Apple has opened up the Apple Developer Forums for talking about iPhone software development. The free forums, currently in beta testing, are available to anyone signed up for iPhone development via its three programs: standard, enterprise, and university. Standard developers pay a $99 fee, which includes the right to submit software for release through the App Store, while businesses pay $299 for the right to develop software that's distributed within a company. Those signed up just to access the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK), which requires no payment, are not allowed access.
Apple was widely criticized by programmers for keeping a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place following the release of the iPhone 2.0 software. This NDA prevented any public discussion of development issues, restricted the distribution among companies of software code, and put a damper even on private interactions, many developers said.
The NDA was dropped informally a few weeks ago (see "Apple Allows Developers to Talk about iPhone Software," 2008-10-01) and the legal agreement was updated last week. The removal of the NDA covers only software and features that have been publicly announced and discussed, such as the current release of the iPhone operating system.