Wah! I can’t install an app on iPhone and why I don’t care


Despite some spew earlier in the week that Jobs lied about iPhone running OS X, the truth came through and we find it really is running it. One of the things we can do on OS X machines is install applications, which will not happen without Apple’s help on iPhone. I’m sure the developers of the world thought “Wow, this will be a blast to write an app for a phone running OS X” and then had their dreams shattered when told “Not going to happen”.

Get over it.

The iPhone does something that we seem to forget in the realm of application development. It can access the internet. There’s probably a good chance that if you want to write something for the iPhone, this is the venue to do it at. Who really cares in this case, besides the Cocoa and C hackers, that it doesn’t do installs of software. I’ve said it many times, the software paradigm shift is to the web. The internet is the application platform for the iPhone. While the java(script) and flash issue seems unanswered right now, there is no doubt in my mind that Apple questioned this on purpose to gauge reaction before releasing iPhone.

Frankly, I’m happy that Apple decided not to allow application installs. You can call me an RDF victim if you want, there are worse things, like believing Windows Mobile 5 is productive to use. I’ve been a Palm user for years, and the only reason I install anything on it is because the default stuff from them sucks. It’s still better than WM5. A mini-OS X doesn’t sound crippling at all, but I’m not going to jump just yet. We’ll see how and why Apple was ready to announce this six months in advance. It seems that this device is a huge part of the digital lifestlye Jobs spoke of early in his return to Apple.



well i was doing some research on iphone i found out they locked the phone for security, well thats a bad idea look at PSP flowing with homebrew and im 100% sure that iphone has an exploit its still an OS, well its a bad idea to lock down the iphone.

iphone + exploit + homebrew = virus/malwares/brickers(PSP term)


well yes iphones design is slick but what can u do more? call and send sms listen to mp3s browse the web? wheres the power on that? wheres the custom apps to die for? like porting quake and some other popular softwares out there, what will happend is this phone will be no fun even the design is good insted of buying this phone ill chose the old phones insted much cheaper and same fuctions ^_^ well i was expecting that this will be a REAL OSX, yea its real but how come u cannot install apps? so why tell the community thats its OSX if u cant use it as the real thing


In the iPhone’s case, it’s an iPod that can be a phone and that’s how it is being marketed. There are points backing up my argument when people stop thinking of it as a smart phone/pda and more like an iPod.

Fair enough, and I agree that Apple would love for people to see it as a consumer-level device, an iPod + a cell phone.

There are three big problems with that, though: 1) it’s 500-600 dollars, 2) their own keynote called out smartphones as their competitors — the Motorola Q instead of the RAZR, for instance, and 3) it’s presented as doing the things a smartphone does. By that I mean the main interface isn’t a music player that also makes phone calls, but a suite of components.

And yeah, it really is a big deal that we can’t install stuff on this device. For one thing, the current data rates away from a WiFi hot spot are anything but “high speed.” Plus, they’re expensive. Even if those two points weren’t enough to kill it, a web-based app (especially if Flash and Java aren’t supported, and most reports indicate they won’t be) isn’t going to be as good an experience. Otherwise, I could just say my RAZR phone can do anything I could possibly want using its web browser — obviously, it can’t. And on top of that, a web-based app can’t access data elsewhere on the phone — for instance, some kind of todo list app that incorporates your mail attachments and address book contacts.

I hope you’re right, and Apple does address third party support. From what I’ve seen, that’s the biggest early complaint against the iPhone so far. (Apart from Cingular exclusivity, which sounds like it’s an insoluble problem for now). I’m not optimistic about it, though. Every independent app means they lose a potential sale over the iTunes Store, and Apple doesn’t have a good track record of altruism.

Todd Baur

Hey Chuck those sentences are sarcasm, albeit very terse to the developers

My point is very simply that the Mac community is highly talented and creative. Is it that big of a deal that we can’t install stuff on this device when it has Wi Fi and high speed cellular data access? Why couldn’t we be creative with this, running an app within Safari and providing creative ways that the zoom functions perform?

I do believe that Apple will, by choice or not, have to address the third party developer issue. I have no contempt for them, it’s what makes this platform amazing. In the iPhone’s case, it’s an iPod that can be a phone and that’s how it is being marketed. There are points backing up my argument when people stop thinking of it as a smart phone/pda and more like an iPod.


