Archive for January 29, 2022

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Xcode Through the Years

Cory Bohon (tweet, Hacker News):

As we begin 2022, it has been almost 20 years since Apple released Xcode to developers as the predominant way to create Mac apps.


This was a revolutionary idea, and Apple put itself in direct competition with the commercially available IDEs like CodeWarrior that developers were using at the time to build apps for the Mac. It would take a few years, but Project Builder (and its successor, Xcode) would become the dominant IDE for developers building apps on the Mac — especially as Apple began developing new platforms like the iPhone and essentially locked developers into using Xcode for building apps for those platforms.


In 2010, Apple took the development community by surprise when it announced Xcode 4, a ground-up rewrite of the interface that merged two major development apps, Interface Builder and Xcode, into a single app.

I have special affection for ProjectBuilder (without the space) and Xcode 3.

These days, having learned to heavily use .xcconfig files and made peace with the single-window workflow and linking groups and folders, I’m reasonably happy with it. Interfacewise, the last several versions have brought welcome tweaks. It seems to be at a local maximum.

The main pain points right now:


Update (2022-01-31): Steve Troughton-Smith:

Xcode 4 was the beginning of the end for Interface Builder. What was a fast, reliable, extensible external tool became bogged down with storyboards & autolayout, and accidentally clicking on NIBs became something that’d make you cringe and wait for Xcode to finish beachballing

I am fully convinced that the direction Interface Builder took poisoned the well for iOS development in a way that now makes SwiftUI feel far more appealing than it deserves to be, just as a breath of fresh air and escape from autolayout constraints 😂

Ken Kocienda:

Interface Builder should have remained a separate app. It worked better with more screen real estate and a menu bar tailored for it.

After all, any significantly large app includes resources created in separate apps (e.g. for images, video, sound).

It seems like Interface Builder was built into Xcode to offer an easier onramp for novice developers, with the side effect of permanently hampering it as a tool for professional developers.

Tim Kokesh:

I wouldn’t have a problem with Interface Builder remaining built into Xcode, if I could just open my storyboards in a separate full-sized window. Setting everything up at 50% is an unbelievable drag.

Unlisted App Distribution

Apple (via mikeymikey, MacRumors):

Release your apps that aren’t suited for public distribution as unlisted on the App Store, discoverable only with a direct link. Unlisted apps don’t appear in any App Store categories, recommendations, charts, search results, or other listings. They can also be accessed through Apple Business Manager and Apple School Manager. Apps for specific organizations, special events, or research studies, or apps used as employee resources or sales tools are good candidates for unlisted distribution.


You’ll need to submit a request to receive a link to your unlisted app.

Perhaps this could also be used to continue distributing and updating old versions of apps.

Ryan Jones:

Old school devs will remember the trick to doing this in ~2012.

Very useful for press access, broader testing, and testing app review ;).

See also Benjamin Ragheb (tweet).

Update (2022-02-04): Markus Müller-Simhofer:

Apple approved our request to move our “MindNode – Volume License” app to be unlisted. Approval took about 1 business day. This is a great new App Store feature. We already wanted to remove this version from sale, but this would have prevented MDM deployments.

Apple’s Q1 2022 Results

Apple (Hacker News):

The Company posted an all-time revenue record of $123.9 billion, up 11 percent year over year, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $2.10.

Jason Snell (transcript, also: John Voorhees, Malcolm Owen):

Mac revenue also reached a new all-time high at $10.9 billion, and iPhone revenue also peaked at $71.6 billion. The iPad’s revenue was $7.2 billion, down sequentially and year-over-year, but still among the five best iPad quarters in recent years.

Services kept its upward growth path, setting a new record at $19.5 billion, and Wearables/Home/Accessories likewise set a new record at $14.7 billion.

Services is second only to iPhone, despite Mac and Wearables both setting new records. I don’t like seeing that, since increasing Services revenue seems to be linked to so many bad incentives for Apple.

John Gruber:

Last year Mac and iPad were very close to even. This year, Mac sales were up 25%, and iPad down 14%. That’s not surprising given the hardware releases last year: a good but uneventful year for iPads vs. the single most transformative year for Mac hardware ever.

Jeff Johnson:

There’s no conclusive evidence that M1 is a big sales driver for Mac. Sales of Intel Macs skyrocketed with the pandemic and WFH after a number of flat years.

2021 Q2 was massive +YOY but the same as pre-M1 2020 Q4, which was the same as post-M1 2021 Q4. […] It appears though that the pandemic has somewhat disrupted traditional seasonal buying patterns. If you look at quarter-to-quarter comparisons instead, it’s even worse for M1.


Unpacking Clone Was the App Store’s Top Download

Luke Plunkett (via Dave Mark):

Unpacking was one of the best games of 2021, not just make my personal GOTY list, but the entire site’s as well. It is currently available on PC, Mac, Switch and Xbox One. It is most definitely not available on Apple’s iOS devices.

And yet! Earlier today, the top free download on the App Store, outranking even YouTube, Tik-Tok and Instagram, was a game called Unpacking Master, which, as you may have guessed from the price-point and platform, is not just inspired by Unpacking, but is a criminally shameless clone of it.

The App Store seems to make it easier for rip-offs and scams to gain traction.


Update (2022-01-31): John Gordon:

Like Amazon’s counterfeit business.