Apple muscling out other iPhone GPS app developers

Apple muscling out other iPhone GPS app developers

Ben Wilson

The iPhone 3G's GPS capabilities are among the device's most hotly anticipated. Steve Jobs' brief demonstration of Google Maps' GPS-powered turn-by-turn directions and live tracking drew cheers from the WWDC keynote audience, and several developers have announced applications that take advantage of the new, more accurate location services. TomTom, a maker of global automotive GPS systems announced plans to port its GPS software product used in cars, phones and GPS receivers to the iPhone 3G. Restrictions presented in Apple's latest build of the iPhone SDK, however, may put the brakes on third-party applications that, like TomTom's, attempt to replicate the iPhone's built in route guidance functionality.

The new wording in Apple's SDK agreement reads: "Applications may not be designed or marketed for real time route guidance; automatic or autonomous control of vehicles, aircraft, or other mechanical devices; dispatch or fleet management; or emergency or life-saving purposes."

Such wording would seem to disallow software like TomTom's ported iPhone application and any other software that would be useful in providing direction.

Apple's restriction could be due to liability issues stemming from third-party applications, but could also be designed to prevent competitors from developing products that conflict with Apple?s own Google Maps applications or others that will be allowed by contract or prior agreement.

Previously revealed SDK restrictions could cause problems for other classes of applications. Emulators like StyleTap, which would recreate the Palm OS environment on the iPhone, are also technically barred.

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