To the author of the post: instead of saying “Wah!” and telling us to “get over it,” why don’t you tell us instead what kind of data plan you have with your cell carrier? I’m guessing you either got a sweet deal, or else this blogging gig is making you some insane cash. Otherwise you wouldn’t be recommending having to go to a web server (and over a slow connection, unless you happen to be near a WiFi hotspot) for even some of the simplest apps that won’t be included with version 1.0 of the iPhone. Like an OmniOutliner-style to-do list, for instance.

The most convincing argument to make the iPhone an open system is right there in the keynote, every time the phone gets turned on its side. It switches to CoverFlow, which wasn’t made by the geniuses at Apple but by a freeware developer who had access to an open development system. From the looks of things, the software included with the phone is nice. The software that could be developed by the thousands of developers out there who are excited about the phone, could be even better. The only reason not to let them do it: Apple and Cingular’s greed. Simple as that.


I think people have the reasoning wrong. Apple won’t allow uncertified apps on the iPhone because they don’t want anyone writing a VOIP app in case it messes with Apple’s deals with Cingular or whoever. The phone uses WiFi when available, if it would make voice calls that way then the phone companies would be looking at the end of their fake monopoly. Any ISP can steal their business.

Steve Simitzis

The iPhone will be an open platform for development, whether or not Apple is planning on it. I’m giving it three weeks after the release date until it’s opened up by someone clever with a lot of free time.


“If you want to develop for the iPhone, you are going to have to sign an agreement with Apple – which implies you’ll need to be a ‘big player’.”

Well, here’s my problem: Apple decides whether or not my “great idea” for a phone application is worthy. By the way, do you think Apple will ever say “No”? Remember, Apple doesn’t say “No.” They say nothing because even saying “No” might give some meaning to their future plans.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: I present my “great idea” to Apple in order to get software developer kits and such that I need to develop on for the iPhone.
Step 2: Nothing happens.
Step 3: The person I spoke with at Apple stops returning my calls.
Step 4: Six months pass.
Step 5: One year passes.
Step 6: Steve Jobs gets up on stage to announce an amazing new “iGreatIdea” app that Apple has developed.

Of course, there’s no way of knowing if Apple took my great idea or if they had already been developing my great idea.

Now tell me what business is actually going to take that chance?

Here’s the problem, as I see it: Apple is selling something which is not a “smart phone” at a “smart phone” price. Now, I think they iPhone is way cool. I think the interface is awesome. But it’s also too expensive for what it does. I’ll be able to spend the same money in six months and have a phone that does more. Or I can spend less money on a phone that does what Apple’s does.

Apple will sell a bunch of these initially, to the MacHeads that just gotta have it. But I think it will be a less popular device at $500. On the other hand, when Apple releases the iPod and especially the iPod nano with this interface, they are going to sell an absolute metric ton of these.


The issue with any Flash or AJAX based apps is going to be that they won’t utilise the gestural interface – unless Apple specifically adds JavaScript extensions to allow this – so we’ll be stuck with point, click and maybe drag-drop as interactions, rather than any of the coolness that ‘native’ apps will allow.

That and the fact that JavaScript is (currently) way slower than native or Flash apps – might change if they embed Adobe’s VM as Mozilla are.

What’s still unclear – to me – is whether third-party Widgets will be allowed – are widgets applications or not. And do any of the widgets shown support gestures?


Ye gods, people.

The iPod is a closed platform – no-one can develop applications for it.

Those games (Zuma, etc) just appeared due to alpha-particles hitting the disk platters at Apple at precisely the right random intervals.

If you want to develop for the iPhone, you are going to have to sign an agreement with Apple – which implies you’ll need to be a “big player”.

Thats compatible with Jobs not wanting to build all apps, and with the platform not being open to Joe Sixpack, C++ Wizard.

Todd Baur

MisterKen, John and Jason are speculating. They don’t work for Apple. They know just as much as we do, and if they know something more they would report it.



How many people out there use Safari all the time? I know of plenty who use FireFox and OmniWeb. Of course, if there’s a rendering or other issue with Safari, you’re SOL.

How about iChat? Sure, it may come along eventually. And I’m sure it will work with AIM and Jabber. But what about MSN or Yahoo? Nope, sorry. What if I want to use Adium or Fire? Nope. Sorry.

Will Apple improve it’s software offerings for iPhone? Sure they will. When? Who knows? How long did we wait for an FM Tuner for an iPod? How long have we been waiting for a spreadsheet with iWork? Am I going to have to wait 2 years for an iChat that supports MSN or Yahoo?

