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Apple Drops Part of iPhone Developer NDA 175

Posted by timothy
from the squawky-wheel-gets-degreased dept.
ds writes "Apple, this morning, announced they are dropping the iPhone Developer NDA in respect to released software. Previously, iPhone developers were legally bound even after their software had been released." Another reader adds, "Early release software is still covered, but this should bring about increased developer interaction, as well as a slew of iPhone dev books." The complete message about the NDA change can be seen for now at Apple's iPhone Developer site, and is reproduced below.
"We have decided to drop the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for released iPhone software. We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don't steal our work. It has happened before. While we have filed for hundreds of patents on iPhone technology, the NDA added yet another level of protection. We put it in place as one more way to help protect the iPhone from being ripped off by others. However, the NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone's success, so we are dropping it for released software. Developers will receive a new agreement without an NDA covering released software within a week or so. Please note that unreleased software and features will remain under NDA until they are released. Thanks to everyone who provided us constructive feedback on this matter."
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Apple Drops Part of iPhone Developer NDA

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  • by Gewalt (1200451)

    Seriously, what took apple so long?

    • by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@@@pacbell...net> on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @01:54PM (#25221933) Homepage

      They were probably waiting for Android to be released.

    • Android (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @01:54PM (#25221937)

      They wanted to wait for the Android release so the API could not legally borrow too heavily from the iPhone API.

      At least, that seems like a reasonable guess...

      • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

        by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:01PM (#25222959) Journal

        They wanted to wait for the Android release so the API could not legally borrow too heavily from the iPhone API.

        I highly doubt it. Google has their own Mac developers and one of the first apps bundled on the iPhone was a YouTube video program. Google has had access to the iPhone API's long before most other developers. Google Mobile App was available on the App Store since July 3. Besides, IIRC, Android is based on Java whereas the iPhone OS X is based on Objective C. More likely, the fear of iPhone developers leaving for Android was an incentive. Hopefully they'll go ahead and drop the whole darned thing since any Tom, Dick or Harry can sign up for the ADC and download the dev tools.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ilgaz (86384)

          Spend months developing your application under strict NDA terms and get your application rejected because some idiot working at App Store thinks it has potential to be competitive?

          I don't feel pity for iPhone developers. It is same as customers. They accept such abuse while buying the device or firing up XCode new iPhone app project.

          Java is also object oriented and there is a very object oriented OS in hand which has more than 200 million users. Symbian that is. Symbian developers could release working iPho

        • I highly doubt it. Google has their own Mac developers and one of the first apps bundled on the iPhone was a YouTube video program. Google has had access to the iPhone API's long before most other developers.

          Well of course they had early access - all under an even tighter NDA. Google being able to see the API doesn't matter so much as Apple's ability to say in a lawsuit "there's no way Google could have seen this patented API technique outside of the context of an NDA because the API was not public at that

          • Just to support you - Google would have developed using 'clean' developers. That is, staff who had no knowledge of the iPhone SDK. That is perfectly legal and all above board, but if any hint arises that the staff were not 'clean' then Google can be sued for copyright violation.

            Companies do this stuff every now and then, and with a little care, there's no problem.

        • Plus, the api is all objective c ish. IF the goal of andriod is to get a ground swell of developers they wouldn't want to follow that kind of syntax and naming convention that most non apple developers (including those that are developing the hardware to run it) aren't familiar with.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        No it is not a reasonable guess.
        A) Android developers could have also been iPhone developers. Illegal

        B) It still wouldn't be legal to take Apples stuff without an NDA. You don't need an NDA to have Patent/Copyright/Trademark protection. In fact, the point of Patent/Copyright/Trademark is so you can have protection and release your stuff.

    • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @01:55PM (#25221947) Journal

      I suspect they were waiting for Android. Prior to its arrival, they were pretty much the only game in town, so there wasn't really anywhere for disgruntled developers to flee to.

      • Prior to [android], they were pretty much the only game in town, so there wasn't really anywhere for disgruntled developers to flee to.

        Damn, you mean I've been hallucinating that Palm, Microsoft, and Nokia have been shipping smartphone software since the '90s?

        While you're rewriting history, why don't you take care of that annoying hohocaust thing as well?

