Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
New iPhone Agreement Bans Flash-to-iPhone Compiler & Others (daringfireball.net)
525 points by swilliams 2543 days ago | hide | past | web | 480 comments | favorite

Getting away from the frenzied rhetoric, my opinion is that what Apple really wants to prevent is people releasing multi-platform compilers. So taking Flash as just one example, if I can build one app and the compiler can make me an iPhone executable, an Android executable, and so forth, Apple don't want that.

In my experience so far with such "cross platform compatibility layers," they always produce results that water down each platform's individual strengths and differentiations. And of course, instead of the developer being locked into the phone platform, they are locked into the compatibility layer's platform.

Adobe's Flash compiler is a classic maneuver to "commoditize your complements," as Joel put it so well. Apple don't want to be commoditized, especially if it means having apps that don't take advantage of the iPhone's strengths.

Adobe want to lock developers into Flash and commoditize everything else as Flash-delivery devices. Apple want to commoditize applications and lock developers into their APIs.


If the cross-platform experience is subpar, Apple should just let these apps fail in the market.

"If the cross-platform experience is subpar, Apple should just let these apps fail in the market"

Perhaps, like Nintendo, they learned the lessons from the collapse of the home video game market in 1983. When Nintendo was contemplating developing the NES, they took a deep look at what had caused the collapse. What they concluded was that the main cause of death was the market being flooded with too many crappy games.

Originally, if you wanted to write, say, an Intellivision game, you went and got a job with either Mattel or APh Technological Consulting (the company that did the hardware design, system software, and many of the early games for Mattel). If you wanted to do an Atari game, you went and got a job with Atari.

The games at this time were all pretty good. A consumer could go out, buy a game based just on the information printed on the box, and go home and be pretty sure they'd have a good experience.

As time went on, a few more companies joined the party. Activision and Imagic, for instance. These companies were started by people who had worked for Mattel or Atari or their contractors like APh, and generally produced quality games.

A consumer still could be confident that plunking down $40 or whatever for a new game, based just on the box description, would be a good move.

More time passed, and companies that had little or no connection to Atari and Mattel jumped in, using information gleaned by reverse engineering the consoles and system software. The information was not always complete, and they didn't know all the tricks and techniques we authorized developers knew to squeeze greatness out of the hardware. They produced a lot of crap games.

Consumers now found that spending $40 on a game was a big gamble. They had to work to get good games--be aware of brands, read reviews. They stopped buying--all games, not just the bad games.

Nintendo's conclusion was that their new console must be locked down. Only developers that Nintendo approved would be allowed to produce cartridges. This way, they could ensure that quality remained high, and get the now shy consumers to come back and give games another change.

It clearly worked--and consoles have been locked down ever since, and the console game market is huge.

This is exactly what I thought the original app approval process would be for: an Apple "seal of quality". That would be a fine trade off for users -- they may only get the approved apps, but at least they're screened for quality.

However, that isn't what the approval process is. There are literally thousands of crappy applications that were happily approved and clogging up all categories in the app store. It seems non-trivial app rejections are not done on behalf of the user but are done solely to protect Apple's own interests. Remember when a bunch of high-quality Google voice apps disappeared from store? And that's just one example, there have been many more.

And now they're rejecting apps not based on their quality, but based on the programming language or development environment used to create them. How is that at all relevant to the user? This is entirely about protecting Apple's own interests and the comparison to Nintendo's lock down of the NES is not applicable.

> This is entirely about protecting Apple's own interests and the comparison to Nintendo's lock down of the NES is not applicable.

What I don't understand is how this isn't anticompetitive behaviour. By creating an app store and lock-in for application vendors, Apple become the only provider in the market. They now appear to be leveraging that monopoly to restrict another market, that of developer tools, to their commercial advantage and at the expense of a competitor.

I'm not a lawyer and don't live in the US where presumably any legal action would be brought, but can someone please explain to me how this isn't black-and-white illegal under US law?

Because they don't have a monopoly on smartphones. They control their own platform, but as long as there's a reasonably competitive smartphone market out there, it's not illegal.

But aren't there really three markets here?

First, we have the hardware, and as you say, Apple is certainly in a competitive market with its iPhone offering.

Then, for each type of hardware, we have the software that runs on it. Anyone could write software to run on Apple's hardware, but because Apple lock down the phone and run the only app store in town, they have a de facto monopoly on the supply of software to iPhone users.

Finally, we have software development tools. Again, anyone could write tools to help software developers using Apple's hardware. Indeed, according to recent reports connected to this story, many people have, from Adobe's Flash CS5 team to fans of Haskell.

Again, I'm no lawyer, but I would expect that Apple would be perfectly within its rights to lock down the software that can run on its device, but would not be allowed to use that power to unduly influence the secondary market of how that software can be made.

In all likelihood, Apple would argue—successfully—that the market should not be defined as the "iPhone software" market but as the "smartphone software" market, at which point they no longer have a monopoly and are no longer subject to anti-trust scrutiny.

What gets interesting is when/if Apple's dominance continues to grow to the point that the "iPhone software" market is effectively the "smartphone software" market. At that point, the DoJ and/or FTC will almost certainly decide that many of these policies are anticompetitive and initiate some sort of action to remedy the situation.

So in some sense, Apple needs to worry about becoming too successful: it is only because they haven't achieved total dominance that they can get away with being so ruthless.

>> In all likelihood, Apple would argue—successfully—that the market should not be defined as the "iPhone software" market but as the "smartphone software" market, at which point they no longer have a monopoly and are no longer subject to anti-trust scrutiny.

"Apple responsible for 99.4% of mobile app sales in 2009"


... it doesn't take a Phd to acknowledge that the AppStore IS the mobile SW market - thus - i would rather disagree that Apple argument SHOULD be successful in case somebody (or some agency) should bring a legal challenge to the new draconian policies - which are obviously abusing Apple dominance ...

the question for me is more technical = who can bring such a legal challenge? can developers do that? can users do that? or only a govt. agency can ... in which case - considering the influence and connections Apple has with Washington - that might not happen ...

would it be possible for developers to team up in class-action suit based which could then trigger a govt. investigation?

OK this is a common failing in minds of laymen..

The fact that 99.4 cents of every dollar spent "after the hardware purchase" goes to apple platform.. doesn't make it a monopoly.. it merely means that it is the most successful add-on market..

A good example for comparison.. is a bit old, but illustrates this particular point beautifully.

The fact that more companies are interested in producing add-on stuff for a product and that consumers are more interested in BUYING that stuff.. doesn't mean that a company is anti competitive/antitrust regulated/a monopoly..

Volkswagen beetle aftermarket parts spent some 30+ years as the king of aftermarket parts .. everything from "third party" replacement oem style parts (stuff that matched the original but was cheaper for whatever reason) as well as stuff that essentially completely changed the product into something else (dune buggy conversions, engine swaps, totally different interiors, etc)

Was VW a monopoly because for 30 years 4 out of every 5 dollars spent on "aftermarket parts" was spent on Beetle bits? no and no one ever thought to consider or call it one.. it was just a hugely successful model that didn't change every 11 months, and therefore was a fixed point in space for manufacturers to target.. but more importantly CONSUMERS WHERE BUYING.. as opposed to your avg Ford/GM/Chrysler buyer who for the most part do NOT just go out and buy total conversion kits/hopped up engine parts.. there where many manufacturers who made parts for various successful models such as muscle cars over the years, and still do.. they didn't cry about antitrust because VW add-on makers made more money, nor did they cry that VW should change the way they made the beetle so that "beetle engines" would fit in any car (or vice versa)

There is NO ONE who could bring a class-action and win, and there is no way that adobe could sue and win either.

Because "customer choices" when they have real choice, do not make a monopoly, rather removing customer choice creates a monopoly.

you raise an excellent point and explain it very well with your VW example -

but still it seems the aforementioned laymen had the right intuition - as the appstore draconian policies are finally being looked at by regulators ...

"According to a person familiar with the matter, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are locked in negotiations over which of the watchdogs will begin an antitrust inquiry into Apple's new policy of requiring software developers who devise applications for devices such as the iPhone and iPad to use only Apple's programming tools."


> the question for me is more technical = who can bring such a legal challenge?

Presumably Adobe are the most likely candidates who also have serious legal firepower.

Anyone who buys apps would have standing, imo. but the developers/dev tool makers might have a better chance. Hell, if you go even farther, you could say other smartphone makers have standing - but they'd have to make a different kind of challenge.

This is a chicken-egg situation. Apple has Apps, so more people buy iPhones than other phones. with Adobe's dev tools, devs could make apps for more than one platform - that is a threat to apple. When apple shuts this down it is an anticompetitive act against other phone makers. Because if devs could put apps on more than one platform, then other platforms would become more appealing.

'Software that runs on the iPhone' is, in the end, too narrow a window to consider for antitrust. If the iPhone were the only smartphone game in town, then the situation would be different, but as things stand, it's not.

Apple's market is one of their own making, and is in fact something of a submarket. They control the platform, period, and when you agree to the terms of their developer agreement, you agree to be bound by them, so you are subject to the same rules as everybody else. They don't have any market monopolized, they merely have their corner of the market locked down.

and they aren't locking in any body. You don't forfeit rights to your source code, you're welcome to write some crossplatform app using some shared code library you build in-house. You just have to build apps natively, rather than use some watered down piss poor Common language that breaks standards on all platforms. This is the same reason adobe apps suck on macs. They have tried to abstract away the os from their applications to the point where they don't look, act, or function properly on any platform. They look like ass and run like ass on everything .

Adobe apps function great on windows and better than Macs on linux... have you ever considered the fact that your overpriced mac is what sucks? no - cause Jobs told you it was Adobe's fault.

There are so many flaws in this reasoning, I don't know where to start.

#1 - Two of the worst carts preceding the '83 crash were E.T. and Pacman, both developed and produced by Atari itself, not these mysteriously inferior 3rd parties you're alluding to. And how many games has Apple, who logically has the most know-how on the platform, produced? None.

#2 - You're making an oranges to apples comparison anyway. The video game market was not crashed by the availability of cross-compilers or tools that lowered the bar of entry. Similarly, Nintendo did not solve the problem by restricting what tools developers could use. They solved it with a strict editorial process.

#3 - Video game production in 1983 required producing and marketing physical goods. It relied on predictable "hits" just like AAA game development to recoup the considerable outlay required to get these games in front of consumers in the first place. iPhones games are virtual and the marketing for many of them non-existent (simply because I can't spend $0.25 CPC on Google trying to sell my $0.99 app). Additionally, there's a long tail of developers creating a more robust landscape of content. There can be tons of failures and still leave plenty of room for successes. Just look at how many games on the iPod have made it big. Many of them came from virtual "nobodies".

#4 - In 1983, there was no manifestation of "wisdom of the crowds" to guide any consumer purchases. Word of mouth was about it. Today, at Apple's scale, one can find dozens of opinions about the quality of a game that only 0.01% of total users may actually purchase.

Many of these problems continue to persist in the locked down AAA console world that you seem to be so fond of. You know, I can accidentally buy 50 terrible iPod games and still spend less money than I would have spent accidentally buying 1 terrible PS3 game.

Referring to your first point, Apple has released a game for the iPhone: Texas Hold'em.


Though I have not purchased this game and cannot comment on whether it diminishes your first point.

