But, it is dangerous to ignore negative events, just because the overall trend has been positive for the past 30 years. Apple has been responsible for a number of very negative events in the past few years. Going back to more closed systems is not a good thing, even if the iPad is awesome and seems like magic and kids love it (and I'm sure they do). The iPad and iPhone are more closed, more hostile to tinkerers, more hostile to adventurous users, than most other similar devices. This is a bad thing. One shouldn't apologize for a company doing bad things, just because things in the industry as a whole are better than they were ten or fifteen or twenty years ago.
Open Source software has made dramatic improvements in the landscape for kids learning technology today. Apple is fighting those improvements, and they should be called out for that bad behavior. Apple is behaving in ways that are bad for developers, and bad for kids who might become hackers. Just because they also happen to build awesome products, and do happen to provide an approved relief valve for their closed ecosystem, doesn't make it OK to be hostile to developers and would-be hackers.
The iPad and iPhone are more closed,
more hostile to tinkerers, more hostile
to adventurous users, than most other
similar devices. This is a bad thing.
Open Source software has made dramatic improvements
in the landscape for kids learning technology today.
Apple is fighting those improvements, and they should
be called out for that bad behavior.
Apple is behaving in ways that are bad for developers,
and bad for kids who might become hackers.
People, I understand that some of you may not like Apple for one reason or other, but please,
stop talking nonsense.
FTA (full paragraph for context):
"And, App Store aside — which, yes, requires access to a Mac and a $99/year developer account — what about the iPad and iPhone as web clients? There are no limits imposed by Apple on web apps targeting iPhone OS devices. When I learned to program in the 1980s with BASIC, the interface of our programs was monospaced (and on some machines, all-caps) text. Just text. If we had color it was limited to 16 shades."
A lot could be said about Xcode within your core offering, but requiring $100 to submit a program to the 'open' platform. I don't really have an opinion though.
That said, how could anyone claim with a straight face that 'There are no limits imposed by Apple on web apps targeting iPhone OS devices.'? Or even that in 2010, the number of colors a completely different host OS allowed you to use in 1980 could serve as an analogy for technology 30 years into the future?
Very publicly Apple has rejected apps for duplicating 'core functionality'. More privately, they have given application developers runarounds based on fairly specious reasoning and within a poor framework for supporting the little dev shops that are supposedly so empowered by this new platform.
HN contributors have been exposed to and have discussed these issues repeatedly.
He very clearly says "web apps". iPhone OS fully supports HTML5 web applications that can be installed to SpringBoard (the application launcher) alongside every other app from the App Store. They can run offline, with full HTML5 local database support — they're treated as first-class citizens by the OS.
Microsoft, since at least Windows XP (and perhaps before, I'm too lazy to look), hasn't shipped a programming language with their operating system. Apple ships what, 6 or 7? Python, Ruby, Perl, C, AppleScript, and probably a few others. Those don't require the $99 developer license at all. Apple is the only hacker-friendly PC and OS manufacturer remaining.
Every Linux distribution includes dozens of programming languages.
For developer tools, VS Express has been free for over 5 years.
This tells us that it is a really good platform, and that you enjoy it. It doesn't tell us anything about openness. I agree that iPhone and iPad are awesome devices. Apple makes beautiful computers that mostly work very well. I'm not arguing in any way about the quality, or enjoyability, of Apple products.
At risk of once again distracting from the important point I'm trying to make (which seems to be really easy for folks to do; since nearly every criticism of my comments takes off in a different direction, unrelated to the very real problems with Apples decision to be a gatekeeper for their devices), I will note that developing for iPhone is a little bit old-fashioned. Objective C is a good language for its age, and I happen to like C...but compared to more modern languages (even modern Java found on Android devices), there's a bit more fiddly bits than I like. The end results can be wonderful, but technically, there's some definite trade offs in using a language like Objective C, even with a really well thought out API.
Remember, what phone had useable web browser before iPhone? Right… What's the most popular engine for mobile devices? Correct, WebKit.
Which was an Open Source library that had been in development for years before Apple got involved and forked it and renamed it WebKit. Yes, Apple did wonderful things with WebKit, but you're just parroting the company line if you believe that the ability to make web apps that work on iPhone is the same as an open device.
Like including free X-Code with every single copy of OS X.
Except those copies of OS X that come on the iPhone and iPad.
People, I understand that some of you may not like Apple for one reason or other, but please, stop talking nonsense.
