Apple Drops iPhone NDA

Apple has dropped their Non-Disclosure Agreement for iPhone app developers. Since March 6, 2008, anyone who wanted to develop official apps for the iPhone were legally bound to keep their mouths shut about nearly everything to do with the process, but no longer. Apple released an official open letter on Apple.com to their developers stating that the NDA for released apps has been lifted, as well as explaining why it was put in place.

To Our Developers

We have decided to drop the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for released iPhone software.

We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don’t steal our work. It has happened before. While we have filed for hundreds of patents on iPhone technology, the NDA added yet another level of protection. We put it in place as one more way to help protect the iPhone from being ripped off by others.

However, the NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone’s success, so we are dropping it for released software. Developers will receive a new agreement without an NDA covering released software within a week or so. Please note that unreleased software and features will remain under NDA until they are released.

Thanks to everyone who provided us constructive feedback on this matter.

Since it was created, the NDA bound developers to secrecy and forbid them from disclosing or discussing the process of app creation, making collaboration between developers and the creation of an iPhone app development community impossible. Now that it has been lifted for released apps, many developers are able to share source code with one another and improve the quality of applications being released, among other things.

Apple’s letter also answers a lot of questions. For a long time, nobody could figure out why Apple was being so strict in imposing such secrecy. A Daring Fireball reader back in August hit the nail on the head, guessing that it had to do with their desire to protect their intellectual property.

It also answers the question about how Apple would allow university classes to be created based on developing iPhone apps when the NDA prohibits it. Now that it’s been loosened, classes on development are possible.

To celebrate, Craig Hockenberry of Icon Factory (makers of Twitterific) has created a little surprise in the form of some source code you can download, compile and install.

[via TUAW]

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