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It’s a good day to be a chatty iPhone developer: today, Apple lifted the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that prevented developers from speaking about their work.
Previously, iPhone developers could only speak about Apple’s software development kit (SDK) with members of their own team; the ones who worked solo only had Apple to use as a sounding board.
Now developers can talk to each other. More importantly they can share information.
According to Raven Zachary, an analyst with the 451 Group, freedom from Apple’s gag order “allows [developers] to work with their peer group to disseminate info, to have their questions answered and their problems solved. It allows for a free flow of information among developers.”
“I’m extremely glad they’ve opened it up,” said Jonathan Wight, owner of Toxic Software and a software consultant for the iPhone. “It was a major handicap for iPhone development.”
But if it was such a handicap, why was the NDA imposed in the first place?
According to an Apple statement, “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.”
Zachary said, “What we’ve seen from Apple today is a compromise in meeting the need of this growing development community and also trying to protect intellectual property.”
Best of all, even though the iPhone’s platform is still closed, Wight says the lack of an NDA will ultimately benefit the open source community: “Before it was difficult to open source software for the iPhone. Now we can take our source and make it available for other people to use.”
Wight believes that the removal of the NDA won’t just benefit developers: “You’re going to see a higher quality of applications.”
Not only that, we should expect to see more of them. The ability for developers to help each other will make programming both easier and quicker. And developers who ran into programming snags and abandoned their projects may now get the help they need to complete them.
So even though today is a good day to be an iPhone application developer, soon it’ll be a good day to be an iPhone application user.