My "one reason or other" is not mysterious. I have not minced words about my problems with Apple. I don't believe you've actually answered the point of my complaints, you've merely parroted the company line. If you agree with Apple, and love their products so much that you're willing to live with those limitations, that's fine.
My only point is that you shouldn't call out a bunch of other stuff Apple does, that may be positive or neutral, as evidence that the closed nature of the iPhone/iPad ecosystem is bad for tinkerers and hackers and kids that might become hackers. And, you really shouldn't make this into a false dichotomy, as Gruber tries to do; you can have an awesome device that is also open. Apple has merely opted not to do so.
The good news is that the latest round of Android devices are as good as the iPhone, and the sales rate of Android phones indicates that iPhone will lose the war in a couple of years, or less, assuming things continue as they have been. It's almost...poetic. I believe openness tends to win, in the end, because its benefits are just too great to ignore. Thus, I'll humbly make a prediction: Apple has shot themselves in the foot, once again, by being a closed platform. If they don't open up, they will gradually lose ground to Android.
Call it nonsense all you want, but I think cultural decisions of important companies can shape the world...and I believe Apple has been making cultural decisions that are a net negative with regard to the iPhone and iPad.
True, but look at the picture of getting people/kids into technology, hacking, programming, a device that inspires them to write apps, and lets them do so, is way better than a device which is super open, but doesn't inspire kids to write code...
>> Except those copies of OS X that come on the iPhone and iPad.
You want to write code and compile it ON the iPad??!? You need a mac to run XCode and your mac will have it for free, and you can download updates for free. Not sure what else you'd want Apple to do.
I don't agree with the bulk of your post, but totally respect your differing opinion. I guess only time will tell what the Apple/Andriod/?? future looks like. In the mean time I'm happy with my technology choices, and hopefully you are too.
Why not? I just visited with an old friend of mine from high school, and the only computer her 7 year old son has access to is her iPhone, and I'm absolutely certain that there will be hundreds of thousands of kids who only have access to an iPad; it's just that kind of device. The iPhone, let alone the iPad, are dramatically more powerful than the Commodore 64 I learned to program on.
Assuming that a kid is like you or me, and will just pony up the thousand bucks for a development machine in order to get to the SDK, and the 99 bucks to participate in the app store, is wishful thinking.
If Apple allowed scripting engines to run on the iPhone and iPad I wouldn't be quite so intense on this...but they don't, so a kid with an iPhone or iPad also can't get access to a BASIC-equivalent, like I had to tinker with. All he gets is whatever games and toys Apple decides he can have. This is a chilling thought, to me, and I'm depressed that many hackers don't feel the same way.
You need a mac to run XCode and your mac will have it for free, and you can download updates for free. Not sure what else you'd want Apple to do.
I expect them to let people tinker and learn and explore, rather than merely consume! Exactly what I've been saying all along. I'm not being secretive about what I'm talking about here. I want Apple to let kids have an environment where they can learn technology, if they want to, even if they don't have wealthy parents who can afford to buy them a Macintosh. Most of these kids parents will never buy a Macintosh, even if they buy an iPhone or an iPad. They can't or won't afford one. If they have a computer at all, it's a super cheapo box from Walmart or something, that was on sale because it was the previous model or similar.
That's the thing about the iPhone and iPad: It reaches people who don't use computers. That's a great thing. The digital divide is already pretty deep and wide, we don't need it getting deeper by cutting everyone off from the Internet. But their kids have the opportunity to cross that divide completely...and Apple doesn't want them to.
I guess only time will tell what the Apple/Andriod/?? future looks like.
It doesn't really matter to the point of my argument, in this particular string of angry rants. I don't think that just because an open option does exist, Apple should get off the hook for the harm they're doing. But, I did want to mention that there is light on the horizon, and I think the good guys will win this round, which is refreshing, after so long under another oppressive regime (though not as problematic as Apple's iPhone/iPad bright and shiny and clean world).
First, let's take a look at what I suspect you think are negative events:
1) iTunes Music Store has DRM encumbered music
2) iTunes Video Store has DRM encumbered video
3) iPhone App Store has closed ecosystem with infuriating approval process
Now, let's peel back the bullshit and look at the reality of the situations:
1) Before the iTunes music store, the only way you could get music legally on the internet was a $10 a month subscription to the Real Player music store. You did not own your music and you could only play it on a number of devices. Concurrently, many music publishers were trying to develop technological means to prevent users from taking music from CDs they had purchased and ripping them to MP3's.