Poor comparison. All you need to be an authorized Apple Developer is $99. They aren't really trying to lock down the developer market, only the developer-compiler market.

And what if I don't want to write in one of the languages mentioned?

Then don't, thank you!

Sure. But it seems silly from Apple to restrict all iPhone developers to a (very) short whitelist of languages.

Howso? They've spent the money and the time to create a great platform. It seems well within their rights to dictate a lot of the rules around what goes on the platform they created.

And as mentioned above, they dont have a monopoly in the market so, from Apple's perspective, 'if you don't like it, there are other opportunities' ... developing for the bberry :)

"They've spent the money and the time to create a great platform."

They've spent some money and time, and they have taken a lot of other people's work: Mach, gcc, Smalltalk, BSD, etc.

"they dont have a monopoly in the market"

That's not so clear to me. I own an iPhone and an iPad even though I think they really suck technically. But there is content available for them that simply is not available for other platforms.

Great platform it may be, but this rule is insane. Who cares how the compiled code was produced? What matters is how it runs on the platform.

OK. I come from a different background of programming than traditional consumer apps. In my "normal" job, I get a very small white list of programming languages. "C", "C++" (but no templates, multiple inheritance, no operator over-loading), "ADA", Assembly. Within each of these areas I am not allowed specific features. Recursion. OMG. I did that once and never again. Big nono. Even a simple things like:

   if (A && B)
   else if (A && !B)
is not legal as you can not fully test 1 of the four branches in the "else if()" case. Even "default" statements in "case" statements that can not be executed (because the switch statements cover 100% of the available options) can be an issue.

What I am getting at is, with programming there are rules. The rules Apple have are actually very minor and very easy to stay within. If you program to make political statements, choose Android or BB or Symbian. If you program to make money, pick the platform that will do that and follow the rules. If it stops making you money, move on. If you don't like the rules and don't want to abide by them, move on.

You can enjoy programming while still staying within the rules. Sometimes, it is part of the fun and challenge.

Programming isn't a game for many people, it's a profession. The time you spend on learning their platform and languages are sunk costs, and you need to recoup them through money-making products. By restricting developers to their APIs and languages, they are trying to lock in developers and users.

Apple is trying to accomplish the same kind of lock-in that Microsoft managed with Windows. And we better nip this thing in the bud, because Apple would screw us even worse than Microsoft has.

Learning another language is an overhead, an investment you make that increses your skills and broadens your abilities. If you want to write applications for iPhone OS and take advantage of the huge market that Apple has created, then learning Objective-C and Apple's IDE is an investment in time that you need to make. It's just what you need to do. Many developers from other backgrounds have already started programming for iPhone OS and met with great success. If you're experienced in object oriented program design, or C++, then the transition isn't that difficult.

As a long time Mac user, I've experienced a lot of Mac applications that have been straight ports from other platforms and they are, for the most part, pretty awful. I can understand from this why Apple wants its developers to code iApps natively.

This 'lock in' makes perfect sense for Apple in other ways too, ways in which end users and developers will benefit. Imagine that Apple allow apps to be ported from Flash. Developers would stop coding natively for iPhone OS as they would be able to create their apps in Flash and distribute them as web apps at the same time, reaching a greater audience. Then add in Android, Blackberry & other export options for Flash. Soon enough Flash would be the only IDE in use and platforms such as iPhone OS would be at the mercy of Adobe. If Apple were to introduce new features and efficiencies to their hardware and APIs, they would have to wait for Adobe to implement them in its Flash translation layer before the features would really become available to end users. Even the most willing and motivated of developers would not be able to get around that, they would have to wait for Adobe. So in the end, Apple would lose sales and credibility, and good developers would get screwed because they wouldn't be able to out pace their competitors in updating their apps to take advantage of new features. Everyone becomes 'locked in' to Adobe. Given Adobe's poor history when it comes to timely bug fixes and support of its OS X applications, I do not think that this 'lock in' would be a nice place to find yourself, whether you're Apple, a developer or an end user.

If you don't like Apple's stance then develop for other platforms and buy other products. But if you want to be in on the action, then accept the rules as they are not unreasonable and will ultimately benefit everyone.

> Within each of these areas I am not allowed specific features. Recursion. OMG. I did that once and never again. Big nono.

We tend to frown on loops and mutating variables.

Oh, I never questioned their right to do so. My comment was meant literally: They look silly to me.

It doesn't look silly when taken in context with the rest of their strategy of controlling the entire toolchain to maintain consistency across apps. That strategy becomes harder when everyone goes off and uses different tools.

It's the same strategy that they've always used with their software/hardware combination, which has worked beautifully in the case of the mac.

Oh, I also don't want to question that it may be a good strategy.

"Apple responsible for 99.4% of mobile app sales in 2009"


check the numbers - AppStore IS a monopole ...

"The games at this time were all pretty good. A consumer could go out, buy a game based just on the information printed on the box, and go home and be pretty sure they'd have a good experience."

Rose tinted glasses. They still managed to release buggy, downright broken software. It wasn't about quality, it was about control.

You don't achive quality without control

you don't achieve quality with anti-competitive terms of use, either.

We're well past that anyways. 185,000 apps? What percentage of those are complete and utter crap?

A lot less than if Apple had opened the floodgates.

Conversely, how many apps have been made worse by archaic restrictions by Apple?


we need to realize that iphone OS is actually just that...an OS. What you are saying is kinda like saying that we would be incapable of finding valuable web apps or locally installable apps on windows/linux/whatever OS we use on our PC. Because there are no restrictions there and never have been.

1. It's only a matter of time until apple realizes this model is not good for anyone. 2. Android (who by the way is powered by the very people who specialize in filtering out the crap on other platforms) will dominate the next few years.

Nowadays Developers produce their games for all consoles e.g. FIFA 10 is available on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Wii, DS, PC, Mac and amazingly mobile too..! You can be sure a companies like EA will not align themselves exclusively to any particular platform! What happened in 1983 is irrelevant in today's market. Apple is trying to control the mobile telecommunications market and put their competitors out of business... However what will kill the iPhone 4G is the free apps for ads idea. Free apps will not compensate the user's suffering incessant advertisements being shoved in their face every time they open an app. Apple are loosing the plot!

"However what will kill the iPhone 4G is the free apps for ads idea."

That idea started 1.5 years ago. Now you get Google ads in your free apps. Now, as an option, you can have iAds or Google ads. So all Apple did is open an option (read choice) for developers already doing ads in apps.

Choice is now bad? Or is it good?

Couldn't you have a non-fascist solution to this?

Do something like Reddit, Digg, or Hacker News... let people guinea-pig apps and upvote/downvote them and sort in each category.

Because those sites aren't full of bullshit...?

(HN is, IMO, above the rest but it's certainly not immune to mob rule)

Besides, with the money involved in high rankings you'd have to constantly police the system against gaming, which would be, I'm guessing, more work than policing the submissions directly a they do now.

It'd be an issue, but it would be relatively easier for Apple to protect against gaming than for Digg or Reddit. Unlike Digg, Apple can get access to unique hardware identifiers. They also have some experience with DRM. Is it possible to get around that? Sure, but it's much harder than simply gaming IP addresses and cookies.

Except most iPhone apps accepted to the store already are utter crap.

Great post, but I'll disagree on one point.

(First my credentials: I was an avid player of Atari 2600 games at the time, so I remember the period in question first-hand.)

My take is not that there was a decline in quality due to any sort of technical reason, it was due to a drop in the quality of the gameplay design and playtesting. That, in turn, I'm guessing was due to the number of Atari 2600 game creators increasing past the threshold of GOOD game designers & playtesters available. After all, it was a relatively new field at the time, video game design. Perhaps it reached a point where there were say 50 new games being "designed" concurrently but there were only 20-30 good designers. Whereas before, it was under that threshold.

This was my theory because I've heard your position stated a few times in the web, but from direct experience I remember it being more a drop in the quality of game play rather than in code quality or technical polish.

I think that it is entirely a myth that the video game crash of '83 had anything at all to do with a decline in the quality of games. The fact that a couple of anticipated games (ET and PacMan) turned out to be dogs is coincidental. There had been dogs all along. What actually happened was that the videogame fad had finally run its course. For a while, videogames were novel enough that consumers were willing to buy just about anything that they could play on a video screen. Then, as invariably happens with fads, they were old hat. It wasn't just console games that hit a slump--it was arcade games and computer games as well. Videogames had to rebuild a market based not upon novelty of playing games on a video screen, but upon the quality and features of the individual games.

Or just don't let "bad" apps in the store -- regardless of how they were developed. I mean, duh. I'm having a hard time seeing how it is anything but an attack on Flash.

Apple is letting them fail in the market. On their competitors' devices.

Don't worry, if you savor the cross-platform software experience there will be plenty of options for you. At bargain prices, in fact.

Yeah, that's true. iPhone users don't even want Google Voice.

oh yeah? how about calling europe with one click on ATT networks for 2c a minute?

... please - you Apple fan-boys should try things before jumping to conclusions ...

i dumped my iphone for a nexus specifically for Google Voice and Apple draconian control on the platform ...

Sarcasm, my friend. Take a look at my post history and call me an "Apple fan-boy" again...

If Apple's strategy of toolkit lockdown (to improve app quality, performance, and differentiation) is overly draconian, their platform will fail in the market.

Apple don't believe in a free market / free competition. If they did, then they wouldn't have an App Store.

I don't think there's any government intervention forcing people to work on (or not work on) app store apps.

I think apple is doing well in the (presumably free, it's way more open than other places) market, because they are very good at negotiating their property rights.

I guess it's just fashionable to imply the "bad guys" are "communists"

Do you mean the FCC approval process for new cell phones is a massive barrier to entry? I'm sure it's not free, but i can't imagine they'd want more that a few dozen phones and $100k of studies. maybe a half a million?

Part of what people like about Apple's products is the inclusion of Apple's opinions. Both the App Store and the iTouch Platform are Apple products.

Apple isn't interested in proving a point about market viability, they just don't want that on their platform.

The average person's tolerance for faulty software is lower than it should be. I guess Apple wants to raise expectations, so that people are locked into the iPhone. ("OMG, that android app has ITS OWN KEYBOARD!!!111".)

Of course, this is why I don't use C, C++, or Objective-C. I'm always a little surprised when someone writes code in one of those languages that actually runs.

Yeah, the Linux kernel, Mozilla, Chrome, Safari, Emacs, vi, Mac OS X, iPhone OS, Windows 7, Google search, Apache, Nginx, the very first web browser, et cetera are utter crap.

As an Emacs developer, I can tell you with 100% confidence that the C part of Emacs is utter crap.

The good news is that there isn't very much of it.

The rest of the software is buggier than it should be. My web browser has remotely-exploitable security holes. Random drivers in Linux randomly regress as the version number increases. OS X and Windows 7 crash for no reason, and don't support enough hardware.

The only program I use regularly that doesn't crash on me is Xmonad. And guess which language that isn't written in.

Xmonad claims to be about 1000 lines of Haskell. I'd say that's equivalent to about 10-100k of C.

It doesn't crash because it's simple, not because it's written in a good language.

Well you'd probably have 100X as many bugs in a C program (it takes 10X as many LOC, and I bet bugs scale with N^2), so Haskell is a bit better, but language isn't as important as scope. Big programs have more bugs.