Some of it is the price. Yeah, I’ll put up with “limited expandability” on a $200 phone. But $500? If nothing else, all the other “smart phones” out there let me add third-party apps for my $500. Apple’s doesn’t? Then why do I want it?


“Merlin talks with MacWorld Magazine’s Jason Snell and DaringFireball.net’s John Gruber about the likely future of applications for the recently announced iPhone.”

Listen to it here:

It is just a matter of time before you will be able to install applications and modify it (within reason). The functionality of the iPod evolved over time, as will the iPhone.

As my Macworld buzz wore off, I think I’m going to wait until Version 2.0 before i get an iPhone. Too many ‘what ifs’ to put off buying a new phone for that long.



Wrong. He didn’t say it in the keynote, it was in a later interview, but he DID say that they would be releasing more apps for the iPhone, and “there is no reason why Apple has to write all of them”.

Not exactly clear, but unmistakable nevertheless.

He went on the say that it would be a structured development. (Probably to prevent third party apps from allowing DRM workarounds.)

Josh Pigford

@Michael: You’re being a little overconfident there Michael. Jobs most certainly did NOT say “very very clearly” that the iPhone will be open to development. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

I do agree that it will eventually, in some form, allow additional apps to be installed…but your statement is a bit sensationalist and implies that Jobs said it’s a wide open development situation, when that’s just plain false.


“To me the decision to not open the iPhone up to 3rd party development is as simple as this: DRM.”

For the love of God, how many times does this have to be said?!?!? The iPhone WILL BE OPEN TO 3RD PARTY DEVELOPEMENT. Jobs very , very clearly said that they don’t have to write every App for the iPhone.

I think we will eventually see programs like Yojimbo, Daylite, and others working seamlessly with the iPhone.

Jay Tyler

Steve Jobs stated in his keynote why it was announced in advance. FCC approval takes a few months and must be public. He said that he wanted to introduce the phone, not let the FCC do it for him.


I could not agree less with this post. I don’t know about anyone else, but if there is no chance that i can get a version of yojimbo for the iPhone than I will not get an iPhone. That program is what keeps me using osx.

I also agree with #6 here, the reason I love the mac is the plethora of great shareware developers. It’s the only reason I’m not running ubuntu right now.

To me the decision to not open the iPhone up to 3rd party development is as simple as this: DRM.

Josh Pigford

Wow… they removed / censored the original first post. Guess that means this one will be gone soon too. Don’t post any opinions that disagree with the original post here folks.

No, we removed it because it had absolutely nothing to do with this topic and was just flaming. It’s called moderation…not censorship.

No Koolaid

Wow… they removed / censored the original first post. Guess that means this one will be gone soon too. Don’t post any opinions that disagree with the original post here folks.

No Koolaid

#1 – Agreed.

If the internet is the application platform for the future, let’s all just run Linux and junk our Macs… the reason the Mac experience is better is because of the apps.

Peter Jones

Sure, web-based applications are nice, and are much better now that we have rich interfaces and user-transparent interactions with the web server. That said, they are just one tool in a developer’s toolbox, and it’s important to use the right tool for the job.

Writing web-based applications targeted at the iPhone is a joke. You’d only be able to use about 10% of the power of the user interface on this device. I can already think of a hand-full of applications that could interact with the specific features of this device, like the digital camera, microphone, etc.

I do believe Mr. Jobs when he says they don’t want users installing applications because it has the possibility to disrupt core features like making phone calls. But there are plenty more reasons he didn’t mention.

Let’s not forget this thing is also an iPod. If developers had full access to this device, it would only take a matter of days before you’d see music streaming and sharing applications out in the wild. The real reason we won’t see a public SDK is FairPlay.


I’ve actually read on the Adobe forums that the iPhone will NOT support Flash, in an effort to keep the device locked down. It really is a pity, since Adobe has been dying to lure developers to mobile development and what could be the coolest, most widely used phone will be inaccessible.


I agree 100% that “cloud applications” are the direction to go. I run many open source versions of various web-apps on my home server so I can access them remotely (gregarius for RSS, Torrentflux for BitTorrent, etc.)

The only add-on app that I see as essential for this would be a password safe. If they can implement that as a widget, then I’m sold. I want something like that to be on my person and not on the Intertubes.

Hope you’re listening, Apple. ;)


JavaScript and Flash games? LOL!!!
Internet office? With our (Russian) cost of gprs (edge)? No, thanks :)
There are a million reasons for iPhone development.
Also Jobs said that Apple will develop additional applications for the iPhone. And some 3rd party companies too.

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