WWDC - Apple's iPhone open to software developers

Software develops can write Web 2.0-based applications to run on Apple's forthcoming iPhone

Third-party software developers can create Web 2.0 applications to run on Apple's forthcoming iPhone, company CEO Steve Jobs said Monday.

Jobs told an enthusiastic audience at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference 2007 in San Francisco that developers could write applications that work and look like iPhone applications from Apple, including those for making calls, sending e-mail and other functions.

The iPhone, a combination of cell phone, Web browser and video and music player, goes on sale June 29.

Developers will be able to create applications for the iPhone by using Web 2.0 programming tools like Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) and taking advantage of the full version of Apple's Safari Web browser incorporated into the devices. A separate, special software developer kit is not needed, Jobs said.

The software development announcement was the last item in a 90-minute keynote address devoted mostly to the new OS X version 10.5 operating system, code-named Leopard and scheduled for release in October. Jobs highlighted 10 of what he said were 300 new features for Leopard, an upgrade from the present "Tiger" OS. Leopard will sell for US$129.

Also, Apple's updated Web browser, Safari 3.0, will be available to run on Windows Vista and Windows XP, Jobs said. Apple is releasing a public beta of Safari 3 for Mac OS X and Windows Monday, said Jobs.

Jobs said the company took a cue from its experience enabling the iTunes Web music and video store to run on Windows. Safari has only 5 percent of the market for Web browsers, compared to 78 percent for Windows and 15 percent for the Firefox browser. Jobs said running on Windows could increase Safari's market share.

Some in the audience of an estimated 5,000 literally "oohed" and "ahhed" as Jobs demonstrated new features of Leopard, including a feature called "Stacks." In order to reduce clutter on computer desktops, "Stacks" can hide application icons behind the main icons on the application dock at the bottom of the screen. Click on one of those icons, and others behind it shoot up towards the top of the screen in a stack.

Leopard will also run 32-bit and 64-bit applications side-by-side, Jobs said.

He also demonstrated a new Leopard feature called "Cover Flow" in which images of files flip quickly across the screen from side to side, allowing users to find the image they want, click on it and see that file open up full screen.

"This is an amazing way to find things and it's incredibly useful," Jobs said.

Apple said in April that it would delay Leopard's launch until October because it was devoting time and energy to bringing the iPhone to market.

Apple is gaining attention because of TV commercials featuring a character called "Mac" and another called "PC." In a video prior to Jobs' keynote, John Hodgman, the comedian who plays the dim-witted Windows PC user in the commercials, appeared onscreen wearing Jobs' trademark black turtleneck and blue jeans, trying to pass himself off as Jobs. "I'm quitting," he declared, saying that he was closing down Apple because the Windows Vista OS was just too popular.

"They have sold tens of ... dozens of copies," Hodgman said.

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Robert Mullins

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