Overall, I rate that as a win for consumers. A double win considering the later removal of DRM from iTunes music.
2) Before the iTunes video store, you could buy a few DRM encumbered videos from Amazon (pretty sure they were the only game in town at that time). Some of the current stores for digital video don't even allow you to view video on a device different from the one you purchased it on. There is still not a really great source of High Def video.
Overall, I rate that as a neutral to slight win for consumers.
3) Before the iPhone App store, the only way you could get an application was through a carrier approved store. The apps themselves were 99% garbage and if you changed phones, good luck transferring them. With the iPhone App store, there has been a cambrian explosion of mobile software. Despite the denial of apps in several specific categories and contentious policies regarding duplication of built in software, for the most part there is an app for that. The best part though is that applications do not depend on carrier approval for the most part and handsets are free to transfer across networks provided they are hardware compatible. I would like to remind you again that before June 2007, this shit was fantasy.
Overall, I rate that as a win for consumers.
This is simply, and provably, untrue. I had an eMusic account several years before iTunes existed. It has always distributed DRM-free MP3s.
2) Before the iTunes video store, you could buy a few DRM encumbered videos from Amazon (pretty sure they were the only game in town at that time).
I don't know about this, as I'm not a big movie/TV watcher. I'll leave it for someone else to debunk.
3) Before the iPhone App store, the only way you could get an application was through a carrier approved store.
Demonstrably untrue. There was a thriving and open application market for Palm devices, Windows mobile devices, and others, long before the App Store. The Sidekick had a similar marketplace model to the App Store and a similar approval process, and it was in place for many years before the iPhone. Pretty much all smart phones allowed installation of applications from third parties before the iPhone and App Store. The success of the App Store, for Apple's bottom line, was the primary motivation for several other vendors introducing similar markets.
But, I wasn't talking about iTunes (though there are probably things to say about iTunes, I don't really know enough about it; as I mentioned, I've been an eMusic user for many years, and have never wanted anything iTunes had to offer; besides that iTunes doesn't run under Linux, so I can't use it). I'm talking about specific negative things Apple has done for openness and creativity in the technology world with the iPhone and the iPad, which is the subject of all of these rants.
The iPhone and iPad are the most tightly controlled ecosystems in their respective niches (if we count netbooks and other tablets as in the iPad niche, which I kinda think we have to, for now). This is a bad thing.
And, I was saying that the kind of apologia you're using is enabling Apple to do these bad things. One shouldn't apologize for bad things Apple has done by presenting the good or neutral things Apple has done. We know that the closed nature of the iPhone/iPad and the App Store ecosystem is bad for developers and bad for tinkerers and would-be hackers. We should call them on that bad behavior.
Praise them all you want for other behaviors, but don't use it as an excuse for the bad things they do.
But, I'm not really talking about iTunes. I'm talking about the hacker culture and the chilling effects of the closed iPad/iPhone ecosystem. I just couldn't let an utterly untrue statement go uncorrected. But it's not really the point of my rant.
The original statement simply wasn't "utterly untrue". Sorry. I hear where you're coming from.
Actually, this isn't true. While it's now much easier for consumers to install software and for developers to get paid from software, the actual process of getting an application on a phone is much harder.
I wrote little cardcounters for poker in highschool to run on my WinMo 5 phone. Compile it with the C# compiler for ARM, and e-mail a little exe to my phone and run it. No fees, license agreements, provisioning profiles, etc. involved.
I think the whole point is that the $99 and having to use Apple's development package and going through Apple's approval process is an impediment to development. You can't write an app for whatever you want (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/19/banned-iphone-apps-...) because Apple censors App development. True open source should be open. Iphone and Ipad are not truly open.
1. Great docs on the API including tons of 3rd party sites and books
2. A straight-forward way of getting the app to a store
3. Integrated payment
4. A market
With my other phones, I guess I could have created the app, and used it myself, but the extra incentive of making a few bucks (and that's all I made) was enough to get me to actually do it. I have lots of things I like to tinker on, so it's about prioritizing.
Also, I don't understand what the issue is -- if you want to put an app on your own iPad/iPhone, you can -- just get a developer cert and have at it. You don't need appstore approval. You are in a sandbox, but it's a lot more permissive than a web app is to the browser on your PC, and no one's claiming that that is an impediment to tinkering.
