Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Apple refreshes laptop line - but where's the iPhone SDK

Faster laptops (including multi-touch on the big ones) from the fruity funsters; but third-party apps for the iPhone will have to wait..

Apple has refreshed its MacBook and MacBook Pro (consumer and "professional" laptops), with new machines that start (for the Macbook) at 2.1GHz up to 2.4GHz, with 120GB to 250GB drives and 1 up to 2GB RAM, starting at £699; with the MacBook Pro, it's 2.4GHz-2.6Gz, 200GB-300GB, and an NVidia 8600GT graphics card. The one bit of fun? The MacBook Pro comes with a multi-touch keypad a la MacBook Air or iPhone - read about it; see the movie.

Note you'll still pay £60 extra for the BlackBook's paint job. (Still, that's £30 less than when it was announced. Paint must have got cheaper. How does that work?)

And speaking of the iPhone... the much-promised SDK (that's software developers' kit to you, auntie) is looking overdue. Developers had hoped it would be announced at last year's Developers' Conference just ahead of the iPhone's release, which would allow them to write applications that would run natively on the handheld, rather than creating web pages for a browser, which any noodle can do. (Well, many noodles.) Instead, Steve Jobs offered them... web pages. He said this was so rogue applications didn't crash the phone network, which fails to explain how RIM's BlackBerry and Palm's Treo have failed to bring civilisation to its knees.

In October, Jobs said the SDK would arrive "before the end of February". (I'd love to point you to his exact words, but they were in Apple's "Hot News" section, and don't get stored. No matter - someone put it in an Apple user discussion, and he says

We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers.
It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task.

However even with the extra day, it looks like February may prove elusive - as Wired writer Arik Hessendahl noted.

Then again, "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds". Will a week here or there really hurt this project? If everyone's champing at the bit to write stuff, they've waited a year since the iPhone's announcement, eight months since its release, more than four months since the announcement they'd get their wish - will a few days make much difference? More important will be precisely how it works - whether code has to be signed (as it seems to be for third-party iPod games, where an official SDK is still not in the wild) or whether anyone can play.

That, more than the precise timing of Steve or Phil or Greg or whoever standing up there with their remote control and a projector, is what will really determine its eventual success.

[Source: http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/02/26/apple_refreshes_laptop_line_but_wheres_the_iphone_sdk.html]

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