Apple Wednesday confirmed rumors that it will release a mobile software development kit (SDK) for developers in February so that third parties can create applications for the iPhone and the iPod touch.
"We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers' hands in February," according to a post attributed to Apple CEO Steve Jobs on the company's website.
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The news should placate irked mobile developers who have already been busy building applications for the iPhone without Apple's approval. Tech-savvy users have been able to customize their phones with new software, at least until Apple put the kibosh on this activity with an iPhone update in September that erased all unauthorized applications from the device. The company did, however, post a list of approved Web-based applications for the iPhone on its Web site last week to discourage users from hacking into the device to add new applications.
It will take Apple until February to come out with an SDK because the company is trying to create an open platform so developers can write applications accessing the most advanced iPhone features, as well as a secure environment that isn't prone to viruses, worms or other security threats, Jobs wrote.
"This is no easy task," he wrote. "Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones -- this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous."
Jobs noted that other handset providers, such as Nokia, are not allowing applications to be loaded onto some of their new phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced to a legitimate developer. "While this makes such a phone less than "totally open," we believe it is a step in the right direction," he wrote.