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Tell HN: The iPad is open to hacking
65 points by cpr 2794 days ago | hide | past | web | 71 comments | favorite
I don't get the hate.

Pay your $99 to become a developer, and, once the NDA is lifted, share your code freely with others on github or some other public venue.

Think of the $99 as the cost of the SDK. (Even though the SDK & associated tools are freely downloadable.)

If you're really interested in sharing arbitrary code with people, this is even perhaps the best way to do it. They download the code, and build & go in Xcode.

You're running on a Mach/BSD Unix-based system, so go hog-wild. Port terminal programs, or write your own. Yes, it's true that apps are sandboxed, but now you've got inter-app file sharing (oops, is that under NDA?).

Apple has zero interest in what you do with the iPad that doesn't go through the App Store.

Think of the App Store as the public roads for the iPad--the state has a vested interest in making sure that drivers are minimally competent, so they have a gatekeeping function in the form of a license. On the private roads, or roads you make yourself, go crazy.




> Think of the App Store as the public roads for the iPad--the state has a vested interest in making sure that drivers are minimally competent, so they have a gatekeeping function in the form of a license.

That really makes no sense at all. You are basically saying that in order to produce software you have to pass a 'driving test', but in fact there are millions of people producing open source software that would make the majority of these apps look like the toys they are.

Sorry, but that really doesn't fly with me, the app store is simply a method of control that has nothing to do with quality.

Or were those google programmers that got their application refused somehow incompetent?

The only arbiter of what is 'good enough' and what isn't is the user, not some approval process.

If all they did was scan for malware I'd have no problem with it.


Ok, perhaps the analogy was weak.

Perhaps it's more like you're building cars for people to drive, and some third party needs to check before people get in the car and kill themselves because you've made a steering wheel that falls off under slight stress.


Notepad computers don't kill people, worst case your stuff doesn't work and they won't use it again.

This is not 'mission critical' by a long shot.

It all boils down to the safety vs freedom argument, we can be 100% safe or we can have a lot of freedom. Personally I'll take the freedom, if you want to be 100% safe but only able to run vendor approved applications then that's fine with me, but it is one step too many in the direction of 'trusted computing' for me.


No, worst case your app steals their credit card info (witness the recent Android bank phishing app) and costs them tremendous time and bother (not to say potentially money) cleaning up the mess.

In this case, at the first sign of malwareism, Apple can disable the app immediately for everyone, limiting the damage.


Phishing requires active participation by the end user, you can't protect against stupidity.

Do app store applications have the source code audited?

Will Apple take responsibility if something like that were to happen to the iphone?

Besides, I already said I'm fine with malware scans, what they could simply do is audit and release a key that approves the app.

If you install an app that was not vetted you're on your own.


> "you can't protect against stupidity."

Trusting that an app on the Android marketplace is who it says it is is not stupidity. Honestly, this sort of geek arrogance ("but surely you must've known to discombobulate the zorgotron before you bazzed the foobar!") is what turns people off to geek-friendly platforms.

> "if something like that were to happen to the iphone?"

Apple at least vets who you say you are supposed to be before publishing your app. It's questionable if they will take responsibility if something makes it through, but the idea is that they're doing due diligence up front, Android is apparently not.

> "Besides, I already said I'm fine with malware scans"

This isn't malware that a malware scan will pick up. It doesn't try to take root, it doesn't nuke your files, and in fact it doesn't do anything a banking app is not expected to do. No amount of port blocking will save you, since everything this app does (according to the OS) is fully expected.

> "If you install an app that was not vetted you're on your own."

Yet... One side vets the app for you, the other one carries itself like an authoritative safe haven, but in fact isn't. Any wonder why people flock to the iPhone App Store?


If you install an app that was not vetted you're on your own.

This is why I think Apple should sell a "Pro" version of this kit that comes with an unlocked "sandbox". I envision something that looks more like OS X, with a "iPad" app that flips you to the locked iPad OS. On the iPad side, there would be an "OS X" app that would flip you back over to the sandbox. Actually, both environments would be virtualized, so they'd be well insulated from each other.