Actually, it doesn't crash because a theorem prover was run over the code to prove that it wouldn't crash. I believe some obscure stackset crashes were preemptively found this way.


It's not just lines of code; Haskell's BDSM-oriented type system is often infuriating, but it's remarkably good at catching bugs at compile time. Haskell programs tend to have a surprisingly small bug rate once you can actually get the things to compile.

While I agree that C (and C++, and Obj-C) have some problems that make it really easy to write completely buggy software, I wouldn't go as far as blaming programming languages for buggy apps.

Plus, I don't understand why people keep praising XMonad for its lack of bugs. It has some bugs that are quite annoying (eg. stuck windows that don't close, locked with only one tile on a screen) -- on the other hand, I've never seen a bug in metacity.

To be fair, the part of Emacs implemented in Lisp looks nothing like poetry. I wouldn't qualify it as ``utter crap'' but it's a lot messier than I thought. Some of the default packages looks like straight C code translated verbatim to Lisp.

My take is that even if it's easier to screw things up in C, that doesn't mean that if you program in a higher level language, you'd automatically produce elegant code.

Emacs Lisp is a mess. It doesn't even have lexical scoping.

The development version does.

I can tell you, though, that this doesn't really matter in real life. The compiler warns you when you use a free variable, so it's pretty hard to accidentally misuse a dynamic variable. There are pathological cases that people point out, but these rarely matter in elisp that most people actually write.

Programming Emacs is a little different from programming other systems, but once you use its idioms instead of the ones you took from your favorite language, everything works quite nicely.

Oh, it's not so much a problem of using a free variable by accident--where the compiler can help you out--but of not being able to use proper closures.

I agree that emacs lisp can still be used to productively write software. People put up with much worse things.

Not sure why this is getting upvoted (and the grandparent downvoted), because it is completely besides the point. I'm always amazed when any of my code runs, but the more so when I write C. Apple is strangely not supporting any modern language that reduces the chance of subtle and hard-to-fund bugs.

"Of course, this is why I don't use C, C++, or Objective-C. I'm always a little surprised when someone writes code in one of those languages that actually runs."

Why does it really scare me when people that claim to programmers say stuff like that. If what you say is true, that you are "surprised when someone writes code in one of those languages that actually runs.", then you really should not be programming.

Enjoy being Apple serfs, developers! The guys over at Titanium [1] can give you genuflecting lessons if you need.

Apple has definitely crossed-over to the dark side. After 26 years of being a fanboy, they've finally exceeded what I can stomach.

[1] http://developer.appcelerator.com/blog/2010/04/apple-4-0-and... [2] http://ipadmakesmesad.blogspot.com

You're beholden to whatever platform you develop on. That's simply the way it always is.

The web isn't appropriate for the apps I want to write yet, so I can't develop on a perfectly open platform and expect to find customers. And I can't reasonably create my own platform and create the software I want to create.

So I have to pick a platform that can reasonably support the apps I want to write and that gives me a reasonable chance to make a living at it. I'm going to be somebody's sharecropper.

When I have more resources, I can consider supporting multiple platforms to mitigate my risk. But until then, pointing out that we develop at the pleasure of the platform holder is redundant and the differences between more- and less-restrictive platforms is splitting hairs.

This change doesn't just cover Flash though; it also hits all of the Mono cross-compilers (and Scheme, and everything else that happens to cross-compile).

I can't see any way that this turns out as remotely positive for developers.

Apple has consistently demonstrated that they don't care about what developers want. They seem to believe, and have so far been shown to be correct that if they can get the consumers, developers will follow. The only way I can see this changing is if a killer app that consumers want becomes available on another platform and not iPhone OS due to Apple's restrictions.

I think you're forgetting that it's also really fun to make an app that has the best "look and feel". I can make things that make people say "Wow." A lot easier on the iPhone than on Android.

Developers will make apps where it is fun to make apps. I haven't had any horror stories with the app store, so it's still just more fun to make iPhone software than anything else.

The developers who make apps 'for fun' aren't producing the blockbusters that make the appstore so important to the iPhone.

No, but they do make up a fair number of apps that populate the top 100 lists for various categories (even if they're not runaway hits on the most profitable list).

You really think developing software in 25 year old technologies (Objective-C, Cocoa) is fun???

Coming from a lot of .NET at work it's been fun to learn something new, and play around with a new environment (Xcode). So yeah it's been fun. I don't know how long it will last, I've also not written anything terribly complex, so perhaps the pain points will surface more over time.

Handing my phone to my friends and telling them I made what they are looking at has been really fun. Also, telling anyone with an iPhone how they can just search the app store and find my little app is way fun. My Mom installed it even!

> Apple has consistently demonstrated that they don't care about what developers want.

The facts disagree.

The App Store model is unusual and it is not perfect. Few developers have any experience with Cocoa or Objective-C. Developers must use a Mac. iPhone software only runs on the iPhone and is not easily ported to other platforms.

Despite all of that, Apple has attracted developers to the App Store and the iPhone in numbers nobody would have predicted. Meanwhile, all other mobile platforms are rushing to duplicate the model.

It would seem Apple knows exactly what developers want.

No. Apple knows exactly how much developers will put up with.

Google, Microsoft, RIM, and Palm are wishing it was that easy.

Apple is operating under an effective first-mover advantage. That conveys a lot of benefits that let them get away with a lot of abuses. If/when the other players in the market catch up, that won't hold quite as true.

"It would seem Apple knows exactly what developers want."

Aye, money outweighs freedom even today.

Money is freedom.

Depends how many strings are attached to it.

Apple only cares about their image. They make that "glow" effect on produvt to attract costumers, and developers go wwhere the people are.

It doesn't cover any Scheme that compiles to C since that would be indistinguishable from regular C/C++ code, at least on Apple's side.

Say, one wants to develop a touch user interface for a visual programming language for music composition and the core engine happens to be written in Common Lisp (say, something like PWGL or Open Music) - why can't I have that in Lisp? It is compiled, native and would use the Cocoa libs.

There are not only consumers which want to download ebooks with ads. There could be an area of innovative and experimental use where Universities want to develop novel applications - applications that might be written in Smalltalk, Lisp, Haskell - or any other language that can compile and is not Objective C. In many cases the innovation lies in the core logic and the innovative use of a touch screen. Why should I develop my core logic in a way that it is tied to the iPhone or iPad (assuming that the iPad will get the same developer agreement) and where I have to use a relatively low-level language like Objective C.

It is one thing what you assume Apple's target (Adobe, cross platform frameworks, ...) is and another thing who else is also affected by these clauses the developers have to agree to.

The university example is a good one. I wonder if they will be covered by wireless app distribution, which will bypass the app store. From Apple's iPhone Enterprise Developer page... "Deploy proprietary, in-house applications to authorized users in your company, the iPhone Developer Enterprise Program is available to companies with 500 or more employees and a Dun & Bradstreet number.

Because companies with fewer than 500 employees have no need for custom apps...

Nah, that's bullshit. Applications written in a higher-level language and compiled down to Obj-C could be a lot better than apps written in straight Obj-C, for the same reason that applications written in Obj-C are better than applications written in straight ARM assembly.

It's not just with the consoles. I used to develop Lotus Notes applications. The problem with Notes was that the barrier to entry for developers was too low such that it hurt the platform, and it made it hard to distinguish good developers and good apps from the chaff. When a bunch of unqualified developers fill the world with junk it gives the entire platform a reputation as being junky.

I now develop iPhone applications, and I personally agree with Apple in this respect. If you want to develop iPhone applications, spend some time and become proficient with the tools.

And, @raganwald is correct that it's still lock-in, it's just a matter of where the lock is.

Your lock-in argument is wrong. Of course there are always dependencies. But it's important to be able to choose which dependencies are the right ones for your application. Mandating a particular API isn't just lock-in. It's lock-in lock-in. You're signing away the right to choose the right tool for the job.

Apple should filter by quality, not by what language/technology was used to make the app.

It makes more sense to reject Fart apps -- or least the 100th Fart app. It does not make sense to reject apps written in Python or Clojure, for example.

To put it another way: they are disproportionately turning away the better quality devs, not the lower quality ones.

Democracy is similar. I used to have a nice life as a french king, until the stupid peasants took over. Now everything is fucked. I feel so locked in.

Performance is an easy excuse. A terrible programmer can do worse than cross compiler. If Apple do care about the so-called performance, they should judge apps by their quaility, not the process of how they are created.

Adobe's response, from a game-theoretic perspective, is to adhere to

   3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs
   in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use
   or call any private APIs. Applications must be 
   originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or 
   JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit 
   engine, and only code written in C, C++, and 
   Objective-C may compile and directly link against
   the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link 
   to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation 
   or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).
by simply generating Objective-C as their Object Code. Developers then compile this for their target platform (iPhone) and stay within the bounds of 3.3.1. I see Apple is trying to put a kibosh on this with the "originally written" clause, but, that will be a stretch to enforce.

If i understand "originally written" correctly, doesn't this also kill objective-j and GWT?

Yes, but then the app still wouldn't be "originally written" in Objective-C.

And how could this ever be proven?

Apple just sues you, if they suspect, and the court will find out.

No, Apple rejects your app from the App Store until you can prove it's provenance.

OK. So it's even easier for Apple.

This is addressed in the original post. As of now, projects that were made other the the approved ones would have obvious file layouts characteristics.

Theoretically, you could make it hard to tell the difference, but in practice its pretty easy to tell machine generated from human written code.

You don't submit your source code to Apple as part of approval.

Yet! Wait for it serfs, wait for it!

Unfortunately rewriting a cross compiler takes more time than rewriting a sentence in a license agreement.

Agree, from my experience any good software for a platform should take as much advantage of the platform as possible. And then work around platform limitations. Any cross-platform apps look non-native, missing subtle platform conventions, and ultimately feeling awkward on such a distinctive platform as iPhone OS. This seems to be a consistent line of Apple's, ultimately aiming to project the "quality" image of the platform, and not diluting the valued brand. This is the same line as John Gruber suggested pondering the purge of overly explicit apps. It did not come down to purging crapware developed natively with Xcode yet, but with thousands of apps in each category, the purgatory moment in one form or the other (e.g. if not purging outright, but subjectively separating into premium and "others" stores) probably is not too far ahead.

It's not just about quality.

As with everything Apple does - there are company-centric motives, which have been neatly balanced against a set of consumer-centric motives.

Apple is run by smart people, who realise they have a dedicated following. By making the 'we don't want to diminish the quality of the App pool' argument clear, they allow their ardent followers to do battle for them.

The corollary of this is that Apple ensure that their platform receives the developer investment it requires, enabling the company to become a permanent fixture in the mobile market.

If Flash developers didn't have to make a new investment of time and money to learn their platform - what would stop this pool of developers from leaving Apple's side tomorrow?

They want full control over what is allowed _into_ their market, and they want a dedicated team of developers who won't walk away.

If Flash was allowed, neither of these requirements would be assured.

Sure, 'multiplatform compiling/targeting' is one thing. But banning non-approved languages is silly. Even apple is funding projects like RubyCocoa and bringing Python compatability to the Cocoa API. If somebody wants to write an app using CocoaTouch but finds Ruby, Python, Lua, or Mono to be a better fit for the project or their own capabilities than Obj-C, why stop them from doing so? If the apps still have to interface with Cocoa somehow, how are such app's any more/less native than one written in Obj-C? Such a policy does nothing to stop somebody from writing a cross-platform targetting framework that uses Obj-C. The language is not the real issue.

