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).