Actual case of an approved App-store app making premium-rate phone calls without informing users: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/27/iphone_admob/


So, Apple will make sure any user accessing email from the iPhone/iPad won't go after the money he just inherited in Nigeria.


I think it's better to just drop analogy altogether: Apple is a retailer, deciding what is fit to go on their (virtual) shelves. Most people would find this perfectly reasonable, or at least more reasonable than the sort of parental/governmental role that analogies like yours point to.


Yes, but with Android or any other powerful OS (osx, windows, linux) you can go to anybody else's shelves and have any product they'll sell you. With the iPhone you can only shop at the company store.


"Yes, but" those also suffer from that approach in ways that Apple's store doesn't. There is room for both in this world.


Except the $99 is per year, not a one-time cost.

Apple really needs to figure out some kind of open development plan for iPad. I'd argue it's not so important for the iPhone, but for the iPad, I think it may be critical...


It's the new subscription model, subscribe to rights that you should have by default. Such as the ability to program the computer that you just bought.

Early computers all came with built in programming capability, then we lost some of that and then open source happened and suddenly it seemed ridiculous to ask developers money to support your platform.

It's like charging the guys that sweep your street toll.

Be happy that people want to develop for your platform and make it as easy as possible for them.

Things like this will incrementally push developers away from closed platforms. Why on earth would anybody pay a subscription to a toolchain. Open source tools are abundant and free, run on practically any piece of hardware from small embedded controllers all the way to supercomputers.

When switching from a windows environment to open source for my main dev box a couple of years ago, I was worried about not being able to bring my tools along. Now I feel completely unable to do anything useful on a machine that does not come with at least a full complement of unix tools.

I can see a device like the ipad as a target, but if development is going to be limited to apple-only then the subscription fee is the smaller part (we do have an imac here, but I doubt that everybody that wants to develop for the pad has a mac ready to go).

So for some the cost is significantly higher than just the subscription to the SDK.

I prefer software without a built in expiry date anyway.


The apps you built will never expire. (I know that from personal experience; we let our iPhone dev certificate expire for a while due to lack of attention, but our apps never failed to work.)

The SDK you've downloaded will never expire.

Yes, the ability to sign apps will disappear, but you could run them in unsigned debug mode forever.


So, effectively you're on the hook for as long as you decide to support your product.


Sure thing! I don't find it offensive to pay $99/year to Apple in exchange for them maintaining their developer portal and tools.

They invest tens of millions in the toolchain alone every year, and, I'm even underwriting a lot of great LLVM/clang open source development with my fee...


They also take 30% of every app you sell. The fact I bought doodle jump underwrote the developer tools. As of this year they are the single biggest mobile company due to their app and phone sales. The $100 a developer isn't much of a profit for them as it is a means to control access.


I'm sorry, but I don't think 30% is an unreasonable cut.

When I sell my current indie Mac/Win software through resellers, I have to give them at least 25% to make it worth their while.


> I'm sorry, but I don't think 30% is an unreasonable cut.

That's good for you. Did you negotiate with Apple?

Or did you find that since there can not be any competition that it was 30% or forget it?

> When I sell my current indie Mac/Win software through resellers, I have to give them at least 25% to make it worth their while.

Ah, but the interesting bit here is that apparently there you can negotiate.


Well, not really--if you don't give a reseller at least 20-25%, they're not going to be motivated to sell.


Neither do I, I'm just saying it's making them very profitable, much more so then the developer fee. So much more that I don't see the developer fee as a source of income.


...rights that you should have by default. Such as the ability to program the computer that you just bought.

Do you feel this applies equally to everything that "computes" (including your cable box, your microwave, your car, your dumbphone etc.) or is there some threshold at which that expectation begins?


I draw the line at appliances that are 'single use' versus appliances that are dual-to-universal uses.

For instance the 'slug' is a nice example of such a device, it is far more useful 'open' than it ever was closed.


Slug?


I believe he means the Linksys NSLU NAS box.