        • by 2nd Post! (213333)

          If what you imply is true, that MS, Palm, and Nokia are "competitors" to Apple, why are developers even bothering with the iPhone?

          Let me answer: The iPhone is more lucrative, is growing faster, and is more attractive to the consumer.

          If a developer could "simply" switch from the iPhone to a WinMo, Palm, or Symbian phone, then the iPhone wouldn't even need to exist in the first place.

          • If a developer could "simply" switch from the iPhone to a WinMo, Palm, or Symbian phone, then the iPhone wouldn't even need to exist in the first place.

            A developer can no more "simply" switch from the iPhone to Android than "simply" switch from the iPhone to any other programmable handset. Different languages, different APIs, different developer platforms.

            But setting that aside, the point is really... the iPhone is a competitor to existing smartphone platforms. The question a year ago was "should developers

            • by 2nd Post! (213333)

              If we want to be specific/pedantic, we're talking about consumer oriented smartphones, and for the majority no Palm or Windows device qualified.

              Nokia had a few, but they were expensive or largely unavailable (N95) until the iPhone was also available (in the US). If we are therefore talking about consumer smartphones and software, then NO, Palm, Nokia, and Microsoft have not been shipping software nor smartphones since the 90s. Consumer smartphones are a recent (in the last two or three years) thing.

              • by argent (18001)

                If we want to be specific/pedantic, we're talking about consumer oriented smartphones, and for the majority no Palm or Windows device qualified.

                I disagree emphatically. Unless you want to argue that Windows itself is not a "consumer oriented home computer" or something silly like that, both Palm and Windows handhelds are "consumer oriented smartphones".

                • by 2nd Post! (213333)

                  You're telling me that in 2006 and 2007 that the same people who would buy an iPod went out and bought WinMo and Treos?

                  http://www.phonemag.com/smartphone-sales-up-60-in-2007-iphone-captures-growing-market-share-02860.php [phonemag.com]

                  In 2007 when the iPhone was only available for half a year and only in the US, it was the number 2 handset!

                  • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                    by argent (18001)

                    You're telling me that in 2006 and 2007 that the same people who would buy an iPod went out and bought WinMo and Treos?

                    No, they probably bought RAZRs. And most of them are still buying something like RAZRs. The market for smartphones (even if we include the iPhone) is tiny.

                    In 2007 when the iPhone was only available for half a year and only in the US, it was the number 2 handset!

                    In 2000 when the iPaq was only available for half a year, it brought the Windows Mobile share of the PDA market from single digits

                    • by 2nd Post! (213333)

                      Now you understand. The only real competitors for the iPhone are Blackberry and Nokia, not Palm or WinMo. And it looks like Android will remove Palm and WinMo from the map entirely :)

                    • My point wasn't "Palm and Windows Mobile are the bomb", it's that "we've had smartphones for years, iPhone and Android aren't the market".

                      I mean, Jesus Bloody Christ On A Rusted Out Harley, I already mentioned Nokia and RIM, and the site I pointed you at (Handango) sells Nokia and RIM downloads. If you're gonna change what you're arguing about every damn message then argue with someone else.

        • Damn, you mean I've been hallucinating that Palm, Microsoft, and Nokia have been shipping smartphone software since the '90s?

          Like comparing Apples and Oranges.

          While you're rewriting history, why don't you take care of that annoying hohocaust thing as well?

          I don't need to. It was done before I was born, and taught to me in history class. Here's a hint: it didn't happen because the secret police intimidated everyone into following a bunch of crazies. It happened because the state of the world was su
    • They had to recover from the clubbing they got from developers.

    • Let's just check the facts:

      Número uno: The internet hated the NDA. Not only the goodwill and fanboyism that Apple gets for free was up for grabs; but also there was a real chance that Apple might become the new Microsoft in public opinion.

      Número dos: Google does not fight the internet, and brought out Android. Android is gonna get some traction, not least for being open-source, for coming up with cool apps that google awarded prizes for, and for securing your developer's rights to distribute.

      N

  • by Gewalt (1200451) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @01:53PM (#25221913)

    Developers will receive a new agreement without an NDA covering released software within a week or so. Please note that unreleased software and features will remain under NDA until they are released.

    If I read this right, does that mean developers still can't publicly bitch about their apps being rejected from the store?

    • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @01:58PM (#25221999)

      No. The NDA only covers Apple's stuff, it does not and cannot cover yours. (Developers couldn't talk about their stuff, but only because talking about their stuff implied talking about Apple's stuff.)

      When Apple says unreleased software they mean their unreleased software. You can talk about your unreleased software all you want, so long as this doesn't involve things like betas of new iPhone OSes.

      In other words, the policy is going to be the same as it is for Mac OS X, where prerelease versions are covered under non-disclosure but you can talk about publicly released versions all you want.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Now I'm really confused. So you're saying that developers can talk about their stuff because it's theirs, but they can't talk about their stuff because it implies talking about Apple's stuff?

        Me head hurt.

        • by Khakionion (544166) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:21PM (#25222341)

          Is that really so hard to understand?

          Any piece of code that elucidates Cocoa Touch/iPhone OS functionality couldn't be disclosed, because Cocoa Touch/iPhone OS was under the FNDA. It may be the developers' code, but it can speak volumes about the structure of the iPhone SDK.

          Now, the only code you can't distribute is code that uses new features in prerelease versions of the OS/SDK.

        • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:38PM (#25222565)

          Yes.

          You write code. You can talk about that code. But if that code is based on somebody else's code, and that somebody else has that code under NDA, and your code implies information about their code, then you have to keep it under wraps.

          More concretely, Apple's NDA cannot prevent you from discussing your own code. But if your code contains information about the iPhone code, you can't discuss that.

          Now that things are being lifted, you can discuss the iPhone code and therefore your own code which relies on it. The only remaining restriction is that you can't talk about iPhone code which isn't public yet, and by implication any of your own code which relies on the non-public changes.

          So this change covers only their prerelease software, and by extension any of your software which contains information about their prerelease software. But it doesn't, and can't, cover your own prerelease software by itself.

    • by gnasher719 (869701) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:04PM (#25222085)

      f I read this right, does that mean developers still can't publicly bitch about their apps being rejected from the store?

      You have been reading an announcement about a change in the NDA. Whatever is in that announcement has no legal value whatsoever. Trying to search for a deep meaning in each word of this announcement is completely pointless. If you have a changed NDA in your hands, then whatever that changed NDA says is the new rules.

      Also note that Apple _always_ puts all its own unreleased software under NDA. Therefore XCode 3.1 (which was and is needed for iPhone development) was under NDA until it was released a few weeks ago. So "unreleased software and features will remain under NDA until they are released" is exactly what Apple has always said for many years, iPhone or no iPhone.

    • If I read this right, does that mean developers still can't publicly bitch about their apps being rejected from the store?

      "released software" means APPLE released software. As in, you can talk about API versions that are out in public but not versions that are still developer preview only.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ClassMyAss (976281)

      If I read this right, does that mean developers still can't publicly bitch about their apps being rejected from the store?

      While the wording is a bit ambiguous, and I don't know what it means for bitching about rejections, I have a pretty good feeling that what they're talking about when they say "software" is really Apple software, i.e. the stuff that makes up the iPhone SDK, not the applications that you are developing. In other words, once this new agreement is in effect, we should be able to freely dis

    • by firewood (41230)

      If I read this right, does that mean developers still can't publicly bitch about their apps being rejected from the store?

      Note that this announcement is about the SDK agreement. It says nothing about the App store agreement, which might still cover communications from Apple about submitted apps.

  • Here's hoping we'll see a developer's app that runs entirely on an iPhone / iPod Touch.

    • How about open source? Can we build FOSS for the thing now?
      • You always could (Score:3, Informative)

        by SuperKendall (25149)

        How about open source? Can we build FOSS for the thing now?

        There are already a number of iPhone projects on Google Code that were there before. It was just a question before if you wanted to risk you developer status and App Store distribution ability to add to them... now that's lifted iPhone OSS should be more abundant.

      • by 2nd Post! (213333)

        Why can't you?

        1) Write app for iPhone
        2) Release source; mention availability of source in app
        3) Host source outside iPhone

        Just because the end user needs a $99 dev key to upload the app to their phone doesn't make the app non Open Source. Does the requirement that you own a several hundred dollar computer make RockBox any less open source? In this case the cost of the devkey can be considered the cost of the PC.

