At a company event today Apple has introduced an iPhone software development kit allowing developers to begin building third party applications for the device.
According to a Macworld article, Apple indicated that an iPhone application accounted for 25 per cent of Bank of America's mobile banking transactions.
"Starting today, we're opening up the same APIs and tools that we use internally," said Apple's vice president of iPhone software Scott Forstall.
Apple engineers have created a new framework for application development, based on OS X's Cocoa environment, which it calls Cocoa Touch. The core OS is similar to Mac OS X, but with memory optimisation and power management features - and the provision of built-in support for touch-based controls.
iPhone SDK also supports Core Audio and a whole new range of services, including Core Location. The API will allow developers to access the address book, certain databases, and location information to create location-aware applications along with video and audio capabilities, 3D effects, and an embedded version of OpenGL.
As far as games are concerned, the iPhone SDK also lets developers make use of the phones accelerometer - motion sensors that allow the phone to know where it is located in 3D space and respond accordingly.
Pocket Lint reports that Apple demonstrated the technology with a game called Touch Fighter in which a spaceship was controlled by tilting the phone. EA and Sega, given two weeks to develop an iPhone demo, showed Spore and Super Monkey Ball, respectively.
"We think we're years ahead of any other platform for a mobile device," Forstall said.
Apple will deploy the development kit through its existing Xcode environment with an interface builder, iPhone simulator and various tools to check memory usage. Created applications can be sent straight across to an iPhone for testing.