iPhone OS 3.0 Beta Has a Catch

The latest development rules imposed by Apple put devs in a very delicate position

It is known for almost a month now that Apple is no longer accepting any iPhone / iPod touch applications that are not compatible with iPhone OS 3.0, while apps that are not compatible with OS 3.0 will need adjusting to continue to be supported by the company. However, developers seem to have an even bigger problem on their hands.

Tom Yager, assessing version 3.0 of the iPhone OS over at Computerworld, talks of a scenario many developers currently find themselves in.

“Most apps created with a 2.x SDK will just pass, but if you submit an app that doesn't pass, you're pretty much duty-bound to debug it on a device running iPhone 3.0 beta,” Yager writes.

“A firmware upgrade to the 3.0 beta can't be undone, so if you take the leap on your only dev phone, you lose the ability to validate apps against the iPhone 2.x platform,” he explains. “Some problems that prevent an app from running on 3.0 might be solved simply by rebuilding the app with the iPhone 3.0 SDK (and perhaps paying closer attention to compiler warnings), but the App Store won't let you post apps built with the new SDK yet because, ostensibly, iPhone 3.0 is not shipping software. It's a catch-22,” Yager concludes.

As noted above, earlier this month, developers found themselves in a very difficult position reading Apple's email stating that, “Beginning today, all submissions to the App Store will be reviewed on the latest beta of iPhone OS 3.0. If your app submission is not compatible with iPhone OS 3.0, it will not be approved.”

While iPhone OS 3.0 doesn't even have a release date, developers are forced into spending valuable time, energy and resources modifying applications against unstable software. Adding that Apple may or may not approve their app, while creating the program itself can potentially spell more costs than profits, the App Store hasn't really reinstated any “Gold Rush,” as some have suggested. Even with over a billion downloaded apps, Apple itself is said to have made very few profits off iPhone app sales thus far.

UPDATE: the article has been modified to remove an erroneous statement regarding Apple's $99-a-year iPhone Developer Program.

(thanks Val)

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