        What is going to happen in the future as more devices use open source but cannot themselves downl

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:07PM (#25222137)

    I've put my order in for a G1 and I'll be writing applications for that platform from now on. I spent far too long at the mercy of another iron fisted company [microsoft.com] to want to go back to that kind of situation.

  • Oh the benevolent and merciful Apple. Thank you for allowing me to speak and allowing me to gaze upon your products. You truly are awesome Apple.
    Apple is so great, and innovative, and fantastic. They make the best, most dependable enterprise products, and they treat their developers like gods. I wish Apple controlled the entire computer industry. It would be beautiful , intuitive, and in a word, "perfect."
  • by Toll_Free (1295136) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:36PM (#25222543)

    When are people going to start bitching about Apple providing an email application in their phone, and then locking others out (as was discussed here earlier).

    This is > Microsoft Antitrust (think internet exploder), ESPECIALLY with all the people screaming iphone iphone iphone (think, market penetration).

    Not intended as a troll, but I have to wonder, when Apple can INTENTIONALLY lock vendors out of providing applications for their phone (and Apple is the OS and hardware provider here, make no mistake about it, NOT AT&T), but Microsoft gets raked over the coals about bundling internet exploder?

    What the fuck? Seriously, what the FUCK?

    No IPhone or Apple fan (although I do have a Mac), just gotta wonder, WTF is Jobs thinking?

    --Toll_Free

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ProzacPatient (915544)
      Oh god, that is exactly what I was thinking!

      Apple always manages to piss me off because, in my opinion anyway, they are worse then Microsoft when it comes to this type of thing, furthermore I don't understand how Apple can make one mistake after another and still have an angelic godly image that would otherwise instantly give Microsoft an assload of bad P.R.

      I just don't understand people...
      • by geekoid (135745)

        What mistakes? This wasn't a mistake. It was a sound decision based on many factors. When those factors changed, Apple responded with what the market wanted. That's Good business.
        Apple knows full well you can't put the monkeys back into the barrel once it has been opened, so they go slow.
        We can complain that this isn't the best way for them to go forward, but that's a different topic.

        Also, Apple has a friendly nice guy image, MS has a corporate bully image.

        Deal with an Apple employee, and they are almost al

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jamboarder (620309)
      While I'm no fan of this lockout, this is not antitrust related since the iPhone platform does not constitute a monopoly in the same, or similar, way that the Windows platform was declared to be. Sure the iPhone platform is the only way to develop for the iPhone. But the iPhone (platform + device) has nowhere near the market share of phones that Windows PCs (platform + hardware) did.

      Apple's bundling is not nearly as prohibitive to competition as Microsoft's bundling was. You can develop apps for Symbian

    • by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:07PM (#25223053)

      This is > Microsoft Antitrust (think internet exploder)

      No it's not. Microsoft was ready to kill entire pc manufacturers over the IE/Netscape issue, and they more than had the power to do so.

      No independent developer -has- to release on the iPhone.

      Seriously, people HATE Apple for completely irrational reasons and back them up with poorly constructed arguments. At least the Microsoft hate has -legal backing- behind it.

      • Disclaimer, I have an iMac, a 20gb iPod (3rd gen), and now a Touch. I also am working with the SDK.

        Apple is just as bad if not worse, their entire cover is "lack of market share" but if your in their market share your just screwed. I don't care, I want an alternative to Mail. Sorry but there are lots of features it does not have on the Touch UNLESS I buy ME. Sorry, but locking out competing applications is anti-competitive. Especially when they offer features they don't and only don't offer because the

    • When are people going to start bitching about Apple providing an email application in their phone, and then locking others out (as was discussed here earlier).

      When Apple is a monopoly with 90% or more of any market?

      If I had to buy an iPhone or put up with not being able to call some people on the phone at all, then it might matter that the iPhone is a closed platform under the control of a single company. Actually, I have a better smartphone (since it's actually a smartphone, and can run any damn software w

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ilgaz (86384)

      I think Apple trusts to their fanatics and fans while doing such absurd things. Such people also has potential to lead them in wrong direction as we have seen in Amelio times.

      They made Microsoft Windows Mobile look as "freedom" and people started to defend Symbian on all platforms. Usually Symbian users will buy the device, enhance it to a point that nobody will understand how their phone can boot and bitch about it on Web.

