Apple on Thursday unveiled the tools and technologies that will allow independent software developers to create and sell programs for the iPhone and iPod touch. In an event at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, Apple executives unveiled a revised set of iPhone developer tools, based on the company's existing tools for developing Mac software.
“We’re excited about creating a vibrant third-party developer community with potentially thousands of native applications for iPhone and iPod touch,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Applications for the iPhone will be built on a Mac using a new version of Xcode, available in a beta version today as a part of Apple's new iPhone Developer Program. A new version of Interface Builder will allow developers to quickly design their iPhone software's interface and localize the software for different languages. Other tools monitor memory usage and other aspects of the iPhone's internals in an attempt to aid developers in improving the speed of their programs.
Although developers will be able to compile their programs and execute them immediately on a real iPhone, Apple also showed off a software-based iPhone Simulator. This program runs on a Mac, and simulates the entire API stack of the iPhone OS.
Scott Forstall, Apple’s vice president of iPhone Software, explained that Apple had to build a new version of its development framework, Cocoa, for the iPhone. Dubbed Cocoa Touch, the new development tools are based on the touch interaction with the iPhone instead of the keyboard and mouse interaction users have with a desktop computer.
Forstall said the iPhone is made up of several Core technologies. Much of what you find in the iPhone operating system is the same as what you would find in the Mach: the foundation layers of the Core OS, Core Services, and Media, made the move more or less directly from OS X. Layered on top is the new Cocoa Touch API, rather than the Mac's Cocoa API.
Among the tools available to developers will be SQlite, a built-in database system, and Core Location, which uses cell tower and wi-fi base station data to determine your phone's geographic location.
“So we have a fantastic set of tools, in addition to the amazing set of frameworks that make up the iPhone OS,” said Forstall.
Apple also took some time to show off some of the newest Web apps that run in Safari. Forstall highlighted sites like Facebook and Bank of America during his talk.
The free beta iPhone SDK is available immediately and can be downloaded from Apple’s Web site. The $99 iPhone Developer Program, also introduced today, will initially be available in the U.S. and will expand to other countries in the coming months. Apple is accepting applications beginning today from enterprise customers who would like to join the private iPhone Enterprise Beta Program.
[11:42 a.m. PT 3/6: Added information on the developer programs. 1:45 p.m. PT: Updated and added throughout.]