Angry Robot

Wep Apps on the iPhone


The issue of whether third-party developers would be allowed to write apps for the iPhone is a heated one. Steve Jobs threw some wood on the fire by announcing to Mac developers today: sure you can! Make web apps with AJAX!

Frankly, I consider that a better answer than many do, since I’ve been of late pleasantly surprised by Google’s excellent posse of apps. And hey, there are some nifty widgets out there, and those are just li’l web apps too (sorta). And we assume there is some work being done on getting web apps to work offline. Which is one of their huge disadvantages, and if it’s solved in some meaningful way, one would have even less reason to hate Jobs’ latest statement.

But isn’t it a bit odd for a maker of platforms (PC, iPhone, iPod) to argue in favour of web apps? Aren’t web apps the things that make platforms increasingly irrelevant? If you made an awesome web app for the iPhone, people could conceivably use it on their PCs or Windows Mobile phones. Wouldn’t Steve be better off advocating iPhone-only apps?

Yes he would, and he will. This is only a stopgap. But its presentation leaves something to be desired. Presumably the motivation for the AJAX announcement is to give developers something to work with now – having heard them clamouring to develop for the iPhone, he threw them a bone (kinda). But the way he announced it, without stating that a proper SDK is on the way, makes it sound like he lamed out on them.