Think OS/4, think opening up multitasking to 3rd party apps, perhaps thats why they are being so anal about how apps should be written, if they are planning to make changes to the low-level libraries to support 3rd party app multitasking then they are going to want to make sure that 3rd party apps are linked against them.

This argument makes no sense. These third party tools are using only the publicly documented Apple APIs. They are simple doing so through an intermediary layer. It has nothing to do with using private or low level libraries.

what does language have to do with that? you can include your own C libraries within your project if you want, the language is no different. if people use other language interfaces to Cocoa, like RubyCocoa or MonoTouch, what is the problem, they are still using apple's libraries. the language has nothing to do with any of that.

Yeah, but there's no actual multitasking in iPhone OS 4. Just some 'background' system services. Apps cant run in the background. And the clause doesn't say "you need to link to our libraries", it says "you need to author your app in [languages] etc".

Imagine if Microsoft had come out with an App Store for Windows 7 and decreed that the only way to run apps on Windows 7 was to get them from the Microsoft App Atore. If you wanted to create apps for Windows 7, you'd have to use Visual Studio and a Microsoft compiler, you'd have to pay an annual fee to be a an accepted Microsoft App Store developer, and if you wanted to charge for your application, you'd have to pay Microsoft a 30% commission on the sale price.

People would lose their damn minds.

If you're the dominant OS in the smartphone market or in the desktop market, where's the difference?

Apple has to unlock the iPhone and let people get their apps from wherever they want.

If people want the security of knowing an app is Apple approved to work and play nice with others on their systems, they can go through the App Store.

It's not their rules, but the fact that they remove choice from the market for both consumers and developers by FORCING themselves into the consumer/developer relationship as a restrictive middleman.

But Apple is NOT the dominate OS.

1) Symbian 2) RIM 3) Apple 4) MS 5) Android

Android and MS might have swapped in the last month or so. They are close. As for choice, consumes don't seem to mind. You have tons of "choice" on Symbian, Android and WM for app selection. The AppStore is beating them all.

Developers will go where the money is. It is a job. You play by the rules or move on. Simple really.

I can understand Apple wanting to lock down their property to make sure what comes on it is quality and secure. Look at MS, anyone can develop almost anything on it, and what we have is a massive bug and virus trap.

BUT... Microsoft was given into trouble by the competition commission over the tight reign it had on Windows. Now what are we saying, Apple should be allowed to get away with near enough the same things Microsoft got fined for? just because they are Apple?

If Apple just lets this happen, and lets iPhone apps be developed on other OSs/SDKs/whatevers, then if a developer wants to produce a piss poor version of something then let them. Apple can then say yeah or nay when the App goes into the Store. They are still going make money, their phones are still going to be bought in droves.

Open the doors Apple, you might let something good in.

well i cannot agree with you on the apple/mircosoft issue. Microsoft has an near monopoly or defacto monopoly if we call it that.

What MS decides on does effect the whole market. What Apple decides affect the Apple users only. But me as an Apple user Is affected of all dumb anti standard decisions MS have done. My web experience is crippled and I have to deal with name extensions and even more so now in OSX 10.6.

Under MacOS9 i only had to know if a file was going to be used on a windows machine and then add the proper extension in the name. But it's uggly and wrong.

I agree with Apple, 80% of apps are crap and are deleted after a few weeks, thats not a good app and not how apple what to be seen as having a junk yard of crap apps ? Would you delete Photoshop after a couple of weeks ? No, why ? because it's a good bit of kit, and Apple want to keep that inline with there image.

I am not a developer but have been investigating starting a development company, I have seen 1,000 of bedroom chancers on the fourms....

Yeah man lets make an app and cash in, lets make an app called twitbook, it's a cross between a twit and a book we will get 1,000 downloads a day and we will spend it all the profit on weed, yeah man good idea ! Ok lets start... we can't code but we can use 3rd party apps that even my mum can use and we are done.

Yeah I am exaggerating slightly but thats how the market is going, it means that the app store is constantly full of shite with shite apps and will get worse if these 3rd parties are allowed to run riot to let any Tom Dicks and Harrys to release apps, which will happen if it's allowed to. Apple does not want to encourage that and nore do I, I want quality not quantity apps.

This is a new phenomenon for the world so Apple are bound to make mistakes on how they operate it and they have realised this is a bad thing that is happening to THEIR brand.

I have seen so many good serious developers with good apps, they complain they are not getting seen on the app store and above is the main factor for that, piles of it.

These guys can code with their eyes closed and yes the 3rd parties apps maybe an inconvenience but I am sure they can work round it and actually get the coverage and sales they deserve.

In the short it's not good but the long of it is that it will be good for the people who know what they are doing hence brining us apps that don't sit on our phones for a few days and get ditched.

Why are people screaming about this ? It's all about money on both sides, not future development of the up and coming kids, end off.

If I rent a room in your nice house and start pissing on the carpet would you want to boot me out ?

As far as i remember it was always Apple being victomised by other OS and software companies, how the tables have turned and good on em.

I'm sorry but that is a terrible excuse for what they've done. As a flash developer hit hard by the recession, having another (strong) string in my bow was essential for survival. Like others in my industry, I don't have time to completely re-train every time a new product comes onto the market. Being able to produce for a different device using my current skills is a blessing. Apple should be thoroughly ashamed with themselves and I for one will be approaching the Monopolies Commission regarding this.

While it sucks when times are tough, if you want to develop for a new platform to make money, then make and take tge time necessary to learn the platform and its tools.

Your complaint here is disingenuous. When you learned to be a Flash developer, did you complain that Macromedia should be ashamed cos they didn't build their tool in HTML & CSS?

If you want to develop for the iPhone, then develop for the iPhone.

I sympathize with your economic plight. But the fact that you're having a hard time making a living using Flash doesn't give Apple the obligation to provide you with a development platform.

Since the iPhone has less than 20 percent of the smartphone market, it seems unlikely that the Monopolies Commission will be interested.

Apple isn't obliged to actively deprive people of development platforms either.

I thought of doing the same thing with my Pl/M experience. Decided to learn new tool sets/languages instead:-)

You will find your self in serious trouble moving forward if you tie yourself to only knowing a single company's toolset and tying your future to the well being of that companies tool set. Especially Adobe's; a company as fickle as Apple.

What you're saying makes sense, but at the end of the day - it doesn't matter what Apple wants to do, what matters is what they have actually done.

If they wanted to eliminate cross-platform apps, they could have just as easily put something which specifically mentions that in their terms of service. It wouldn't be any more ridiculous than the conditions they have put in place right now.

These new terms of service effectively bar tools like Monotouch - a development environment that exclusively targets the iPhone OS.

This is seriously putting me off. I was not thinking of a third party approach, but it limits me when I want to use my OWN scripting language when developing apps.

Does this stretch to build scripts??

Technically yes, but it's not like they would ever know.

It's pretty obviously an out clause so they can kick Adobe in the pants, and possibly prevent app-mills from popping up all over, completely saturating their approval process for the app store. I doubt they'll go after an individual developer who isn't obviously using some mass-market code generator to pump out apps.

There was a sentece from Apple, Apple aproved tools could be used. Don't excpect Flas to be one of them and I totally hate Flash.

When they produce less buggy Flas that doesn't have memoryleaks enough to kill a new computer with 4GB ram Core2Duo only running outlook and Google maps in IE7. Then maybe I'm also intressted to run Flash in my phone. ATM flash is blocked in my Nokia.

Okay, so cross platform compatibility layers water down each platform's individual strengths and differentiations. What happens when a small team of developer needs to re-write their application to reach more devices? While the platform with the most users will probably get the most polish, the rest will probably flounder at v0.9. I guess Apple could be counting on being the platform getting the attention. Let's see how that works out for them in the next 5 years!

Apple is really trying hard to enclose and seal a closed garden environment, that much more lucrative for them. HOWEVER, 98% of video seen is currently viewed via flash. If Adobe have a cross compiler that works and apps can be translated WELL onto the apple platform, why should apple care? if they dont work, the user will decide!! Is this Microsoft all over again? And is it non-competitive? A legal suit looms over apple's head. One I suspect they will lose.

MonoTouch isn't really a cross platform toolkit. It is not providing a replacement API for Apple's APIs just allowing them to be called from C# and allowing you to use extra code you have in C# that Apple by definition doesn't have.

the Modern C# language provides many advantages over the Objective C used on the iPhone which does even have garbage collection.

If they intend to succeed in the Enterprise they should of encouraged MonoTouch not squashed it.

How can anyone now develop a business and future with Apple when it could all be taken away at a moments notice.

I presume all these other programming environments allow one to target the iPhone/Pad/Pod using a PC. Is Apple, with all their (new) clauses, trying to say in a round-about way "If yer wanna target our iDevices, buy a Mac"..? After all, Mac sales is where they make the most money.

20 years ago I used to rave about how Objective C was 10 years ahead of anything else out there. Unfortunately it's now 10 years behind C#....

This is a great point.

They dont want anyone peeing in their pool. They purge the pornspam apps, they purge the rss-reader apps. I personally think this is a good thing, because developing a native iPhone app in C/C++/Objective-C means you will more likely have a vested interest in the iPhone/Mac platform other than to make a quick buck with a flatuence app. At the very least, you're a more dedicated developer.

"At the very least, you're a more dedicated developer"

What a rose-tinted way to describe lock-in.

This is the reason why Apple still have better quality freeware,shareware applications on Mac than Windows have commersial application.

It was more difficult to program for Mac than for DOS. Hell I can make a decent DOS application. But in my younger years doing the same on Mac was way more troublesum.

Ok I havn't programmed Cocoa just done som experiments, made de calculator and currency converter Apple has as tutorial. And yes it simplifies a lot.

But simple programming comes with a cost in quality. Takin the step from DOS programming to program for Apples System 1-MacOS9 was huge. Eventloops, memoryheaps etc etc. Those who know programming had little problems. Those who made hello word apps had huge problems, aka me.

The greater challange there is to programming the greater programs will de creators do.

this is all about controlling the quality of applications, its is good, congrats to apple, they want to controll the quality of their applis by forcing people to code in a low level structure, they are right, high level abstractions when badly coded are a mess.

you can't seriously argue that it's "quality" that is driving this decision. I've downloaded far too many apps that turned out to be absolute garbage to believe that it's a factor for which apps they approve. it's about controlling the apps and the devs, not the quality.

I don't like this at all. Maybe they only meant to hit Flash, and maybe not, but as written this is in direct opposition to one of the most important principles of software development. Apple themselves must have benefited countless times from writing software in layers. But no layer above their layers is permitted?

I wonder if the open source world can successfully fight back, by making compilers that generate code the app store police can't tell from hand written.

I wonder if the open source world can successfully fight back, by making compilers that generate code the app store police can't tell from hand written.

I think the answer is definitely yes. Apple's software engineering is not that great. There is always some hole in Safari that allows root access to the entire device. They can't get atomic syscalls working in OS X. Does anyone really think they can recruit and afford people that can tell computer-generated software from hand-written software?

My guess is that this is a scare tactic to keep anyone thinking of supporting two platforms at once to "not want to risk it" and go for the iPhone instead. More users, only so many hours that the developer can be awake, safer to just go with the iPhone. (Of course, you are already risking it anyway; use the wrong multi-touch gesture -- app denied. Use a Google service -- denied. Do something useful that Apple wishes they thought of first -- denied. And people wonder why there are so many fart apps...)

