You may or may not remember an event earlier this year which saw Pod2g take to Twitter and appeal for an Open iOS using the hashtag #WeWantAnOpeniOS. The campaign was met with incredible support making it trend on Twitter. Not only this, an accompanying Open iOS petition was created of which over 11,000 people signed. It appears that Tim Cook was paying attention and says that an Open iOS is something that’s in the works.
Don’t confuse an Open iOS with something similar to Android which is open source – that would allow custom operating systems to be installed on the iPhone and iPad, which is something Apple don’t want. What Tim Cook is referring to is allowing developers 3rd party access to some of the system elements of iOS, such as the notification centre, allowing 3rd parties to create widgets without the need for a Jailbreak.
The Open iOS debate came up at the D11 conference where Cook told Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher that Apple plans to open up access to iOS system-level API’s to developers.
Here’s how the interview went down (via The Verge):
Walt: Let’s talk about control. There’s a lot of talk about open versus closed. Facebook did Facebook Home, which hasn’t done very well. Eric Schmidt said it’s great, it’s fine. I understand that they came and talked to you about it, and Apple wouldn’t let anyone take over the lock screen. Your keyboard and your recognition, predictive typing and all that stuff, hasn’t kept pace with Android. They allow other people to make that technology, third parties can give you a choice. Have you given any thought to a little bit less control?
Cook: Yeah, of course. On the general topic of opening up APIs, I think you’ll see us open up more in the future, but not to the degree that we put the customer at risk of having a bad experience. So there’s always a fine line to walk there, or maybe not so fine. We think the customer pays us to make choices on their behalf. I’ve see some of these settings screens, and I don’t think that’s what customers want. Do some want it? Yes. But you’ll see us open up more.
Walt: So there’ll be some features you’ll let third parties do?
Open iOS – The end of the Jailbreak?
Apple will be careful allowing such access to an Open iOS in order to preserve the user experience. Tightly controlling iOS allows Apple to ensure the user of an iPhone and iPad is consistent across the board. Allowing open access to allow 3rd parties to hook into system services means a poor quality tweak could affect the user experience. To that end, expect a special section of the App Store for such 3rd party tweaks which will be subject to the same approval process as Apps currently undergo in the App Store.
An Open iOS does raise the question as to what will happen to the Jailbreak scene? Will there be a need for it if developers had 3rd party access to iOS?