As February goes on we get closer and closer to the promised iPhone SDK. Before that happens I want to get my predictions down, just in case I’m right 🙂 For a start I expect we’ll get the announcement very late in the month, probably the week of the 28th. When that announcement comes it will not be what I think most people are expecting, a single SDK, it will be two. A very free and open API for developing Widget-like apps, and a very tightly controlled API for truly native apps. I also expect the apps to be distributed through the iTunes store, in the same way the software update for the iPod Touch was last month.

The reason I think we’ll get widgets is that Steve Jobs referred to Weather and Stocks as widgets when describing the iPod Touch upgrade at MacWorld. That’s a word he also used when announcing the iPhone at first but then didn’t use for a year. I don’t think it was a coincidence that he slipped it into the keynote. The way those apps behave is also very like the way Dashboard widgets behave on OS X. We know that Dashboard is powered by the Safari engine under the hood, since the Safari engine is also on the iPhone I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect widgets.

As for the truly native apps, I expect developers will have to get their apps certified by Apple before they will go onto the store. Steve hinted at this at the All Things Digital conference last year and it makes sense. Apple has said time and time again that they have to balance consumer desires with security and stability concerns. That stance isn’t compatible with a totally free API but would be over-kill for a widget API.

If Apple only go with a very limited widget-like API then they will get slaughtered in the press and in the hearts and minds of many. If they only go with a system that requires certification they will lock all but large software firms out of the iPhone and bring down the ire of the community. The only way to win is to offer two APIs. My only fear is that Apple will choose only to offer one, which ever one they would choose they would be lambasted for it. The bad feelings in the community and the press would eclipse those after the price-drop, and I dred to think what another anti-announcement like the “AJAX is the SDK” rubbish we got last summer would do to Apple’s share price. Here’s hoping I’m right!

[tags]Apple, iPhone, iPod Touch, Widget, SDK[/tags]