The thing is, modding that device isn't much different from jailbreaking your iPhone. If you're okay with invalidating the warrantee on the slug, then I don't understand why you'd complain about the iPhone/Pad model since it's largely the same: Keep Out!


f you're okay with invalidating the warrantee on the slug, then I don't understand why you'd complain about the iPhone/Pad model

It's not a question of voiding the warranty; Apple is on record saying that jailbreaking is and should be a criminal act.


> Apple is on record saying that jailbreaking is and should be a criminal act.

In case you haven't heard about that before:

http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/02/apple-says-jailbreaking...

And let's make sure that it really sinks in what they are saying here:

If you buy a device you do not own it and can not do with it what pleases you.

And this from the manufacturer of a computer that was as open as it could possibly be, the Apple II.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe how far we've come and then at the same time how much we have lost.

Steve Jobs is an absolutely awesome business guy, the way he has turned Apple around will be studied for decades. At the same time I wonder if it would have been possible without all this nastiness. If not then more power to him, but I prefer to think of the other Steve when I look at Apple and what might have been.


I recommend reading the actual documents the EFF is reporting on before drawing conclusions. I did so months ago and I think the EFF's reporting on it is grossly misleading.

The context is Apple's response to the EFF's filing for a DMCA exemption for jailbreaking as part of the DMCA rulemaking process. In other words: it is already illegal if it involves a copyright violation, and the EFF was trying to get it made a special exemption. Exemptions are considered based on certain requirements in the law, and a number have been granted. What Apple actually said was that jailbreaking should not be specially exempted from the DMCA for the reasons the EFF cited, because they don't meet the requirements in the law. If you actually look at the reasons the EFF cited, I think you'll find that they don't.

Again, I recommend reading the filings yourself, and the law on DMCA exemptions, and the list of existing exemptions, and make up your own mind.


Here is what apple actually said:

"Congress did not envision the DMCA exemption process as a forum for economic restructuring of business models... As this submission will demonstrate, the evidence shows that a business model in which handsets can be widely jailbroken with the attendant problems that result would in fact hinder the creation and distribution of creative works for the platform."

I figure next up is the suggestion that Apple strongly lobbied against the DMCA.


Congress did not envision the DMCA exemption process as a forum for economic restructuring of business models...

I double dog dare you to claim that the EFF was not attempting to abuse the DMCA exemption process to this end.

I figure next up is the suggestion that Apple strongly lobbied against the DMCA.

I have no idea what you're talking about.


Absolutely, I was using the slug as an example of what hardware is capable of in the hands of competent programmers. The fact that you have to void the warranty or 'jailbreak' it is really sad.


Why do you say that?


"Pay your $99 to become a developer"

Correct me if I am wrong but I think you have to pay this every year? (I remember something like this for IPhone dev). Insane to pay year after year for the privilege of developing and deploying your code on your device.

yeah we don't "hate" Apple/IPhone/Ipad but it is natural for people to resist being treated like idiots/serfs/sharecroppers.


How much would hosting your app and doing payment processing yourself cost you a year?


"How much would hosting your app and doing payment processing yourself cost you a year?"

Ahh but I am not talking about the 30% Apple takes off the price of my app when sold through the Apple Store ; The AppStore itself is another sharecropper management device but never mind that for now

I am talking of how much it costs me per year to put my program on my device. The commission on sales (which arguably pays for hosting and payment processing) is a separate issue.

The latter is arguable. The former is indefensible.

Look, no one is arguing you shouldn't sell your soul to Apple. It is your money, go right ahead.

The OP asked why people balked at paying 99$ (every year). I was just explaining why some of us unenlightened developers refuse to see the light ;-).


Am I buying this device from apple, or am I licensing it? Why on Earth should I have to pay $99/year fee to run code on my own device?


You're not--you're paying $99/year to keep updated on their dev tools.

(Let the downmodding begin. ;-)


The $99 is a one-time fee. (Edit: Oops, I guess not.) If you don't want to go that route, though, you can bet this thing will get jailbroken in the first month. :)


Did they recently change this? It used to be $99 yearly


> share your code freely with others on github or some other public venue.

Did anyone notice if it's still a terms of service violation to do this? It is for the iPhone/iPod as far as I remember.


http://developer.apple.com/iphone/terms/registered_iphone_de...

