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Apple on Thursday held a media event at its Cupertino headquarters where it previewed its iPhone 2.0 software, scheduled for release this June, and announced the immediate availability of a beta release of the software to selected developers and enterprise customers.
"Weâre excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community with potentially thousands of native applications for iPhone and iPod touch,â said Apple chief executive Steve Jobs. "iPhoneâs enterprise features combined with its revolutionary Multi-Touch user interface and advanced software architecture provide the best user experience and the most advanced software platform ever for a mobile device."
Developers gain access to same APIs as Apple
The iPhone SDK will provide developers with a rich set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and tools to create applications for both the iPhone and iPod touch. Starting today, anyone can download the beta iPhone SDK for free and run the iPhone Simulator on their Mac. Apple also introduced its new iPhone Developer Program, giving developers everything they need to create native applications, and the new App Store, which will allow those developers to wirelessly deliver their applications to iPhone and iPod touch users.
With the iPhone SDK, third party developers will be able to build native applications for the iPhone with the same set of rich APIs that Apple has been using to develop its own iPhone software, including programming interfaces for Core OS, Core Services, Media and Cocoa Touch technologies. Those APIs will allow developers to create applications that leverage the iPhoneâs Multi-Touch user interface, animation technology, large storage, built-in three-axis accelerometer and geographical location technology to deliver innovative mobile applications.
Apple licenses Exchange ActiveSync from Microsoft
Apple also announced that it has licensed Exchange ActiveSync from Microsoft and is building it right into the iPhone, so that the handset will connect out-of-the-box to Microsoft Exchange Servers 2003 and 2007 for secure over-the-air push email, contacts, calendars and global address lists.
Built-in Exchange ActiveSync support also enables security features such as remote wipe, password policies and auto-discovery. In addition, the iPhone 2.0 software supports Cisco IPsec VPN to ensure the highest level of IP-based encryption available for transmission of sensitive corporate data, as well as the ability to authenticate using digital certificates or password-based, multi-factor authentication. The addition of WPA2 Enterprise with 802.1x authentication enables enterprise customers to deploy iPhone and iPod touch with the latest standards for protection of Wi-Fi networks.
Furthermore, Apple said the iPhone 2.0 software will provide a configuration utility that allows IT administrators to easily and quickly set up many iPhones, including password policies, VPN setting, installing certificates, email server settings and more. Once the configuration is defined it can be easily and securely delivered via web link or email to the user. To install, all the user has to do is authenticate with a user ID or password, download the configuration and tap install. Once installed, the user will have access to all their corporate IT services.
The Apple "App Store"
The iPhone 2.0 software release will contain the App Store, a new application that lets users browse, search, purchase and wirelessly download third party applications directly onto their iPhone or iPod touch, and will enable developers to reach every iPhone and iPod touch user.
Developers will be able to set the price for their applications — or make their applications free — and retain 70 percent of all sales revenues. Users can download free applications at no charge to either the user or developer, or purchase priced applications with just one click. Enterprise customers will be able to create a secure, private page on the App Store accessible only by their employees. Apple will cover all credit card, web hosting, infrastructure and DRM costs associated with offering applications on the App Store. However, all third party iPhone and iPod touch applications must be approved by Apple and no Apps will be authorized for distribution outside the App Store.
The iPhone development envoirnment
In addition to the rich set of iPhone OS APIs, the iPhone SDK also provides advanced tools for creating native iPhone and iPod touch applications including: Xcode for source code editing, project management and graphical debugging; Interface Builder with drag and drop interface creation and live preview; Instruments to monitor and optimize iPhone application performance in real time; and the iPhone Simulator to run and debug applications.
During the beta iPhone SDK program, a limited number of developers will be accepted into Appleâs new iPhone Developer Program and offered the ability to get code onto iPhones for testing. The Standard Program costs $99 (US) per year and gives members an iPhone SDK and development tools; access to pre-release iPhone software; technical support; the ability to get code onto iPhones for testing; and distribution of applications via the new App Store. The Enterprise Program costs $299 (US) per year. All developers will also be issued a digital certificate that will be embedded into their applications, assuring that Apple can track all applications and prevent malicious software from infecting users' phones.
In addition to these new iPhone network and security features, the beta iPhone 2.0 software provides several new Mail features such as the ability to view PowerPoint attachments, in addition to Word and Excel, as well as the ability to mass delete and move email messages.
Pricing & Availability
Apple plans to release the final iPhone 2.0 software, including the iPhone SDK and new enterprise features, as a free software update for all iPhone customers by the end of June.
Third party applications created for the iPhone will also run on the iPod touch, and iPod touch users will be required to purchase a software update to run these applications.
The free beta iPhone SDK is available immediately worldwide and can be downloaded at here. The iPhone Developer Program will initially be available in the US 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.
Additional details and a full compilation of notes from today's presentation are available here.
More news from today's Apple event