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Apple adds Exchange support to iPhone, unveils SDK

But enterprise functionality and third-party apps won't happen until June

March 6, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Apple Inc. announced on Thursday that it has licensed protocols from rival Microsoft Corp. to add Exchange support to its iPhone.

The company also unveiled a software developer's kit (SDK) that hands over the tools third-party developers need to write native, rather than Web-based, applications for the smart phone.

However, both new functions -- Exchange support and the ability to install non-Apple applications -- won't be added to the iPhone until June, CEO Steve Jobs said.

At the midmorning event at Apple's Cupertino, Calif., campus, executives said that the company had licensed Exchange ActiveSync from Microsoft and that it would roll out Exchange support in the Version 2.0 upgrade to the iPhone's software.

"We're building Exchange support so you get push e-mail, push calendaring, push contacts, global address lists and the ability to remote wipe [the iPhone]," said Phil Schiller, Apple marketing head, according to a transcript of the event posted by Engadget.

No new applications need to be added to the iPhone, Schiller said, because messages, appointments and contacts transferred from a company's Exchange mail server will end up in the iPhone's existing e-mail, calendar and address book applications. "The same e-mail app, calendar app and contact apps that customers really love will get information directly from the Exchange server," said Schiller.

A few enterprises have been testing the new Exchange support, Schiller said, citing both The Walt Disney Co. and Nike Inc. as early test sites. "I think when we release these features, people will be blown away that the iPhone is the best mobile device ever in enterprise," he added.

Another company official, Scott Forstall, who heads the iPhone software group, touted the SDK that Apple is releasing in beta form today to developers. "Third-party developers can build native iPhone applications using the same SDK that we do," said Forstall.

He also spelled out the frameworks and tools that developers will have at their disposal, including a variant of Mac OS X's Cocoa application framework and Xcode, a source-code editor and debugger. The Cocoa variant, called Cocoa Touch, is an "advanced touch event system," said Forstall. It lets developers access the iPhone's touch and gesture features, including the accelerometer, the tiny sensor in the iPhone that automatically switches between landscape and portrait display modes as the phone is turned on its axis, he said.

Other tools in the SDK include an interface builder and something new that Apple has dubbed the iPhone Simulator. "It runs on a Mac and simulates the entire API stack on your computer," Forstall said.

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