Well known iOS hacker pod2g started a trend on twitter calling on Apple to open iOS and allow third-party applications and modifications without restriction. The attempt is a bold one, and undermines much of what Apple has stood behind since they entered the mobile platform arena. That said, however, not even Android is a fully open platform and such an initiative would make a big splash in mobile computing.
He points out that there are no technical issues preventing Apple from allowing developers to submit tweaks or themes — it would just need to enlarge its API/SDK. And it would be able to review them just like they do with App Store submissions before approving them for iOS…
The hacker’s words resonated enough to kickstart a Twitter petition (or a twitition) entitled “WeWantAnOpeniOS,” which creator FlawlessFox (of WWJC) says he will email to Apple once it’s collected enough signatures. And his hashtag by the same name became a trending topic at one point.
here were a couple possibilities of what this more ‘open’ iOS could mean, and users on Twitter could be confused as to what it stands for. The more dramatic possibilities, such as Apple releasing the source code to iOS (making the software ‘open source’) or allowing for developers to freely distribute programs outside the App Store (opening the distribution on the platform), are also the most blasphemous to Apple’s practice of control and vertical integration. The day a Twitter campaign wrests control of iOS from Apple will be the day I eat a genius shirt.
The more likely possibility was explained by Pod2g in a later tweet. “I never talked about “unsigned code” nor “open source”. They can allow tweaks by extending the SDK. #weWantAnOpenIOS”. The idea is Apple could create more tools for developers to make tweaks, similar to what we’ve seen on Cydia. While this might not sit neatly with Apple’s brand of simplicity–delivering uncomplicated products that ‘just work’, it might not be a proposal that would get someone laughed out of a conference with Tim Cook.
After all, there weren’t any third-party applications on iOS until the early jailbreakers wrote them–you might remember Apple suggesting everyone use clumsy web apps instead. Apple opened their API to allow for developers to submit sandboxed programs, so it’s possible that Apple could open their API again. I’m not exactly betting on this possibility, but smart jailbreakers notice that features developed by the community have a tendency to find their way onto mainstream iOS, in one way or another.
If you’re interested, feel free to sign the WeWantAnOpeniOS twitition. At the time of this writing, it had collected more than 2,200 signatures. And you can expect to hear more from us about this topic in the coming weeks.