      That is a real achievement.To repeat: Windows Mobile looks "open" with "freedom" comp

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "Microsoft gets raked over the coals about bundling internet exploder?"

      You really show a lack of understanding about that issue.
      Apple traditionally releases a small tightly controlled items, and then slowly expands it. It's about control of the product, being nimble to unexpected market changes. It works for them.

      Apple has always been tight lipped about everything, good and bad.
      The operate one of the, if not the, greenest computer production. They didn't tell everyone what they were doing, it's not there st

  • same ol, same ol (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ukab the Great (87152) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:39PM (#25222599)

    We mac developers were led to believe that by WWDC, we'd have an SDK with a lifted NDA. Nope. Didn't happen.

    We mac developers were led to believe that by July 11 when the iPhone 3G was released, we'd have an SDK with a lifted NDA. Nope. Didn't happen.

    Now they tell us that the NDA will be lifted at some point in the near future. What's changed?

    • by SaDan (81097) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:02PM (#25222971) Homepage

      Android.

      • Re:same ol, same ol (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ilgaz (86384) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @03:33PM (#25223455) Homepage

        Also Symbian fixing their only issue. The closed source kernel. It was taken way more seriously than some people in Cupertino expected. No industry fight happened too.

        Funny is the Android release and Symbian going open source is also happening thanks to iPhone. Nobody can say Apple doesn't change things. I could never imagine Nokia and their biggest rivals agreeing to make Symbian open source. Even Flash 3 lite release which is rumoured to be free download for end user is Adobe's iPhone and Silverlight reaction. They asked millions of dollars from manufacturers before.

        If Apple just allowed actual competition in iPhone itself without lame excuses like security and battery life?

      • by caseih (160668)

        Let me know when there's a nice ipod-like device with 8-16GB of flash, a nice touch screen (with or without keyboard), sans-phone that runs Android, for about $250. Then I'll get excited about Android. In the meantime my ipodtouch is everything I've ever wanted in a PDA, except that the open source ecosystem is very stunted, thanks to Apple's controlling view of things, and also the so-called shareware scene that has always pervaded Macdom. Paying a buck for some stupid little app doesn't sit well with m

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Let me know when there's a nice ipod-like device with 8-16GB of flash, a nice touch screen (with or without keyboard), sans-phone that runs Android, for about $250. Then I'll get excited about Android. In the meantime my ipodtouch is everything I've ever wanted in a PDA, except that the open source ecosystem is very stunted, thanks to Apple's controlling view of things, and also the so-called shareware scene that has always pervaded Macdom. Paying a buck for some stupid little app doesn't sit well with me,

          • by marsu_k (701360)

            In particular, I do recommend MxTube - download and watch YouTube videos (rather than stream the videos). I don't think there's any other mobile platform that has a YouTube app that downloads the videos for later replay (offline).

            Here's one [maemo.org] for the Nokia N8x0 tablets.

    • We were "lead to believe" by *who*?

      I have no memory of Apple saying that we would have an SDK with lifted NDA by WWDC or July 11th. Can you cite any example to the contrary?
    • by phamlen (304054)

      You still believe things you hear at WWDC? The WWDC is great primarily because it tells you what won't happen in the next year. It's kinda like when you add "in bed" after a fortune cookie fortune; except in this case, you add " ... NOT!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Saint Stephen (19450)

      The OP has too many TLAS in his SP. GP says WTF?

    • Who lead you to believe any of that, exactly?

  • Apple has made a vast success of evil! [today.com] The slickness of total control. Freedom from the burden of choice.

    Never mind. I'm sure there'll be an article on RoughlyDrafted [roughlydrafted.com] explaining precisely how this was all part of the plan and is absolutely the best possible move anyone could ever have made and we'd all have to be foolish not to have realised this was precisely how it was going to play out, and also Microsoft sucks. It'll probably have that really funny graphic of a Zune-headed Ballmer running screaming fr

    • by argent (18001)

      All corporations are evil... or at least certifiable sociopaths.

      You can only trust a corporation (any corporation) as far as the market will let them go.

      Apple is no exception.

      When Apple has 90% of the cellphone market, I'll worry about how evil the iPhone is.

  • Ars Technica: iPhone SDK [arstechnica.com]

    Anyone with other tipps?

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