My next guess is that this tactic will be successful. People seem to adore doing whatever Apple tells them to do. It frightens me.

What I've learned from iPhone vs. Android (among other things) is that people will pick pretty and mean over average and nice.

I am not sure that it'll be exceedingly difficult to determine if an app was compiled using another tool, and not written in Objective-C.

I'd expect many languages and frameworks are going to have many very signature functions and patterns of code. If Apple decides to enforce this, they won't have a hard time.

On top of that, if they miss it, and let a bunch of apps in, then later on determine those apps were crosscompiled, they can revoke the current versions and block that developer...

But of course, this makes for unhappy users too. "I just lost the $5.99 I paid for that app!"

NetShare users kept using the app months after Apple pulled it. I think people finally stopped using it to tether because an update finally broke it, not because Apple deleted it off people’s phones…

Easy - they can and should just refund the money if they take the app away.

> They can't get atomic syscalls working in OS X.

Have you filed a bug?

Nope. I enjoy watching users of proprietary software suffer. Since I don't use OS X, why would I care, anyway?

Even if it can, that's not the point.

Is this the kind of company you want to build software for? This is bullshit. Do I really even want to play along anymore?

This company makes great products, but they can do completely dickish things.

Even if they can tell the difference, C code is C code. It shouldn't matter if it was generated so long as it uses kosher API calls. Doing so would be no different than enforcing which editor I can use to write code in.

Even if they can, the policy is going to be a strong deterrent from using those tools. One would rather be less efficient than risk getting caught and being rejected (maybe even blacklisted?) from the App Store.

Yeah, the "no compatibility layers" bullshit is just that, bullshit.

I don't really have a politically correct way to say this: What a horseshit maneuver by Apple.

I have been a very loyal mac user for years and love it, but I'm seriously considering going back to Linux. I am not a free software "zealot" and don't mind some closed-ness, but this is getting absolutely insane.

Enforcing which LANGUAGES can be used on a platform?!? Insane!

Edit: I've been looking at these guys:


(I don't work with or have any vested interest in them, but they look cool.)

Boycotting the Mac platform (which is pretty much free of any such absurdity) doesn't make a lot of sense to me. That's where Apple is doing things right. You should of course, shun iPhone OS devices if you feel this way.

The system76 laptops are probably generic machines from Clevo, Sager or some such with a custom badge. Alienware used to do the same thing.

If I had to guess, the iPhone and iPod Touch are seen as more successful endeavors to Apple than the Mac has been of late. So I wouldn't be surprised if Apple's iPhone policies start leaking their way onto the Mac too.

If you believe Trefis, the iPhone makes up a little over 50% of AAPL's value as compared to ~20% from the Mac line, so anyone that thinks of it as more successful is right: http://www.trefis.com/company?hm=AAPL.trefis&hk=34d9a244...

I really hope that this ridiculousness doesn't start to bleed through - the MacBook Pro is pretty much the only laptop I've ever considered usable for development, and I don't know what I'd do if I had to abandon it...

Get a Sony Vaio Z, and install Lucid?

Yes, second Sony laptop ind the last 6 years (so i had the first one 5 years, and it's still in use without any hardware problems!). Displays are top notch, as well as the keyboards on the new one, best keyboard i've seen. Of course that's purely subjective ;)

Sadly, an IBM Selectric keyboard won't fit in a notebook ;-)

I specially loved the one that came with the 3278 terminal. And the clicky ones, like the ones that came with the 3290.

Nowadays, when on my desk, the netbook is hooked up to a Microsoft natural keyboard. I would like the Sun keyboard, but Sun won't ship it to me in Brazil and local dealers want... US$400 for it.

That's what I'm worried about. The instant that happens, I'm gone.

I think I'm already gone :( I am now seriously considering mowing down my iMac and MacBook and putting Linux on them. (Not that this makes a lick of difference, but it will make me feel better)

It does make a difference. Linux needs more users, both active and passive. I'm actually surprised how many people that would be the target audience for Linux have come to use OS X instead.

User interface, user interface, quality of hardware, and user interface.

"Quality of hardware" boils down to user interface... just at the hardware level.

Their UI ability is the secret of Apple's success. Everyone else treats UI and design like an afterthought.

Yes, but it's the content creators that are developing the apps and making the iPad/iPhone a more valuable platform.

Boycotting Apple's content creation tools and consequently not developing for the iPad/iPhone is one way to send a message.

I've been wondering about this a bit lately. I've so far chosen not to support the iPhone OS for the reason you mention, instead favoring Android.

However, I'm ultimately interested in serving my application to the largest number of people, and it seems clear to me that the App Store is the best way to achieve that today. So, do you cave in and develop an iPhone version? Or, do you stand by your morals, and, in turn, limit your audience?

If you're already developing for Android, stick with what you're doing and you'll soon be serving your app to a much larger market. Android growth is pretty strong: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-20001788-265.html http://www.pcworld.com/article/193653/google_android_hits_ma...

I wonder if Leo Laporte is going to be right about how he thinks that will Apple eventually stop making macs so that they can focus on more closed or controlled platforms like the iPod, iPhone, and now the iPad. They seem to be pretty good at making money with the closed systems.

Maybe the next iBook will just be a foldable iPad with the same closed OS.

Maybe someday but for now Mac sales are going up -- not down. I can't imagine they'd walk away from that market. I could see the two platforms merging in certain ways. For instance if you added a multi-touch screen to the current MacBook, retaining the keyboard/touchpad, you'd have an interesting platform. You'd have desktop multi-touch apps very similar to iPad apps but you'd also be able to use traditional OSX apps. There could be some system wide multi-touch features along the lines of what they're doing with the multi-touch trackpads already to enhance these applications.

I predict the differences will shrink and disappear. The desktops and laptops will get touch input and iPhone apps, and the closed platforms will round out in specs and features.

The hardest thing to me about ditching Mac would be that Apple is the only company capable of doing a user interface.

ALL other user interfaces by ALL other vendors suck.

For some reason, no human beings on the entire planet other than those that work at One Infinite Loop in Cupertino are capable of doing a UI.

This is a massive exaggeration. I went from OSX to Ubuntu and I am more productive on Ubuntu in interface terms. The dock is very silly and graphical when you have quicksilver or gnome-do. Chrome is a better browser and browser UI experience than Safari in my opinion (and lots of people like firefox and opera more). The Finder vs Nautilus differences aren't big enough really, there are pros and cons to each. Apple stuff is well designed until you want to go past just cookie cutter customizations and then the openness IS the UI because I define it to work how I want to.

The same caries over to other things. Sure the install and uninstall of applications on OSX is a great UI. But apt-get just seriously leaves it in the dust. The problem with linux was never that it had a bad UI or was too customizable. The problem with linux was actual hardware bugs in drivers, lack of office, lack of flash, lack of games. Which have mostly been addressed asides from games (which is a sore point for Apple too). UI is far too overrated over actual features.

And it's all based on a myth. Steve Jobs ringing up SUN over their looking glass and threatening with UI patents is just ridiculous. As are the claims to Apple fame with interfaces taken from Xerox.

So yes, I agree Apple are very good, possibly the best at UIs. But my points are 1) UIs aren't as massively important as people say, 2) Apple's "innovations" have been overrated 3) your statement that "no human beings on the entire planet other than those that work at One Infinite Loop in Cupertino are capable of doing a UI" is just ridiculous.

As much as I agree with the "it's not that bad" opinion, I can't understand why do you say "UI is far too overrated over actual features". No "standard user" will want to know about apt-get. They have synaptic and others. Normal users don't want to use the console at all. Command line is good for developers and power-users - and that's a minority. Majority wants to work based on recognition, not recall because they don't care enough to remember things.

I agree, that's why Ubuntu comes with the "Ubuntu Software Center" which is basically a frontend for those tools my grandma could use.

What Apple really has down about UIs is sparseness. "Exterminate features." I loathe clutter, both in real life and in technology.

When something on a mac looks like it should be able to be frobbed, dragged, etc., it usually can and in exactly the way that it seems like it should.

This is not the case on Windows, Linux, or anything else.

For me, Apple's UI advantage comes from two things:

1. It's way the hell better than Windows. No competition here. Windows is horribly clunky, and if you disagree with me, try using both for a while.

2. It has less of a tendency to plunge you into pesky little technical details than Linux. I personally don't mind fiddling with a config file every now and then, and the more recent Ubuntu versions are getting surprisingly good about this, but Linux still demands more effort to get a good, productive environment going. And Flash support still sucks.

Of the two, I prefer Linux in terms of usability. I doubt most non-technical users would agree. (Chrome, though, is just unambiguously better than Safari in every way. I use both regularly and don't want to dislike either of them.)

I can't stand the Mac UI. In every way that it's better than Windows, there's some way that it's worse. The dock is a terrible interface element and having a menu at top the of screen may have made sense when screens where 512×342 pixels but makes little sense with giant resolution screens and multiple monitors.

I'd say the all user interfaces from all vendors suck, including Apple.

There’s a reason it’s at the top of the screen, and it has nothing to do with screen resolution. Try looking up Fitt’s Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fittss_law).

Essentially, the menu items are infinitely tall hit targets… no matter how fast the mouse moves towards them, one can never overshoot them vertically. Menus in Windows and most *nix environments require both horizontal and vertical precision.

Furthermore, why are you bothering with the Dock when Exposé and Spotlight (or Quicksilver, Launchbar, etc.) offer great power user alternatives?

Personally, I still can’t stand how Windows and Linux make no distinction between applications and windows.

> There’s a reason it’s at the top of the screen, and it has nothing to do with screen resolution.

I understand the original reason for it. However, hitting the menu is an extremely large distance from what you might be working on now. I'm typing this on a multi-monitor machine -- this app is totally self-contained on one monitor. Why must I move my mouse across two monitors just use this app's menu?

> Personally, I still can’t stand how Windows and Linux make no distinction between applications and windows.

I can't stand how you can close all windows on a Mac and still have the process around with the only indication being a slightly difference in the menu bar. Amazingly confusing.

Now this may be personal preference but it still shows that the Mac GUI isn't some ultimate model of perfection that everyone agrees on.

It's only true that you can't overshoot them if your trajectory is perfectly vertical. With a diagonal trajectory (which is usually the case), you can still overshoot the item you were aiming for.

Also, Fitts' Law says that the time to select a target is proportional to the distance and the size of the target. Putting the menu on the edge of the screen makes the effective size of the targets bigger, but in some cases it also means that they are much further away.

As I type this, the menu bar is about 4x further away than the top of my browser window.

"Essentially, the menu items are infinitely tall hit targets…"

And they violated that rule in the dock, unless that's been fixed in the last couple of versions.

Although historically I have always agreed with you, I dare say Microsoft is starting to figure it out. Slowly but surely. Win7 is almost a pleasant experience.

I just got my new laptop yesterday, and while some of this is surely due to the SSD or the New Laptop Smell, Windows 7 is EASILY the best experience I've ever had with a Microsoft product. The new taskbar looks wonderful, the design is up there with Apple, and everything is so freaking fast it is unbelievable.

I booted my other laptop to transfer some data over and waiting for Vista to load to the point where I could interact with Chrome was like pulling teeth.

