Apple Will Open More iOS APIs to Developers in the 'Future'

iPhone APIs OpeningThe most surprising news to come out of Apple CEO Tim Cook's keynote appearance at this year's D conference is that Apple will be opening up more APIs in iOS to developers. Walt Mossberg asked Mr. Cook about the ability for Android users to choose their keyboard, their home screen, and lock screens, and Mr. Cook said flat out that Apple will be opening more of iOS sometime in the future.

Walt Mossberg raised the question by bringing up Facebook Home, an Android app from Facebook that takes over one's smartphone. Noting that Facebook Home hasn't done well, he said that there are a number of options available on Android that aren't available on iOS.

"Let's talk about control," Mr. Mossberg said, according to The Verge's live blogging. "Your keyboard and your recognition, predictive typing and all that stuff, hasn't kept pace with Android. [Google] allow[s] other people to make that technology, third parties can give you a choice. Have you given any thought to a little bit less control?"

"Yeah, of course," Mr. Cook said. "On the general topic of opening up APIs, I think you'll see us open up more in the future, but not to the degree that we put the customer at risk of having a bad experience. So there's always a fine line to walk there, or maybe not so fine."

What he's referring to is anyone's guess, though he specifically said that Facebook's Chat Heads weren't something you should expect throughout iOS. It doesn't seem likely that Apple would allow apps to take over iPhone or iPad's home screen—though we note that Google Now is the single most compelling feature of Android in part because it can take over the Android home screen.

Third party keyboards, however, have been all the rage on Android, and we can easily see Apple opening up that sort of thing. The question is when.

Mr. Cook also said, "We think the customer pays us to make choices on their behalf. I've see some of these settings screens, and I don't think that's what customers want. Do some want it? Yes."

This is essentially the crux of many Apple haters argument. They don't want Apple making those decisions—which is perfectly fine—but they get lost by denying the value of Apple's whole widget/walled garden approach for others.

"But," Mr. Cook said. "You'll see us open up more."