As Apple summons the tech press to its Cupertino headquarters to detail its future plans for the iPhone, we can't help but speculate on their announcements concerning applications for the phone built by third parties.
The third-party apps Apple should support
All signs point to Apple taking the wraps off a Software Development Kit (SDK) it had promised to deliver last month. When Apple does grant developers access to building native applications for the iPhone, it will mark a significant new direction for the iPhone since it was first previewed at the January 2007 Macworld Expo.
See also: Apple iPhone review
Back in the days before the iPhone's launch, Apple resisted calls to open the iPhone to third-party development, citing its desire to preserve the device's security and stability. By last summer's Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple had offered developers an alternative - they could create web-based applications that iPhone users would access through the device's built-in Safari browser.
While some software developers took Apple up on its web-based offer, others built native iPhone apps anyway. The catch was that, to install these third-party apps, users had to "jailbreak" their iPhones by intercepting the communication between the iPhone and iTunes. However this invalidates the warranty and runs the risk of future software updates rendering the phone inoperable.
In October, Apple signalled an end to this cat-and-mouse game, promising to deliver an iPhone SDK in February. That SDK is likely to be a major focus of Apple's forthcoming announcement. But the specifics of what Apple plans to say remain up in the air: how open will the iPhone be to third-party development? Will Apple place tight restrictions on third-party apps? Or will those restrictions only apply to paid-for apps? And when third-party applications do appear, that is of course assuming they won't be unveiled at Apple's announcement, what can we expect to see?
While we have to wait with baited breath to see exactly what Apple will say, here's our own wish-list of iPhone apps, ranked in ascending order of urgency, we want to see appear in native form.
25. Amazon Kindle client/e-book reader
Amazon's Kindle e-book reader is half brilliant and half failure. The brilliant part is Amazon's internet system, which allows you to easily search for and buy electronic books or periodicals and download them directly to the company's reader hardware. The failure part is the reader hardware itself, so poorly designed that it practically cries out for Apple to redesign it.
Since Apple's not in the business of doing Amazon's work for it, how about this instead: Amazon takes the part of Kindle that's brilliant - its internet and payment services - and sticks them on a piece of hardware with a design that's approximately 1 billion percent better than what Amazon's selling. Will people really buy and read books, magazines, and newspapers on their iPhones? If you're Amazon, it's worth a try.
NEXT PAGE: More native apps for the iPhone we'd like to see including Photo Booth, a digital spirit level and Unit Converter