iPhone SDK

The iPhone SDK launch event yesterday was so low-key, I didn’t even know about it till this morning [here in Asia]. So I hurried down to the Appple page to watch the presentation and the stuff that I saw has got me thinking all about the iPhone hardware.
The iPhone SDK now allows developers to build native applications for the platform; no longer do they have to, you know, make do with scriptalicious libraries.

But from my understanding, the iPhone is built in such a way that it’s running all applications, once open, all at once. That’s the only way it would be that seamless so as to jump from video player to audio player to phone and back with nifty Core Animation to boot. And since it was running in-house applications, most of them relying on libraries from the OS framework itself, this wouldn’t seem like a big load. Luckily for Web Apps, they all ran under the Safari engine, so it was basically like having multiple instances of one application. Written optimised, the code shouldn’t have too many memory leaks.

But with native apps, I don’t understand how the phone will correctly decide when to quit an application and when to leave it running in the background. With the promise of thousands of apps going to be available for download, wow, that’s a lot of potential apps installed on the average iPhone.

Arguably, the only reason the SDK release took much longer than usual was Jobs’ characteristic fascist view on having ultimate control on how the device is used. Which is why it’s not surprising at all that Apple has decided to make the App Store the default exclusive way to distribute Apps. All the while markerting Apple products as n00b and family-friendly, the iPhone couldn’t be allowed to house unsigned undesirable apps, like Jobs mentioned, porn and some such.It’s a smart idea to have an App Store, but somehow I think we haven’t seen the last of the Jailbreak community. With the SDK, they just the application building part a lot easier, but they’re still going to want to have the freedom to choose how they get and what apps they run on their iPhone. Fair enough.

In all fairness, it’s admirable that Apple has taken a neutral stand to “rogue” developers, that while Jailbreak is not exactly approved by the company, no legal action will be taken against people who venture forth to use it. However Apple offers no promises whatsoever that any software updates they distribute for the iPhone won’t break the Jailbreak code.

Anyway here’s a quick breakdown of the iPhone hardware. The processor is a decent 600+MHz ARM chip, made by Samsung. By comparison, most PocketPCs use chips with speeds in the 400Mhz range. So the chip is definitely made to multitask but just how much? Time will tell.

But seriously, other than the games, the epocrates app was really good too! You know what they could have? A molecule builder, or a circuit analyser app. That’d be the end of hard tutorials. Hehe.


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