iPhone SDK and Enterprise features announced

roadmapAt the long-awaited SDK roadmap announcement in Cupertino today Apple released details of the iPhone SDK and a number of new enterprise features. Key points in the announcement were:

  • Full push-sync to Microsoft Exchange of e-mail, calendar and contacts. Also supports global address list and admin features like remote wipe.
  • Enterprise improvements covering VPNs, certificates, authentication, WiFi authentication.
  • Full SDK and development suite with remote debugging tools and device simulator. Games, business applications and an IM client were demoed with presenters stressing the graphical power of the platform and speed / ease of development.
  • An application store icon will be added to phones to distribute applications (the only way, although they can be obtained albeit via both ‘over-the-air’ or iTunes sync). The store application will also notify user when applications they have installed are updated. Revenue split is 70/30 developer / Apple for commercial apps. Free apps are to be distributed for free once approved. Apple are also working on an enterprise tool for distributing firms’ internal applications.
  • Parental controls are to be added to allow blocking of features such as web browsing or the application store.

The SDK will be available to developers immediately for free ($99 entrance to the developers’ programme to publish applications to the store).  Version 2.0 firmware for iPhone and iPod Touch, including these new features and support for 3rd-party apps, will be released internationally in June as a free upgrade for iPhone customers (Touch will be a paid upgrade as before).

The VC firm KPCB have also announced a $100m ‘iFund’ to support development and establish a ‘few Amazons or Googles’.

See these live-blogs for the full announcement ‘as it happened’: Engadget, Macworld, Wired.

My initial thoughts:

  1. Exchange Activesync makes this an immediately viable business phone and use of this protcol offers the widest fit without excluding the smaller businesses who use Zimbra or Kerrio (which also both support this sync protocol).
  2. The VPN and WiFi authentication features are nice, but really only fixes to what was broken previously. At least Apple were listening to the vocal minority who needed these things. That bodes well for the future.
  3. The SDK appears capable and the applications demoed show a full range of capabilities. As a consumer there’s an exciting range of possibilities presented including some attractive games and IM (at last!). It’s probably worth reserving judgement on the developer’s side for the moment though regarding how far into the iPhone they can tap… there’s no detail yet on any capability to enhance or modify the UI or low-level functionality. Also, with no change to the Bluetooth stack use of peripherals with applications is likely to be limited to those that plug-in via the existing connector specification or utilise WiFi connections as now.

Roll on June!

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