Daily Debrief: Apple agrees to iPhone software swapping
>> Welcome to the Daily Debrief. I'm CNET's Kara Suboy, here with CNET News writer Tom Krazit to discuss the latest Apple news. And Tom, news today that Apple has dropped it's non-disclosure agreement for iPhone developers. Why don't you just start and explain exactly what this meant in the first place.
>> Sure. Well, once the formal process of iPhone application development got rolling in June, or thereabouts, one of the more controversial aspects of the program was this non-disclosure agreement that Apple put in place, covering just about everything related to the program. This includes even software that people had developed, and released out there to the world through the app store.
>> They could not talk with their fellow developers about how they made that application. I mean as you may or may not know, software development's kind of complicated. You know, it's a rather you know, in-depth process, and especially on a brand new platform -
>> - like the iPhone. You know, you develop techniques and tricks and tips over years of development for other platforms. But the iPhone you know, the development is brand new. So it was even more crucial for developers, they thought, to share techniques with each other.
>> Just to sort of compare notes, and just to be like well hey you know, I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out how to make the touch screen thing pop up this window when I want it to, how do I do that. And you know, there's a ton of mailing lists out there -
>> - where developers can say yeah you know, ask a question like that, and get five or six responses, and you know, pick the one that works best for them.
>> So why all the secrecy from Apple?
>> Well, I think Apple was worried a little bit at first you know, that revealing the internals of how the iPhone works, and letting developers talk about you know, how best to exploit the iPhone would allow competitors to rip it off. And you know, like there's maybe a little bit of justification there -
>> - in that the iPhone is new, and there's not a lot of things like it out there. But you know, it was really a big headache for developers, because they were so excited about you know, making software for this product. And you know, with something as new as the iPhone, it's just they need to be able to martial all of their collective resources in order to figure out how to best do this. It's really, it's best for everybody.
>> It's best for Apple because they get good applications which encourage people to buy iPhones, it's good for the developers because their applications are better and they can make money off of that. And it's good for the people using the iPhone because you know, you'll know your applications were developed a little bit more intuitively, or a little bit you know, with a little higher quality.
>> Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
>> So it never really made much sense to begin with. And I think you know, we're starting to see you know, over the last week that Apple is starting to respond to a lot of these developer concerns that have been bubbling up over the three months that the program has been in place, you know, a couple of tweaks with the app store, and the way applications were reviewed. And then this is the most, you know, the furthest step they've taken to placate developers.
>> So October first, today they finally formally announced that the agreement, it's null. Like you can openly talk now.
>> For released software.
>> Which basically means that like if you were the guy who developed the last FM iPhone application for example -
>> - that you can explain to other people who may be looking to do some sort of streaming you know, audio type of application just how you did that.
>> You can have a mailing list where developers can you know, exchange information, you know, how do I make the little window pop up when I need it to.
>> I mean it's the kind of thing that gets developers more energized about developing for the phone, and I think it'll be received very favorably by the developers.
>> And some news earlier this week is that there could be a new version of the software 2.2 coming out, which will let the app store be a little more searchable, right?
>> Yeah. There's a couple of changes that were also being made in response to developer feedback. I mean you know, anyone who's used an iPhone knows that you know, the fields aren't always big enough for those of us with larger hands than others, so -
>> Big fingertips.
>> So they've made the fields a little bit wider -
>> - in searching on the categories in the app store. And they've also done some things with reviews to the current version of the app store, making only people who have purchased an application the ones who can review it. You can't just wander in there and review an application.
>> And that clearly makes some sense, doesn't it.
>> Yeah. Well it's good to see Apple responding to complaints, needs, problems. You know, that's definitely a big step forward for them.
>> They have one more big step to go however.
>> The biggest source of frustration by far with the developer, within the development community is Apple's inability to describe what is allows on the app store. You know, they've issued these rejection notices to certain developers, claiming that their application you know, is pointless, or doesn't bring any value, or that it duplicates the functionality of certain things that Apple does. But they haven't set out guidelines ahead of time -
>> - for what those things are. They only tell you after you've developed the application. Which is you know, I mean if you've put all that time and effort into it -
>> - only to get rejected at the end, I mean that's you know, another source of great frustration. So that's the last remaining major issue with iPhone development at the moment. And we'll see if you know, Apple is sort of just getting around to figuring out these things, and you know, whether or not they've got a way to address that coming forward in the next couple of weeks.
>> Right. Great, thank you.
>> You're welcome.
>> CNET News writer Tom Krazit, and I'm Kara Suboy. We'll see you on the next Daily Debrief.