Windows 7 is usable for two reasons:

1) They removed much of the "originality" that they did from Vista.

2) They copied more stuff from Apple, and a little bit from the Linux ecosystem.

Oh... and what's their fetish with that sickening shade of teal/blue? Yuck! It looks like smurf vomit.

I doubt that Microsoft has copied anything from the Linux ecosystem. And with Linux innovations such as moving the window buttons around for no reason and upsetting their users, I don't see why they would.

Linux fans need to relax a bit and realize they're number three for a reason and work harder not complain harder.

Edid: I'm sorry, do I sound bitter? Maybe I've grown disillusioned with the difference between the reality in the trenches and fans extolling the features of product X, where X is any of Linux, Mac, Windows, iPhone, etc.

I've started using it this week. Alt+tab becomes more and more broken with every release. There was a time when excel was the only application that didn't behave properly.

I honestly wonder what you mean by Alt-Tab being broken? Surely it does switch windows, doesn't it?

The stack doesn't work consistently.

In the old days, when you minimised something, it always went to the bottom of the stack. (Except Excel, which had a silent entry in the stack when you had more than one document open. Outlook has been bizarre for a while, too.)

In one of the NT4 service packs (I think) this changed so that if something minimised to the status bar (rather than the task bar) it worked differently. I'm not sure what Vista did, but XP was bearable.

Now there are lots of variables - different apps respond to being removed from focus differently, I've read that the number of open applications affects stack response to minimise also.

Windows used to be very friendly to rapid keyboard-only operation. You could drop things in the start menu and activate them with two keystrokes. Alt+tab was dependable. No longer.

Hmm. I changed the theme to classic mode and it seems to work like I expect it to.

    ALL other user interfaces by ALL other vendors suck.
I don't understand your enthusiasm for aqua (I've got a mac) but I understand what you're sayin in a general sense because I came to a similar conclusion about ten years ago.

If this is a big thing for you, I'd recommend the path I took after Be folded. Accept that complex user interfaces have bad tradeoffs (platform dependence, inflexibility). Find a full-screen tty you like (I use iterm because with apple+key + enter it goes full screen and gets rid of aqua) and return to living in the habitat of your ancestors!

A few things are inherently visual: paint programs, 3d games and movie editing. Everything that is not can be done effectively on the console. These interactions are often far superior to GUIs.

There's a learning curve. But once you're over it you'll have enormous power at your disposal and won't ever get locked in again.

Two things make this far easier than it has been previously:

1) Python. The standard library contains everything you'd want to do to push a system around. You can hammer out powerful tools in python in a casual manner and at a speed that has not been available to mere mortals before. You can get it on a variety of platforms.

2) Web browsesr. It's now easy to get high-quality web browsers on any platform you'd want to use. Where you do need to produce a GUI, you can knock up a trim webapp with html and forms.

> The hardest thing to me about ditching Mac would be that Apple is the only company capable of doing a user interface.

Some systems have a CLUE (Command Line User Environment).

Boycotting the Mac platform (which is pretty much free of any such absurdity)

For now.

That's the thing about Apple's capricious, passive-aggressive contract language... you have no idea, and no way to even guess, if your business model will be the next one they target for termination.

Ubuntu will run on most laptops, including mac books, so need to go with a special vendor.


I actually went the opposite route and installed mac os on a netbook.


I have a Starling Netbook from system76. Nothing to write home about, but I've had few, if any real problems with it.

It's a little flimsy, physically.

And I am a proud free software zealot, so I moved it to debian.

Hmm... if it's flimsy I probably wouldn't like it. One thing I don't like about Apple hardware is how you have to treat it like a family heirloom or it turns into a scratched up mess. Anything less hardy than that would be unusable.

Toughbooks are also promising, but they're light on the specs... could someone please make a durable and well-specced laptop?

I wasn't particularly gentle with my MacBook Pro and it never got scratched or damaged.

I moved to a Thinkpad (from a Powerbook) two years ago and couldn't be happier. Ubuntu just works and the hardware feels more solid that the Powerbook did.


IBM laptops aren't anymore - bought by Lenovo a few years ago.

That's strange, because I also have a System76 Starling and it seems very sturdy to me. I even dropped it once and it was none the worse for wear. It's been a very hardy and well-functioning machine for me.

I have a lap top from them. It works well.

Well, you're on the best way of becoming a "free software zealot". See, free software zealots by and large are what they are because they invested a ton of time and effort in some platform only to have that destroyed by a stupid or greedy management decision.

It's almost like refusing to accept patches that are written in anything but vanilla C. It's almost like they are claiming if you can't at least code in C you probably aren't smart enough to submit patches anyway.

> I am not a free software "zealot" and don't mind some closed-ness

Maybe we were not that zealot after all when we free software "zealot" said that proprietary software allow their owners to treat their users badly and that eventually, this happens to every proprietary software. Just saying. It amazes me how surprised users of proprietary software are every time they get screwed by their masters even though this has been happening for the last 30 years.

There are products and there are platforms.

Products are OK to be proprietary as long as the value provided is top-notch. Sorry, but I don't see profesional designers using Gimp over Photoshop.

Relying on a platform for your existence is a different story. But as a business you need alliances with other businesses, and not just in software. And everybody can pull the plug on you, that's why reputation matters and in many cases it's all you need.

About free software, programmers need to eat too. Myself I use open-source everywhere, but for the last 7 years I've been doing consultancy work (turn-key apps that are never released in any form or web services that put a lock on your data ... the worst kind of closed systems). And until you'll teach me a business model that would empower me to work on "free software" while providing for my family, then I'll keep doing it.

Until then it's only fair I get paid for my work, that's why I consider the free software philosophy as extremist bullshit.

My entire business (and livelihood) is centered on configuring and adapting free software to fit the needs of businesses. I contribute along the way because what one person needs, likely many need.

Free software is an infrastructure. I drive on it daily delivering value and getting paid.

You're wrong: every decent product is a platform. Photoshop and GIMP have plugins developed on top of them, and professional designers are very much reliant on "photoshop the platform" for their existence.

lets see theres training, and consulting, theres offer the free version, and charge for a more robust paid version, theres pay for customization and don't forget ads. There are many ways to have a business model around "free software". Red Hat, Canonical, and Google are just some of the companies that have found valid business models around "free software".

> Red Hat, Canonical, and Google are just some of the companies that have found valid business models around "free software".

That's a fallacy.

The majority of open-source sponsors are selling closed systems or services to sponsor their "free software" involvement. Google doesn't have a business model around "free software". Neither does IBM or Sun.

I'm also not Mozilla and my apps would probably never get in front of 40% of all Internet users. Even if I'm that lucky, it's probably not going to be a desktop app that's used to search for stuff.

To get paid for customizations, your software also has to be really popular for businesses (consumers don't pay for that, they either endure it or search for something better).

Did I mentioned that I don't live in Silicon Valley nor in Cambridge, but in an Eastern European country? So training is off.

I already mentioned consulting, but then I would be a hypocrite if I promoted the free software ideology while working on the worst kind of closed software, wouldn't I?

Anything else?

> > Red Hat, Canonical, and Google are just some of the companies that have found valid business models around "free software".

> That's a fallacy.

> The majority of open-source sponsors are selling closed systems or services to sponsor their "free software" involvement.

Red Hat, Canonical and a large chunk of IBM GS wouldn't be able to sell those services with proprietary products - the OSS licensing of various Linux OSs, Apache, etc. are the basis for them being able to have an audience to sell their services.

I agree with you re: Google. They're not a service business and could have written their own OS or used a proprietary one and not affect revenue.

I agree with you re: Google. They're not a service business and could have written their own OS or used a proprietary one and not affect revenue.

Not sure what licensing fees would have done to their overhead costs in the early days.

> Did I mentioned that I don't live in Silicon Valley nor in Cambridge, but in an Eastern European country? So training is off.

Maybe you should have a look at this again... I've been on a trip to Romania for training (about architecture of some specific piece of OSS) at some point. As long as you can provide good training, it could work for you too.

Does Canonical make a profit? A business model that loses money isn't really all that valid.

And the software that makes Google their money is proprietary, unless you can show me the link to the AdWords server source.

Phusion (makers of Ruby Enterprise Edition and Phusion Passenger) definitely make a profit.

I think they basically just do it through consulting + a little support and training. (See http://phusion.nl/services). But since they wrote Passenger and REE, I'm sure they can command a very high rate.

Thank you, I agree completely and you've said it much better than I could have.

This is human nature, it's not related to source openness. Open source would just allow you to start over after you have been treated badly if you have the needed development skills (hello Mr. Drepper).

It's also worth noting that the users aren't getting screwed at all by Apple, only the developers and only a small fraction of them.

I don't get it. You don't have to "start over" you continue from where you left off. Only some members of the community need development skills.

Secondly, users are harmed by these actions as there will be fewer developers making apps for them, plus, Apple are potentially stifling innovation.

It's on purpose. Apple willfully sacrifices innovation for control and UX. Users accept it for UX.

You do realize that your decision is purely based on feeling and irrational? NEVER make decisions when you are emotional unless it's a life and death matter and you must act immediately.

Yeah, I really thought all the hysteria about how Apple will crush small children's hopes and dreams by distributing a closed platform that does not allow tinkering was off base until now. This has much more the flavor of intent to put a stranglehold on the device above and beyond handicapping their competitors.

With much deliberation, I had got to where I could accept the ipad--window on the future of computing--being a walled (and barbed-wired, and guarded) garden. I was planning to get a 3G iPad if I have any money left after taxes, and a WiFi one for my wife soon. But this... I think this is farther than I'm willing to go. And even if they were to back down on this requirement (as they did on the original NDA)... I'm rambling, but I feel hurt by this.

Just make a webapp :/ all the freedom you need.

Freedom to have no access to the camera or microphone, for example?

It'll get there... You can already have access to the multi-touch stuff via javascript.

idk, I've never thought the appstore was anything but a stop gap personally, and developing for it a crazy risk.

It won't get there before the iPhone is obsolete. You really think that web apps are ever going to get access the microphone or the camera?

Also, a stop gap? I think there's an app for that.

"Mobile" is what will become obsolete. These new devices are handheld computers pretending to be phones. Someday they will embrace this reality, and inherit all of the progress that's already played out on PCs/laptops - browsers, flash, etc.

Handheld computers (with and without a phone) have been around forever. Apple has changed the game from that open reality to this and have been quite successful with it. You have it backwards.

Hand held computers capable of rendering standard web pages have not been around for very long, unless I'm overlooking something.

Moore's law. Even desktop computers capable of rendering today's web pages haven't been around forever. But a web browser is just an app -- and all platforms have them now. I'm not sure what point you are trying to make.

>> "You really think that web apps are ever going to get access the microphone or the camera?"

Definitely, if other phones or devices have such capabilities, and a killer webapp comes out that uses them.

If I was Apple I'd just shut the App store down to get rid of all the ungrateful developers. Sorry, but it's their show. They get to decide if you can play, and what the rules are. If you don't like it, don't play with them.

Seems like Apple thinks the same restriction applies. If you use parenscript or coffeescript (or GWT) to generate your JavaScript, you are technically violating the contract you signed with Apple.

Of course, if you didn't sign that, then you can do whatever you want.

