Apple's iPhone SDK may be delayed, blogger claims

The Apple iPhone software development kit may not be ready by the end of the month

If you're holding your breath for the Apple iPhone software development kit, and your authorized attempt to build native applications for the wildly popular handheld, you may have to hold it a bit longer.

A brief post by BusinessWeek blogger Arik Hesseldahl, citing a single, unnamed source, reports that Apple may miss its original target date for the SDK, the end of February, by one to three weeks. The slight delay is unlikely to be anything but a minor embarrassment for Apple, assuming that it can deliver a workable SDK relatively soon. Hesseldahl wrote that Apple had no comment.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced last October that the company decided to release a toolset that would let software developers build their own applications for the iPhone. That was a turnaround for the company: When the iPhone was released in the US early last summer exclusively on AT&T's cellular network, Apple only provided hooks to let developers access basic iPhone functions (such as sending an e-mail) through the onboard Safari Web browser. The company touted the Web-based approach as safe and easy to use.

Early users exploited those hooks to the max.

But for many, the iPhone won't live up to its full potential, especially for business users, until applications can run natively on the device itself, directly interacting with the operating system.

The iPhone was hacked almost as soon it was released, to shift it to other cellular networks, and to let hackers run their own applications. Apple countered with operating system upgrades that wrecked the applications, prompting new hacking attempts.

It's still unclear what kind of applications the authorized SDK will allow. Jobs' original October blog post that announced the SDK had almost no details. He wrote that Apple was trying to balance two potentially conflicting goals: making it easy for iPhone developers to build and distribute applications, and making it difficult for those applications to break the iPhone or introduce malware.

Long-time Mac developer Christopher Allen, founder and facilitator of the iPhoneWebDev.com site, speculated then that rather than true native applications, what Apple may have in mind is something closer to the widgets in Mac OS X and the upcoming Leopard operating system. "It can look beautiful, have a great [user interface], but [mostly] it is JavaScript and XML, and some native function calls and snippets of highly efficient C code," Allen said.

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John Cox

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