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The iPhone is NOT a Platform (or: Apps the iPhone will Never Have)

Steve Jobs said they came up with a “really sweet” way to let people develop apps for the iPhone – it’s called a web browser. What an insult. “Just write an AJAX/Web 2.0 page!” That’s your only development option for the iPhone.

Let’s see someone write an app to enable syncing your mail, contacts, and calendar to an Exchange server as a web page.

Let’s see someone write a voice notes recorder as a web page.

Let’s see someone write an ebook reader as a web page.

Let’s see someone write a photo uploading app (like Shozu) as a web page.

Let’s see someone write a decent game as a web page (or even Sudoku or something). Without Flash, remember.

Let’s see someone write an app to play video formats that the iPhone doesn’t play natively (like DivX) as a web page.

There are tons more. These are just the ones from off the top of my head.

And everyone assumes that Safari on the iPhone will be able to everything that Safari on the desktop can do, and that’s just not true. No Java support. No Flash. Who knows what else is missing, but it’s NOT going to be the same as Safari on the desktop. So for the people that have already released “iPhone apps” on the web, don’t count on them necessarily working on the iPhone, just because they work in your desktop browser.

Oh, and here’s a request for people who DO write web apps for the iPhone – don’t be a jerk and implement user agent checking so your web page is ONLY accessible from an iPhone, cutting off users of other mobile browsers. You yell and scream when people do that with web pages that will only let themselves be viewed in IE. Don’t be that guy.

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6 thoughts on “The iPhone is NOT a Platform (or: Apps the iPhone will Never Have)

  1. As far as I am concerned, the fact that the iPhone is missing the ability to sync with Outlook/Exchange alone makes it a toy. It’s a cool iPod with phone functionality. No thank you. It’s looking like it’s going to be the HTC Advantage for me.

  2. James says:

    Let it go. The iPhone is just not for you, but that’s okay… there are plenty of other gadgets out there that will serve your needs better (plus all the obligatory iPhone clones from LG and Samsung that will come out and may have the features you want). It’s not a big deal.

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  4. You don’t believe that Apple will extend the DOM with iphone-specific objects and verbs, the way that Songbird does with their web player and Adobe does with ActionScript?

  5. We’ve already had so many requests flood in for the iPhone here at ShoZu and it’s hard to tell people we’ll never support such a popular device in its current form. But at the moment that’s all we can say! I understand Apple want to launch safely and the best way to do that is by being a closed platform. They’ll still sell thousands and thousands of these things to the mainstream market and I’m sure they’ll be happy about that. Our replication engine is very different to MMS and email and runs natively on client-server architecture in the background. There’s no way to do this in a web browser. We’re excited about the iPhone and really hope they decide to open it up to developers in future.

    Best,
    Mark (ShoZu)

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