When I learned to program, it was at night after my parents went to bed and using qbasic (I'm young); they wanted me to pursue more noble endeavors like athletics.
If I had tried to explain to them that I needed to pay $99 in order to learn something that they didn't want me to learn to begin with, how do you suppose they would have reacted? Yes, there is an emulator that you can run apps on, but where is the wonderment in that?
I remember how excited I was when I figured out how to make my qbasic programs dial a phone number using the computer's modem...that was AWESOME! This sort of thing won't happen on the iPad. Yes, there are people (people who are already developers) who get excited about it, but to a kid, it is a black box.
It's not that people are upset about the iPad specifically, it's that they're upset about the direction that it is nudging computers.
You can download and use, if you have Mac, Xcode for free, only having to pay the $99 if you want to load your app onto the device. I'd say this compares pretty favorably to the dev tool pricing of old.
About the only /practical/ argument I see here is that you can't program an iPhone or iPad using the device itsself, but that's not even entirely true - there are web sites out there that let you code in web technologies from a browser (hrm, maybe that's a business idea - code iPad web apps from the iPad Safari...).
"If this was any time after the 80s, the BASIC that the machine came with was /not/ the same thnig that was used to make professional programs. A C compiler or assembler would cost you more than $99 in today's money."
"only having to pay the $99 if you want to load your app onto the device. I'd say this compares pretty favorably to the dev tool pricing of old."
You have to pay 99$ per year. What dev tool pricing "of old" had an annual license fee of 20% of the device cost to load your program onto your device?
To be clear, I'm not saying things wouldn't be better if this was all free of charge, or that Apple's tight grip on the platform is great for society (I think that's a different argument entirely). I'm just saying that the argument that everything was better and more accesible to new users in the old days is a bit of a 'rose tinted spectacles' one.
But they do. They tell me what I can not do and they will use every resource at their disposal to make sure that I don't.
I'm a helpless tinkerer.
3) Before the iPhone App store, you could get applications freely without any problem on the Treo or even on windows mobile...
Good lord, ya' crybabies, just vote with your dollars. Apple is not beholden to us in any way and nor are we to them.
So let's not just focus on the theoretical-hacker-kid-who-will-now-never-learn-to-program, because they're not the only type of person affected by these devices. Are many people's days just a tiny bit happier because they have their iPhone? Yes. (And many people's days are happier because they have a phone that is much better than it would have been had the iPhone never happened). And that should matter too.
> Something important and valuable is indeed being lost as Apple shifts to this model of computing. But it’s a trade-off, because something new that is important and valuable has been gained.
The trade-off here isn't a "you can't have it both ways" type of decision. It's a business decision by Apple to only allow apps through the AppStore. The iPhone and iPad could be just as user-friendly of devices while remaining open.
[ As a side note: Comparing the 'openness' of the web app angle for the iPad/iPhoneOS is a bit disingenuous, because you need to have hosting ('in the cloud' or not) to deliver such an app. You didn't need to have that 'back in the day' when you were creating BASIC apps on an Apple II. A better solution to 'openness' would be to just charge the $99 for the devkit and allow apps to be installed outside of the AppStore. ]
Comparing the 'openness' of the web app angle for the
iPad/iPhoneOS is a bit disingenuous, because you need
to have hosting ('in the cloud' or not) to deliver
such an app.
I'd argue that the very "closeness" of App Store is the reason there are about ~150 000 apps available. We see many crying how closed Apple is, but how many of those whiners would actually go through the process of getting the infrastructure in place? App store takes away the boring part and lets you concentrate on your app. And let's not forget all
the free apps hosted there. How much would it cost to self-host a popular free app?
Less than $99 a year? Including your time spent managing the infrastructure?
"closed Apple" is just another rubberstamp along "overpriced Macs" which means very little. It's just a different model and it does not make it worse, even some don't like it. There are other platforms to choose, go ahead and tinker. But whining is easier, I suppose.
Contrast with Android, which has a market with the same advantages you list (infrastructure, payment processing, search for apps, etc.), but also allows users to install apps from other sources if they so choose, at their own risk.
Note that I'm comparing the two models, not the execution - I think Apple still has superior execution, even if I don't like the model they chose.
They don't. Unless you buy an Apple phone. So if that's a problem for you, don't buy an Apple phone.