Now less than 24 hours away, PHONE Magazine is getting ready for Apple’s iPhone SDK Roadmap event in sunny California which we’ll be live-blogging from 10am PST. Apple described the event as concerning the “iPhone software roadmap, including the iPhone SDK and some exciting new enterprise features”, and has sparked off the inevitable cavalcade of rumor and analyst prediction.
For instance, the SDK itself – a toolkit for developers to code applications natively supported by the iPhone (and the iPod Touch) and which would no longer require the handset to be unofficially Jailbroken – is suspected to be delayed; Steve Jobs originally promised its release by the end of February, and now the unconfirmed consensus seems to be that, while a beta will be made available at tomorrow’s event, the full software package won’t be delivered perhaps until WWDC in June.
Meanwhile, the functionality on offer in the SDK has cast doubts onto initial consideration of Jailbreaking as a temporary measure. Many believed the system of brute-unlocking handsets for third-party applications would only apply until Apple made such alterations official, but supposed leaks have suggested that the Cupertino-based company will maintain a far stronger grip on their platform than expected. While freeware is believed to be relatively free of Apple inspection, paid-for software will apparently require validation by the company and be distributed solely through iTunes; unsurprisingly, Apple will take a cut of each copy sold.
In addition, the extent to which third-party developers can access iPhone functionality is also in doubt; Apple is rumored to be preventing use of the dock connector and, perhaps, limiting interaction with other cellphone hardware such as networking and the camera. There is also uncertainty as to who exactly will be able to access the SDK at all; whether the package will be distributed free or paid for, and whether it will be limited to enterprise customers or released generally
Apple’s mention of enterprise has reignited a wish-list of business-related functionality, and at the top of the list is Microsoft Exchange compatibility. With the inevitable adoption by corporate users (and AT&T specifically launching a business tariff), the absence of push email and synchronised calendar, contacts and to-do information has been a well-trodden blemish on the iPhone’s spec-sheet. Analysts have strongly suggested that Exchange support is upcoming, with ATR’s Shaw Wu apparently having insider information regarding months of beta testing for the integration.
Although the scope of tomorrow’s event seems focused on software, that hasn’t prevented rumors regarding the 3G iPhone. FOXNews predicts a June launch, 12 months after the original cellphone launched in the US, and even suggests that software development has already begun to move away from the current iPhone:
“Speculation has been fuelled by the reports that Apple has begun to reduce its focus on the current iPhone platform — which runs on the slower 2.5G cellular high-speed network known as EDGE — in favor of developing software for the newer device” FOXNews
Perhaps half the fun of these events is predicting what will – and, tellingly, what won’t – be announced and discussed; however, we’d love for you to join us for the other half of the fun, as we live-blog the whole event direct from the Apple Town Hall in California, tomorrow morning, 10am PST.