An Open Letter to Steve about the iPhone SDK

Dear Steve,

Your recent announcement of an upcoming iPhone SDK, made under the radar via your Hot News page, was very welcomed by most iPhone users. We can’t wait to have native version of Skype and Instant Messaging clients on our phone, and not put there via Jailbreaking. This really should have been in software developers hands a year ago, but we’ll take it anyway, if a bit late.

But that’s not what I’m writing to you about today. I’m writing to complain that the most obvious omission in iPhone apps is the fact that we can’t put 3rd widgets on our iPhones. It’s obvious to the most causal user that you already have them running. You can’t tell me the weather “app”, the stock “app”, and probably others aren’t widgets, the same as in the Dashboard, running on the iPhone. When you announced the iPhone, you told us “you won’t need an SDK”. 37Signals proclaimed validation for their ethos, that web apps and AJAX’d apps were the future. And there’s obviously an audience out there for these things (see the Digg and Facebook iPhone versions). But what I imagined was alot closer to a Dashboard widget than a web page running in Safari.

In fact, there was never a question in my mind that we’d be able to develop iPhone “apps” that would run native, with a cool little icon on the home screen, in HTML and CSS and Javascript. I assumed there’s be special hooks we could put in the html that would activate special iPhone features, and there are (text fields called “phone” or “zip” bring up numeric entry screens), but those seemed half baked also. Why doesn’t a “file” field called “photos” allow us to choose photos stored on the iPhone for uploading (to say, flickr)? And why can’t we explicitly tell a text field to bring up the url, phone/number, or qwerty keyboards?

So, I beg of you Steve, make this happen. Let us put widgets on our iPhones. Let us have more control over what our html can do. Let us do what we all thought was going to be possible. You already have all of this functionality there, I’m not asking for anything new here, just flip the switch and make it happen.


BJ Clark
iPhone Addict and Web Developer


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