Archive for April 8, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Section 3.3.1

John Gruber:

What Apple doesn’t want—and as we see now, is not going to allow—is for anyone other than Apple to define the framework for native iPhone apps.


Cross-platform software toolkits have never—ever—produced top-notch native apps for Apple platforms. Not for the classic Mac OS, not for Mac OS X, and not for iPhone OS. Such apps generally have been downright crummy. On the other hand, perhaps iPhone users will be missing out on good apps that would have been released if not for this rule, but won’t now.

Leaving aside the question of whether it’s reasonable to ban cross-platform applications rather than let customers decide whether they’re useful, I worry that this new regulation will also affect native applications. There are a variety of reasons that a developer might want to leverage other languages (either at build time or runtime) for code reuse, libraries, or development speed and power. Consider, for example, an AI or game engine written in Lisp that compiles down to ARM assembly or C. Hank Williams writes:

Developers are not free to use any tools to help them. If there is some tool that converts some Pascal or, Ruby, or Java into Objective-C it is out of bounds, because then the code is not “originally” written in C. This is akin to telling people what kind of desk people sit at when they write software for the iPhone. Or perhaps what kind of music they listen to. Or what kind of clothes they should be wearing. This is *INSANE*.

What will the next rule change be?

Update (2010-04-10): Hank Williams explains this a bit more:

By defining the rule as being about what language something is “originally” written in, we now must be supposedly concerned about the provenance of our code, and not just what it does. If a math library, or a physics engine, or a string package, or whatever, was originally written in some other language, and ported, then it violates this rule. This concept of what language something is written in is an insidious concept and strikes at the core of product development and of computer science in general. Everything is built on other stuff, the language provenance of which is often unclear. This language is fundamentally unreasonable, and un-enforceable.

I’m not convinced by his legal arguments (IANAL), but I think the important point is that Apple’s attack on cross-platform interface toolkits (of which I’m no fan) causes collateral damage and bans (should they choose to enforce 3.3.1) lots of libraries, tools, and techniques that could be used to develop top-notch, fully native iPhone OS software.

Bypassing the App Store

Jeff LaMarche:

Overall, I’m excited and positive about this update. There was one thing about the presentation tough, that I felt was a negative. I thought some of the answers given during the Q&A period were just outright disingenuous. The most blatant case in point was when Steve was asked about distributing apps without the App Store, His response was to point out that Android has a “porn application store that your kids can get to,” and then state that Apple “didn’t want to go there.” Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot?

Jobs is often remarkably candid, but then there are cases like the above and, “Cingular doesn’t want to see their West Coast network go down…”

Private API Is the Wrong Question

Tim Wood:

So, here we have a blob of common code that helps define the platform and I can’t get to it. This sounds like private API to me, even if it isn’t actually in the pile labelled “UIKit”. Instead of finishing this and making it available, the code is seemingly included directly in each of the iWork applications. The claim of iWork using 100% public API comes off a bit like a kid finishing cleaning their room by sweeping the last pile of junk under the bed.

iPad Typography

Stephen Coles (via Lukas Mathis):

Apple has made some puzzling decisions over the last few years that leave one wondering if they really care about typography as much as they did in the 1980s when the Mac launched the desktop publishing revolution. As recently as 2005, Steve Jobs made typography a central theme of his commencement address to Stanford grads, but his actions as the almighty head of Apple haven’t followed suit.

From Lucida italic to Marker Felt, to the strange choices in iBooks, the contrast with Microsoft’s recent font work is striking.