-Google API dustupGoogle acknowledged breaking the official rules of Apple's iPhone software development kit when it created the latest version of the Google Mobile application for the iPhone. What are the implications for developers and for users? Join Charles Cooper...
[ Music ] ^M00:00:04 >> Charlie: Google had fessed up to breaking the rules governing Apple's iPhone software development kit and we've got a curfuffle in the world of software, welcome to the CNET News Daily Debrief I'm here with CNET News' Tom Krazit. Curfuffle, I love that word. >> Tom: It's a big word. >> Charlie: It's a big one I looked it up just before. So, what's going on and why is it important? >> Tom: Well, Google Mobile was just released with -- a new version of Google Mobile was just released and it brought this cool feature along which lets you search using your voice, you bring the iPhone up to your head and you can -- a little beep will go off and you search -- you say like I want, ya know, sushi restaurants in San Francisco and it'll bring up a list on your iPhone. So it turns out though in order to get the iPhone to make that little noise when it comes up to your ear Google had to use an undocumented API to make the proximity sensor in the iPhone turn on. An API, think of an API like a little piece of helper code inside the operating system that the application uses in order to do something. If you want to perform a specific task or, ya know, take advantage of the motion sensor there's a little piece of code that teaches you how to get your application to talk to the iPhone. >> Charlie: And why is that a no no from Apple's point of view? >> Tom: So, Apple, when it created the software development kit back in March, only specified certain public API's that developers could use to talk to the iPhone 'cause certain things it wants to keep off limits for security reasons or reliability reasons or just because it, ya know, it doesn't -- >> Charlie: General look and feel issues. >> Tom: Yeah, ya know, it -- >> Charlie: Aesthetics >> Tom: And this is a pretty common thing in the world of software development that there are public ones and not public ones and so the risk for the developer is that if you use an undocumented API your application could break farther down the road. Like if Apple comes out with iPhone OS3.0 the Google Mobile thing may not work because it's not a feature that Apple has said explicitly that they're gonna support going forward. >> Charlie: And Apple's not saying anything about this, had Google been in contact with Apple prior to writing up this code? >> Tom: It's not clear; I mean this is sort of another example of just how much of a black box the App Store application approval process seems to be. I mean these things go into Apple, lay around for a week or two and then either come back with a, ya know, a yeah or a nay on them and no one seems to really be getting a true comprehensive answer as to why or why not these things are rejected. I mean, I think it's important to point out that there are a lot of applications in the App Store that do use undocumented API's, it's against the rules but, ya know, you're not gonna go to jail or anything like that, it's a, ya know, it's an offense and it's technically against the rules but it's not, ya know, the worst thing you can do in the world. >> Charlie: Fair enough, Apple is a stickler for look and feel for the rules that it sets. You've suggested it in one of your pieces writing about this story that they may be stretched to the limit as far as governing the whole process, can you talk a little bit about that? >> Tom: Well, ya know, I mean I think the comments that Jobs and other Apple executives made on our last earning call are very telling and they've said we've never seen anything like this before in our careers and they were referring to the response to the App Store. Just a number of people and the number of applications in total that had been written for the iPhone and that are continuing to be written for the iPhone. >> Charlie: Yeah, it's been a phenomenon -- >> Tom: It really has, ya know, people have really responded and shown a huge interest in developing software for the iPhone. But Apple says that it has to approve every application that will go onto the iPhone and that it is the only place that you can submit your application for inclusion onto the iPhone. >> Charlie: Any indication they might modify or bend that rule going forward? >> Tom: Well, this is going to be the interesting thing about -- this is why this story is interesting 'cause Apple has a couple of ways it can go here and, ya know, it's gonna -- there's gonna be interesting outcomes either way. If they ban Google Mobile or force Google to change the code then they're sort of saying that they have to go out there and find all the other applications that are using undocumented API's and either ban those or force people to change their code. And there could, and this could be 100's or, ya know, I mean easily could be 100's of applications out there. If they allow Google Mobile to stay as is using the undocumented API. >> Charlie: Then they're playing favorites. >> Tom: Well, or they have to now let everybody use undocumented API's and they have to go back and look at applications that may have been rejected for using undocumented API's and have those resubmitted. So it's gonna be interesting to see how they handle this and I think they're trying to figure that out right now, ya know, I'm not sure how soon we'll see a decision on this but, ya know, it's pretty clear that, ya know, Apple's got quite a problem on its hands with the App Store in just the number of applications flooding in. >> Charlie: Interesting story, Thanksgiving around the bend, happy Thanksgiving. >> Tom: Happy turkey day. >> Charlie: And to you too, for CNET News I'm Charlie Cooper. ^E00:05:14