iPhone 6: The Need for Open Source

After a month of owning my iPhone 5 I am still pretty happy except in one aspect. The dock connector. While it is a necessary change that eventually had to happen, what I don’t find necessary is the need to close off the licensing of the new dock connector so third parties can’t roll out with cheaper converters and accessories. Furthermore, Why can’t Apple just publish their dock connector pin outs and bluetooth connection requirements?

Recently I bought a newer car that is just old enough not to have an aux input or an iPod connection. I have been holding out on buying an iPod stereo connection as I’ve known for a while now that Apple would be changing the dock connector. Then I got to thinking. What if I can just make a Bluetooth device that works with my existing iPhone? Why not just stream music over Bluetooth? That way I’m not tied to a dock connector and I can use any Bluetooth music player. Great! I’ve got the skills! I’ll just modify an existing stereo interface product and add a Bluetooth shield and an a small processor and I’ll be streaming music in no time. Enter Apple MFi. You can’t get details on interfacing with iPhone’s Bluetooth without becoming a developer and applying for the MFi program. So much for making my own Bluetooth device. Now my best options are paying for an older iPod interface and shelling out 30 bucks for the converter, or wait until Apple licenses the new connector. It’s unfortunate you need to be a developer to experiment with Apple technology.

For those that have run into the Car stereo Issue that I have, I think I may have found a fairly elegant solution. Now I just have to wait for one to be available:

Currently Android is the big leader when it comes to open source interfacing with their devices. There are already development boards which allow you to connect and talk to android devices over the connector or Bluetooth. While the business model works for the time being, I can’t help but think Android will eventually pull ahead when it comes to third party accessories. Sure the big players such as Sony and  Logitech will roll out with their Apple devices, but closed off standards make it difficult for hobbyist to experiment and invent.  As Kickstarter has shown, A lot of good invention can come from small time hobbyist. If more and better devices become much more available(And cheaper) on Android, consumers could start second guessing their new iPhone purchases. This seems to be a throwback of the PC vs Mac battle from the 80’s.

Conversely, I don’t think Apple has much to lose by opening up the pin out and Bluetooth standards.  Tinkerers, can experiment, and then pay Apple the fees to bring a product to market as a licensed product. I think  A big part of the iPhone success is attributed to the fact that it’s so easy to download Xcode and learn iOS for free. The model should be Develop for free then pay to license. Not the other way around. Quality control can be handled in the licensing.  For these reasons, I think there may be a good chance that iPhone 6 will impose more open standards. At least I can only hope.


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