Thanks to the work of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and, ironically, the successful development of an iPhone application by NASA (bound by the Freedom of Information Act) the secret iPhone Developer agreement is now public. (PDF) EFF summarizes the key highlights of the agreement:
- Ban on Public Statements [by developers]
- App Store Only [for distribution]
- Ban on Reverse Engineering
- No Tinkering with Any Apple Products
- Kill Your App Any Time [Apple can]
- We Never Owe You More than Fifty Bucks [that’s Apple of course]
From an ethics standpoint, I think it is both troubling and remarkable that the use of THE SAME application can be a EULA violation one day, and an enthusiastically supported iTunes App Store download the next. Exhibit A in this category would be the UStream Broadcaster iPhone App. At NECC 2009 in Washington DC, the ISTEConnects live blogging / webcasting crew had to purchase a special Nokia phone to provide mobile Ustream coverage of conference interviews and sessions. They couldn’t use the Ustream iPhone broadcaster app at that time, because it was “illegal” and required a jailbreak. Wouldn’t do to model EULA violations for ISTE educator attendees, would it? This year for ISTE 2010 in Denver, that same application will be available and in use by many I’m sure, since it’s been approved in the iTunes App store since December 2009.
When it comes to ethics, generally “right” and “wrong” are not defined by the daily decree of a corporation. That officially IS the case when it comes to apps on the iPhone and iPod Touch, however.
I hope someday, King Steve will smile down on us and approve multi-tasking iPhone apps, so users of ScreenSplitr can finally come out of the shadows and walk in the bright sunlight. Until then, it’s probably best to stick to the dark alleys.
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