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The software kit for developing iPhone applications won't be released in its final form until June, but a handful of developers gave iPhone users an early taste of what to expect from native applications during Apple's iPhone-focused Thursday briefing.

After disclosing details of the much-anticipated iPhone Software Development Kit, Apple executives turned the stage over to several developers who had early access to the SDK to show just what could be done with native iPhone programs.

Of particular interest to iPhone users clamoring for an instant messaging client, a representative of AOL demonstrated its AIM instant messenger client on the iPhone.

The AOL demo showed a live buddy list and chats in a series of boxes with text and buddy icons. Users who have several chats going at once can simply swipe their finger across the screen to go to the next chat window.

A profile window allows users to set their chat status; they'll also be able to use iPhone photos to set a buddy icon.

"No question the powerful tools and APIs in the iPhone SDK made it easy to develop a feature-rich mobile application for the iPhone," said AOL executive vice president Kevin Conroy in a statement released by Apple. "That rapid development cycle for this application was very intuitive, and when you add the App Store, it's an unbeatable combination for development and distribution of mobile applications."

Game demos highlighted Apple's presentation. Electronic Arts demonstrated a game based on the upcoming Spore that took advantage of the phone's touchscreen, accelerometer, video and audio. The accelerometer is used to control movement in the game.

EA's Travis Boatman said it took two days to get the game up and running using Apple's iPhone SDK.

Sega also demonstrated a game—Super Monkey Ball—that took advantage of the iPhone's accelerometer to control the action.

Other demos included one Salesforce.com, which displayed a sales tool app, and Epocrates, which demonstrated an application that allows doctors to look up drug information.

The iPhone SDK will be part of the iPhone 2.0 software update slated for June. However, a beta release Thursday puts the SDK in the hands of "thousands of developers and hundreds of companies," according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

This article was updated at 11:50 a.m. PT to include new information throughout.

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