Apple Drops iPhone SDK NDA

Fantastic news:

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.

Reason, of course, why this is great is that this allows developers to talk to other developers about their apps and issues they might have come against. Having the NDA was a bit like Grain Corp. selling a grain but not allowing farmers to talk to each other how to best grow that grain.The Pragmatic Programmers has already reversed their decision to pull the production of an iPhone app development book. So it’s pretty good news.

What surprises me though is the way Apple has worded the announcement. They are apologetic not that it’s taken so long to reverse the decision but that they had it in place in the first place. That strikes me as being slightly odd. They could have easily just said this was their plan along and that the SDK is in a good enough state that it can be talked about.

On the other hand, maybe they’re apologising for this to make it easier to ignore people complaining about those few apps that haven’t been allowed into the App Store. Remember “…dropping it for released software…” means that you still can’t talk about it if your app is stopped at the gates of Apple*.

Nevertheless, I’m sure 99% of iPhone devs are happy to hear these news.

kristian

*Most famous case of an app being rejected entry to the App Store was ‘Podcaster’, an app that would allow you to subscribe to and listen to podcasts on your iPhone. What made it unique over iTunes/iPod combo on the iPhone was that it allowed you to download them directly on it without tethering to a computer. Pretty cool feature if you listen to a lot of podcasts like myself. Reason Apple gave for the rejection was that it ‘duplicated functionality of iTunes’. Fair enough reason as that’s warned about in the SDK. But doesn’t that mean that Apple is worried that someone might do things better than they do? Isn’t it just slightly anti-competitive?

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