I don't see anything in the iPhone developer agreement that addresses this point.

If all you're sharing is your code, and not any of their headers, documentation, etc., then you're free to do so.

There's a good deal of high-quality open-source iPhone library code out there on github right now.



I have no reason to expect that they will lift that from the TOS.


Except that it's not in the TOS.


It still doesn't feel right to have to pay $99 just to test your code on the device.


That isn't all you get for that $99, though. Unless you have absolutely no interest in distributing or selling anything through the App Store (in which case, what a waste!) it's a better deal than that makes it sound. (Yeah, the App Store isn't a magic money machine, but my point is you're not just getting what you say.) It's also an amazing deal compared to most mobile platforms and game consoles.


Think of it as the cost of the device. You have a consumer-grade device and a developer-friendly one that costs $99 more.

It doesn't feel right, really, because they are the same device, but I suspect you can get used to it.

Besides that, it's a question of time for the device to be jailbroken. A jailbroken iPad is a very nice thing to have, IMHO.


... Per year. So if you have the device for three years, make sure you tack on $297.


$99 for every year you want to develop for the device.


Or I could wait for the next device to come along, one that's just a flat PC, and not have to jump through any hoops whatsoever.


I've been looking around but I can't find anything that comes close and isn't vapourware.

But I don't think it'll be long.


Or archos.

Or the Vega ( http://convergeddevices.net/products/vega.html )

Or Dell.

Orrrr the Nook.

And i guess i could find a lot more to come this year if i would just start to google.


The Android-based MIDs are really close. Just ask Dell.



I hope we can expect at least some loosening of app store restrictions for the iPad- This pad would be great for an "iphone game construction kit" and I think it's a bit irrational for Apple to argue that it would be harmful for folks to create such an app on a full-screen device like the iPad.


> (Even though the SDK & associated tools are freely downloadable.)

"[citation needed]", as they say - today I looked into it, and that does not seem to be true anymore.

I did bump into the free university program ( http://developer.apple.com/iphone/program/university.html ), which is tucked a bit out of the way. And there's the free "Online Member" (at http://developer.apple.com/products/membership.html ).

But the path to the SDK does seem to be paved with 99 USD. I have no particular objection to that, just curious to know if there is a free peek at the goodies or not.


The SDK that works for the iPad is 3.2, and it's in beta. So, that requires the $99. I assume that as soon as it is no longer in beta, that it will be open just like the regular SDK. If I were to guess, they are doing it this way to gain some protection in the form of a NDA. My guess is that as soon as the device is public, that will be lifted.


You appear to be right--you have to login as a developer to get at the currently-available & public 3.1 SDK.

Edit: Oh, but you can register for free just to get access to the SDK. I guess that means you can't test on a real device, though.


Yes exactly (to your edit).


Pay to become a developer. A-ha-ha! Don't see much future in that!

"What got you into programming?"

"The thrill of paying all those great companies to improve their product!"

(True enough of the great majority of those "100,000 apps" they keep touting.)


I'll probably just wait for a more open android tablet to be released like this one:

http://convergeddevices.net/products/vega.html


Personally, I'm just going to wait until some enterprising soul turns one of the slate PCs announced at CES into a hackintosh. Then I'll be very interested in the "Apple tablet".


There already is the Modbook.


The Modbook is expensive ($1649 if you don't have a machine to sacrifice, $699 if you do).

I hope that the slate PCs that are coming are able to stay at the $1000 or less price point.


A better option is to have healthy competition in this space so we have options, but until then, I'll take all the suggestions I can get.


I think you get the hate very much so- In fact I think you get the hate and disagree with it, which is why you made that post. I hate. I apologize, no wait I don't. I'm not willing to sign my work away to Apple to code for them. I have chosen NEVER to apply to a job for apple, and this would be like giving my life's work away to them. I don't sign NDAs for no reason. (I'm lying when I say this:) Sorry again. But No.


Did you just tell me to go fuck myself?

I believe I did Bob.


I didn't realize it was 99$ per year. That's much worse than I thought.

Apple just keeps getting eviler.


When will the NDA be lifted?


Likely when the product is released to the public.




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