If they started actively censoring/blocking websites that they determine haven't written javascript by hand, then that would be theonion.com territory (And the end of their sales) :)

> then that would be theonion.com territory

As opposed to where they are right now? Enforcing what higher level language you write in before it gets compiled down to machine code?

The web = open

Native apps that run directly on their hardware = closed - you play by their rules or not at all.

shrug pretty clear difference IMHO.

Yup, freedom to have: no access to hardware, no ability to do anything computationally intensive, no filesystem access, no storage, no disconnected access, ...

There is storage--and the ability to run offline--thanks to HTML5, and the same web apps will work the same (more-or-less) on Android and webOS (Palm) phones. You get a SQL db (up to 5MB), plus a persistent key-value store and a window-local "session" key-value store that isn't persistent.

But yeah, no camera/GPS/microphone/etc.

You can now get location from Javascript APIs in the safari browser following the iPhone 3.0 release.


How well does that work for gaming? I like playing around with Unity3D; I have a hard time thinking that HTML5 is going to give the same experience.

Putting aside the intention of this agreement which does seem targeted at the Flash-to-iPhone compiler, this just seems overly broad and silly from a "how things work" point of view.

Let's say I write an iPhone app originally in Scheme (like this guy did: http://jlongster.com/blog/2009/06/17/write-apps-iphone-schem...), and compile it down to C, which is then compiled to object code and linked against the iPhone libraries. At this point, the object code is the same (or functionally the same in terms of its syscalls, library calls, and general program flow) as if I had originally written it in C, except that I would have lost the unique developer efficiencies I got from using Scheme in the first place. I'm not saying Scheme is better or should be an officially sanctioned source language for the iPhone SDK. I'm just saying, where the rubber meets the road -- object code linking against libraries and making certain calls -- there is no difference to the computer what the original source was.

Seems very silly.

I had the same thought and wondered, if a developer did follow such a path, how would Apple identify that they did? I'm not sure Apple could detect that such a method was used. Although, I suppose they could ban an app even if they only suspected that it had been developed in such a fashion.

1) They may not be able to detect all frameworks, but they will easily be able to detect the top N frameworks, where N scales with how serious they are about enforcing this.

2) The app approval process is so opaque that it might be hard to tell if they were banning you due to this reason (note I hear things have improved, so this point may be out of date).

Say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss. The corporate pissing matches have started in earnest...

When Alan Kay said Apple would take over the world with an iPad, I don't think he realized that eToys or anything like eToys would never be allowed to run on the device and that a majority of the apps will probably have commercial spots embedded within them. Actually it reminds me of "educational" tv all over again...

I'm starting to see the point of people who complain about the consume vs. create nature of the iPad...

> Say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss

Who do you mean by this? Microsoft doesn't make sense in this context.

"a majority of the apps will probably have commercial spots embedded within them"

The majority of apps on the app store already do. Free apps, ad-supported. Apple just wants the ads to not suck so much, but hey, nobody has to use iAds.

but hey, nobody has to use iAds


Well, Steve did flat-out say in the Q&A session today that they weren't going to require anyone to use their built-in services for any of that, and Apple doesn't really have a history of changing what they've said they're gonna do.

I don't know one way or the other about their history of going back on direct claims, and that would be a pretty sprawling area to get real data on. But they certainly do have a history of locking the phone OS down more and more and controlling it further and further.

I really wouldn't put it past them, and I think today's a bad to err on the side of "things won't change."

"Your contract when you buy the iPad is you're going to watch the spots. I guess there's a cetain allowance for people going to the bathroom..."

...until Apple changes its mind.

Wow, this could also ban iPhone apps from using Scheme (http://jlongster.com/blog/2009/06/17/write-apps-iphone-schem...) or maybe even model-driven tools (http://code.google.com/p/iphonical/).

Telling developers which languages to use? Might as well stick with enterprise software development, more innovation going on over there Apple!

Actually, yes. My employer caters to the enterprise market, but we use, say, Ocaml and Python, and are experimenting with Haskell.

I can think of only two (tenuously) justifiable reasons for this.

1 - Perhaps, during the beta, they want code written in C (and derivatives) to aid in debugging framework bugs. Rather than "My App doesn't WORK!!!!! (Using MonoTouch Vxxyy)", they can get a repro using a stack they know and control top to bottom. In this case, I can see it as justified.

2 - If it's specifically to target cross-compilers as a business decision, to ensure that iPhone only gets "exclusives", then I suppose it's their prerogative. It will probably backfire long-term, as their market share isn't that dominant. "Browser, Palm, Android + all else" or "iPhone" makes the iPhone a secondary port target versus a first class platform.

If it's any other reason, it is ridiculous. It makes me seriously question my upcoming Mac Pro & iPad purchases. Even though I currently develop for Mac and iPhone using only Obj-C, I can't build a development strategy around a schizophrenic "partner". What's next - documentation not written in Pages? Failure to use Steve's favourite colour in the background? It's getting... bizarre.

please try to distinguish 'cross platform compilers' from using alternate languages to write for Cocoa APIs. it doesn't matter if you're using C# or Ruby, your program is still structured around all the native APIs necessary to function. Unless somebody reverse engineers a similar platform with identical APIs (and thus, likely built on Obj-C as well) you aren't getting around targetting CocoaTouch specifically. And there isn't anything stopping anybody from releasing cross-platform-compiler 'meta platforms' which DO use Obj-C and thus qualify under Apple's new rules.

Surely there's also the approval process?

Checking an app isn't doing anything malicious may be easier if it's written with standard tools.

I don't see how. They don't ask for source when you submit your app, so it shouldn't matter at all what language you "originally" wrote the app in. This is just a bullshit control-freak move. Apple has stopped looking out for the interest of it's users and has started looking to punish it's competitors. Epic fail. <sigh>

You mean Apple has stopped looking out for the interest of it's developers... If anything, Apple listens to their users better than any of their competitors. Try convincing an average 17 year old girl to buy an android/zune over an ipod touch for her music.

I think the situation will only improve when Google actually cares about their users and less about the cool tech that comes with every phone.

This is unsavory in the extreme. I had been writing an iPhone app in Haskell, and now I have to can it? What the fuck? Fuck you, Apple! Blowhards.

Hope you guys enjoy the mass exodus of decent developers from your dumbass platform with kiddie languages.

"your dumbass platform with kiddie languages."

That's ironic.

Objective-C, C, and C++ are kiddie languages?

I seriously doubt that there will be any sort of exodus away from iPhone development because of this. Apple provides some awesome development tools, and they want developers to use them because they improve the quality of the applications that people write.

"I seriously doubt that there will be any sort of exodus away from iPhone development because of this. "

You are right, though there maybe an impact on more developers coming into IPhone Dev. That said I would be surprised if at least some developers have had enough of Apple's high handedness and move away from it, like they did from Windows long ago because of Microsoft doing evil things.

Just an anecdotal datapoint, but I for one was toying with the idea of buying a MacBookPro (though not yet an IPhone or IPad) and learning Objective C, but not any more.

Objective C on Apple is now the programming language for Orcs, working for the fulfilment of Steveron the Dark Lord's World domination plans. What does developer unfriendliness matter if you get "teh new shiny" to play with every year?

    Ash Objective C durbatulûk, ash Objective C gimbatul,
    Ash Objective C thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

Have you ever written software? You'd be surprised what isn't written in C or C++. I bet this clause disqualifies the majority of serious applications in the app store. Anything with a generated parser, for example, can now be rejected. Objective-C is definitely a kiddie language, it's highly dynamic and mostly suitable for creating a OO interface to lower-level code written in C, which is how almost all of OS X and Apple software works. I personally believe C is not suitable for writing large GUI applications in, and many people would agree. C++ is unwieldy and more difficult to map onto UIKit without it just ending up looking like C again.

Apple is telling people, "write software like this, because we say so."

My main problem with your comment was that in your anger you seemed to be acting pretty immaturely about the situation. I'm sorry for being harsh.

Yes, I'm sure it sucks. Your project is collateral damage from Apple's efforts to thwart Adobe and other makeshift cross-platform efforts that generally create sub-par products.

I'm not saying Apple's development tools are perfect or that I like Objective-C, but Apple makes it pretty easy to write great apps their way.

Easy is not always powerful or expressive.

ObjC is more expressive than you think. It has the same metaphors of duck typing that ruby/python/javascript have come to adopt. You can do mixins & monkey patching very easily with ObjC as well. I would say ObjC rates very well in terms of flexibility of development.

ObjC is definitely more enjoyable than Java or C++ and just slightly less efficient than ruby/python. ObjC feels closer to ruby/smalltalk than it does to python. If I had my choice of language, I'd probably choose javascript or ruby, but ObjC comes close in second.

Even if you hate Apple, you should consider looking at ObjC on GNUStep.

I've written an Objective-C compiler and runtime myself, so I think I am familiar with its limitations. Monkey patching is a terrible idea and you should avoid ever seeing that stuff in production. Objective-C is 'flexible' but dangerous in that it does not offer much in the way of type safety, and relies on handling unrecognized messages at runtime to deal with both unexpected conditions (exceptions) and also errors made by the programmer (type errors, undefined behavior, null objects, etc).

Objective-C has only a small fraction of the potential performance of C++ so should not even be compared with it. They are in completely separate categories. Objective-C is used primarily as a higher-level glue for routines written in C. You cannot write all of your routines in Objective-C all the way down, because the performance is dynamic and often worse than languages with smart VMs. LuaJIT, MacRuby, and several others all have better performance (in terms of function dispatch, calling, etc) than Objective-C. If you want Objective-C code to perform well, you just start using C stuff instead of Objective-C classes and methods.

I agree with you; but don't hurt your argument by saying that C, C++ and Obj-C are kiddie languages.

When he said 'kiddie' I interpreted his intent as saying there were insufficiently advanced or sophisticated. While on one hand I agree they are 'hardcore' languages (pointers, memory management, compiled, type declarations, header files, #includes, etc.) on the other there are more higher-level, more expressive, less ritualistic and verbose languages available today. I loved C and used it for many years, back when the alternatives were BASIC, Pascal, COBOL, Fortran, etc. but today when the alternatives are Python, Clojure, Haskell, etc. yes in some sense I consider C/C++/ObjC as 'kiddie' languages. Maybe 'paleo' languages would be a better term. C for OS development may still be a good choice but for applications? No way.

With Apple's change to the dev license they are basically saying, "We only want you to use paleo languages. Put away your shiny modern toys and come back to the creaky past with us."

GHC has a C backend. Just claim that you wrote that code yourself. Problem solved.

The sort of company that would restrict the original source language of applications in a developer agreement doesn't strike me as the sort of company that would laugh and applaud the linguistic cleverness necessary to justify adhering to the letter of the agreement and not the spirit.

I don't want to invest months of my life, only to be told, "sorry, if you can't prove it's C, your app is rejected. Bye."

Yeah, then stop supporting their hardware. If you just bend over in front of them, of course they're going to fuck you.

It's being phased out in the next version.

In favor of an LLVM backend; LLVM, in turn, has a C backend :P

Have you tried writing your Haskell-based app for Android? Or perhaps Windows Mobile? or Palm?

Android requires use of the Dalvik VM. Native code cannot make API calls to create interfaces etc. WebOS is the same deal, must use JavaScript and their framework for a native interface (and WebOS is a dying platform.) Windows Mobile is garbage, maybe 7 will be better, but it's half a year away and likely Microsoft will just copy Apple blindly and ban languages other than C# and C++.

