Apple has asked iPhone developers to remove USB syncing from their apps. Is it an attempt to stifle competition to iBooks from existing ebook reader apps? Or just a temporary adjustment to Apple’s API?

Apple recently asked Lexcycle makers of the ebook reading app Stanza to remove its USB syncing capabilities. Users are up in arms and Techcrunch has speculated that Apple was seeking to stifle competition from ebook reader apps that could compete with the Apple iPad’s iBooks store.

However, Apple never allowed USB syncing within its public API and instead restricted apps to their own individual sandboxed file storage area. iPhone apps with USB syncing have been cheating the restriction using a combination of iPhone’s Digital Camera Image Management folder and private APIs.

Apple’s move to restrict USB syncing will be frustrating for users of Stanza and the many PDF readers, audio editors and sequencers that currently use it. But Apple is likely to bring USB syncing back – the beta iPhone OS 3.2 SDK includes an API which allows access to a shared storage folder, which will be mounted as a readable and writable disk when you plug it into your computer.

While iPhone OS 3.2 is currently intended for developing apps for the Apple iPad, it’s likely that the file sharing application will reach the iPhone in a forthcoming update or when iPhone OS 4.0 arrives in the summer.

Out now | £free | Apple (via Ars Technica)

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