While iPhone 2G users with an unlocked phone can now upgrade to the latest (2.0) release of the iPhone software, the same shipping on 3G iPhones, there is still no Installer available for this firmware release, so no alternative method to install third party applications.

Apple’s AppStore officially opened the iPhone platform to third party developers and a number of great applications are now available. One of the issues with the AppStore is that while on Installer.app anybody could list their software for users to download it freely, there are at this moment literally thousands of developers, startups and companies waiting for Apple to approve them for the iPhone Developer Program, a necessary step to get your app on the AppStore. Apple is creating the next walled garden, probably one not as bad as the mobile operator’s, but the walls are still there.

On the AppStore you can get great games with console-like features and cool Apps like Facebook, WordPress or Truphone, from the leading software and game developers that with the AppStore got a great ecosystem to sell their app and easily distribute it to a growing number of users. Unfortunately you can’t get useful apps like NetShare, that let you share your iPhone’s EDGE or 3G Internet connection with your computer, because they hurt the mobile operator’s lucative business and Apple was quick to remove it from the AppStore. Similarly you won’t get an iFon connection manager anytime soon, as the necessary controls to access and manage the WiFi connection are not available with the official SDK.

Another big limit Apple is imposing to developers is the inability to run background processes. This means for example that you can’t have a real Instant Messaging or VoIP session active while doing other things on your iPhone (and so you won’t receive an incoming call on a VoIP app like Fring unless the app is active on your iPhone’s screen). What Apple has designed to overcome this is a push notification system for app developers, that allows them to send updates (like the number of incoming messages in a messaging app) to the application while this is not running on the phone. A nicely designed alternative, but one that again limits developers and puts control in Apple’s hands.

All these are good reasons to get Installer 4.0 on your iPhone as soon as the Dev Team will have it ready. Looks like a few developers are already betatesting it.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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