Something is rotten in the state of Cupertino. Mr. Jobs, TEAR DOWN THIS NDA.
If the new iPhone 2.1 beta firmware is anything, it's a perfect excuse to say: "I told you so." It explains why the NDA failed to disappear on schedule. Apple kept its promise -- "Ve shall delivah the 2.0 iPhone und SDK on Yuly 11th" -- while working around the fact that that SDK was half baked at best. It was certainly not ready for prime time. The NDA simply expands the beta period. It offers cover to Apple, as they scramble to finish developing ready-to-ship software.
In retrospect, there really was no need for the NDA in the first place, nor this second new 2.1 NDA that just debuted. Anyone, including Apple's competitors -- even the really evil "big brother" ones -- can sign up and download the SDK for free. Apple isn't exactly keeping things hush hush on the down low.
All the NDA does right now is keep developers from talking to each other and blogs, magazines and book authors from publishing how-to articles. Said articles, etc., could actually help Apple reduce its tech support overhead. It would certainly help solidify the brand and allow third parties to make better, stronger App Store entries.
It made no sense then. It makes no sense now. But that's not where the grumbling ends. Our TUAW tipsters have been busy. They tell us that Apple is busy rejecting Applications from the App Store for grammar mistakes in onboard help files (not a joke) and for not presenting the user with the best playability options (also not a joke). Many of these frustrated developers tell us that some of their products have been waiting for review for four weeks and up and that their updates are getting caught in the gears. One wrote that his apps are getting poor reviews while fixes can't see the light of day.
And if the TUAW tipsters' tips are true (thanks TUAW tipsters), the new SDK throws a further wrench into the gears. 2.0 SDK Applications will not be immediately compatible with version 2.1 (although that could change between beta and release).
Other tremendously terrific tipsters tell us that the newest beta program isn't fully open. Apparently only a subset of iPhone SDK development members have been granted access. That once again puts some developers at a tremendous financial disadvantage.
All in all, the buzz in developer circles is not happy. While some look forward to their first August paychecks from App Store, others remain waiting and frustrated in the wings.
As always, please continue to use our tip line if you have anything you want to add anonymously to the discussion. Otherwise, feel free to opine in our comments.