There is a native interface for Android. While it isn't intended to be used for GUI development, maybe it is doable? I could imagine it could work like PhoneGap, except for C: write a wrapper in Java that exposes the required methods to C, then write your app in C.

So, for iPhone/iPad development, you can use C, C++, Objective-C, or JavaScript (4 languages).

But on the other platforms you are in reality limited (in practice) to one or two languages? I'm looking at you, Android and BlackBerry. (Windows and Palm don't really count, since nobody's writing for them).

This is hilarious. People have gotten Scala, Ruby, Python, Lua, and a whole host of other languages running on Android. At least check your damn facts before posting bullshit.


Sorry for posting bullshit.

Since I don't know much about Android, are there significant apps (in the Android Marketplace) that use some of these languages?

Between this iPhone dev license change, and your claim that folks have gotten Python apps running on Android, this is probably the final straw pushing me to jump to Android.

Who's going to know? My C happens to look exactly like what Chicken Scheme generates!

If Chicken Scheme's output is anything like Gambit-C's, that won't fly: it's a dump of internal data structures into syntactically valid C, not something that a human would write or even understand.

Out of curiosity, do you happen to have chicken scheme working on the iphone? I've been developing a 3d engine with it for the past few days with the intention of porting it to the iphone, so if you have some progress already, that would be awesome.

...or would have been, before this announcement. Ouch.

Or LOOM/Stella - Java/C++/Common Lisp - http://www.isi.edu/isd/LOOM/Stella/ -

"When we embarked on the task of developing PowerLoom® which had to be delivered in C++, we were faced with exactly this problem. Our response was to invent a new programming language, called STELLA, that incorporates those aspects of Common Lisp that we deemed essential into a language that can still be translated into efficient, conventional and readable C++ and Java code."

If everybody's C starts to look like what Chicken Scheme generates then you've (Apple) just detected Chicken Scheme.

Or I'm just ultra-productive and very helpful to The World At Large.

Isn't MacRuby sponsored by Apple? There's been discussion re: writing iPhone apps with MacRuby, AOT compilation. I wonder how that project will be affected?


It's not MacRuby, it's RubyCocoa, but yes, they have their own project using a language not included in this list. No, I'm not expecting consistency here against their own "baby", but what kind of environment does this set up? Would you even want to use RubyCocoa in this environment, much less a 3rd party language bridge to Cocoa (which is 100% targetting Apple's platform and APIs).

MacRuby and RubyCocoa are two separate projects. MacRuby is not a Cocoa bridge like RubyCocoa is. It's a complete reimplementation of Ruby's primitives in Objective C to allow you to compile a Ruby app to a double-clickable app bundle.

Yeah, the would be shooting themselves in the foot if they banned MacRuby.

'Additionally, developers may not consume energy drinks or snack foods with preservatives while developing Applications'

> Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine

Controlling programmers like this seems positively insane, doesn't it? Does this mean that games can't do scripting in something like Lua either, under the letter of Apple's law?

Games never could do scripting in Lua, since you can't run interpreted or Jitted code on the iPhone anyway.

What they are forbidding now is the usage of any third-party compilers that are producing native executables ... Adobe CS5, MonoTouch, Unity.

> any third-party compilers that are producing native executables

It's more than that. They are forbidding you from writing it in 'language X,' converting 'language X' into C/C++/ObjC, and then running that through Apple's developer tools. They state that the program must be originally written in C/C++/ObjC.

That's patently wrong.

Until now, you could link to an interpreter, as long as all the code that it running was bundled with the app as downloaded from the App Store. No code could be generated by the user or downloaded from the net, though.

A lot of games use interpreters. ScummVM is used for the official Broken Sword port, the original SCUMM engine is used in the remake of The Secret of Monkey Island, and a lot of commercial iPhone game frameworks use Python or Lua as a scripting language.

That said, I have an implementation of Conway's game of Life on my iPhone, downloaded from the app store. Life is Turing equivalent, and the user can create his own patterns. I guess the app reviewers didn't know about it (or don't care about it since the applications are very limited).

Scripting would already be covered under the rule 3.3.2, ' No interpreted code may be downloaded or used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Documented APIs and built-in interpreter(s).'

Lua is definitely out, and has been out for longer: Apple explicitly prohibits embedding interpreters, like the Lua interpreter, in your apps.

Yet Rovio Mobile's Angry Birds (#1 paid app...) clearly (there are lots of .lua files) embeds a lua interpreter.

How about the Corona SDK (http://anscamobile.com)? They use Lua, but they claim they're allowed by the pre-4.0 SDK. I don't know how it works behind the scene, but I think they were allowed because the SDK didn't allow you to load code on runtime (e.g. think about a C64 emulator), but as long as the code was fixed it's fine. It can't execute arbitrary code because the app signing process ensures that the only code that runs is the same code submitted to Apple.

Oh man, just when I was impressed with what they're doing in iPhone OS 4.0, they throw this in.

I was hoping to finally develop for the platform thanks to background services, but my moral objection is now at par with my profit motive.

um, what does morality have to do with this? Apple's rules are not immoral. It's their platform and they're not a monopoly. If you don't like it, choose a different one.

Hey lookie there, I can return this iPad still. I'll go buy a second android phone for my Development shop. Great Job Apple!

Sounds like a grea business decision

Honestly, I'm not returning it, but I hope other people do realize they have some relatively serious power over apple for the next 20 or so days.

Wow. Just wow.

I was planning on building an app in Titanium. I guess I'll wait and see how this shakes out first.

btw, at the time of writing this comment Titanium's developer center is hosed. Maybe it became self aware at the same time and commited suicide.


Same here. I've even built prototypes that I was planning to turn into full-fledged apps. Titanium had the best chance of me building apps for the iPhone. If Apple doesn't allow it, well, tough beans. Sorry users, Apple screwed you. My apps, however, will be available on all Android platforms.

Agreed -- I had just found Titanium and was gearing up to make app ports using it. Now I'm nervous whether they will be allowed.

1. Apple takes iPhone stability and security Very Seriously.

2. ???

3. Therefore, if you write native iPhone apps, you must use C derivatives that expose raw pointers and direct memory access.

Yeah, as if Flash is known for its stability (especially on the Apple platform) and security…

This affects anything that isn't C, C++, or Objective-C. Pay attention.

Yes it does. My comment was about Flash however.

you're preaching to the choir already. I'm pretty sure we're all in agreement on how sucky the Flash runtime is already.

You haven't used XCode's Build and Analyze have you?

I have, and it has some significant bugs that make it difficult to use:

- There is a bug with the compiler not properly counting references when assigning a variable that needs a release to a property marked "retain". The property will increment the reference count, expecting the caller to decrement it, but the static analyzer does not see this, and so fails to warn.

- http://www.openradar.appspot.com/7338181 - CodeSense fails to work when Static Analysis is turned on.

(DISCLAIMER: I am using Xcode 3.2.1 on Snow Leopard 10.6.3)

Welcoming explanations for how this is a good thing for Apple's end users.

The least cynical explanation -- and thus the one most likely to be put forward by Apple -- is that by banning cross-platform compatibility layers, developers are forced to focus expressly on the iPad/iPhone platform, which reduces the likelihood of platform-specific bugs and keeps the developer from cutting corners to remain platform-agnostic (such as introducing foreign UI conventions). Likewise, they can claim that by requiring C/C++ they ensure high performance and efficient use of resources, resulting in better a end-user experience.

A more cynical theory: Apple believes they have more than enough developers for their platform, and they need a way to raise the bar. Particularly, they need to limit the pile of me-too apps, and Flash's impending iPhone compatibility threatens to send nothing but.

The benefit to the user in this case is that they have less crap to wade through in the App Store. The harm to the user is that a highly desirable app does not get made for the Apple platform because the developer is put off. And that risk is spectacularly low: any popular app on another platform is quickly cloned, and any killer app that fails to materialize at all... well, the users would never know what they're missing. (The logic breaks down for expensive-to-develop apps, game franchises, and other forms of lock-in, but these cases are few; Apple can negotiate them on a case-by-case basis.)

Because the apps will be running on controlled development libraries that might be able to.... perhaps multitask in OS 4.0, remember guys this is a phone we are talking about here, not a games console, security is paramount, and apple is just trying to put the the genie back into the bottle before a mass of insecure apps are elevated up the permission chain in 4.0 to be able to operate on a par with apple authored apps.

using a different language doesn't affect security, the executable is still within the same sandbox. please read up on the plethora of projects allowing other languages to work with Cocoa, including desktop OSX, including Apple-funded projects like RubyCocoa.

Is there a legitimate reason for this, or is Apple just thumbing their noses at Adobe (and everyone else)?

Is Apple primarily annoyed that Adobe's app and MonoTouch aren't doing it the "Apple" way? Or do they not like that those frameworks present non-standard UI's (I haven't used MonoTouch, so I don't even know if that's the case here)?

If stuff gets compiled to ARM code and is linked to Apple's frameworks, which I think both Flash-to-app and MonoTouch do, it should be all the same to Apple. Therefore I'd go with thumbing their noses at Adobe. And I'd even say it is because of Adobe's we've-already-sneaked-in-a-bunch-of-apps stunt. In other words, this is not entirely about the betterment of the iPhone platform, it's at least partly personal.

I think that they see cross platform development platforms as a threat. They prefer if apps are written only and specifically for iPhone.

I think it's stupid to ban different languages but I can see that writing apps specifically for a platform can make the application better on that platform, rather than having the lowest common denominator between iPhone, Android and Blackberry powered by a scripting language.

Apple might say the rationale is to allow easier inspection of apps for policy compliance. (Even though other languages compiled-to-approved-languages will be the same for automated analysis, it's more likely the code will be inscrutable to human reviewers.)

You don't submit your source code to Apple. Why should this matter?

You raise an interesting question. Perhaps they'll require source-code to be submitted in the future?

It would greatly surprise me if they did so, not least because every new piece of Apple software might get hit with speculative IP lawsuits if they had any features that bore even the most remote similarity to an iPhone app for which the developer had submitted code...even a company as wealthy as Apple would weep at the compliance costs.

But the indirect effect would be to shut people up. Rather than spending much or any effort on peeking inside iPhone apps looking for signature traces of cross-compilation, Apple would benefit because people would stop talking in public about which 3rd-party development platforms they had used for their cool new app, out of fear that mentioning anything besides C, C++ or Obj. C might result in their app being taken off sale - so without Apple doing a single thing different at the technical level, this license provision would have a chilling effect on discussion about competitors' development tools.

MonoTouch uses Cocoa bindings, so the interface is using native components.

"Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript"

MonoTouch apps are written in C#.

Looking forward to Adobe's response. Going to wager it'll be in the form of a lawsuit, and that the FCC will get involved. Whip out the marshmallows, this should be interesting :)

I'd say the FTC will get involved. This is clearly anticompetitive behavior, though maybe it's allowed since Apple isn't a monopoly.

As much as I dislike this particular move, and Apple's Orwellian control over their platform, bringing this to a lawsuit and getting the FCC involved would be straight-up wrong. Let the market decide this one, Adobe has no legitimate ground whatsoever to force Apple to support it.

I would be hugely disappointed to see Adobe pursue this course of action, and would regard it with significantly more contempt than I currently hold toward Apple.

the market is fucking clueless. it's entirely possible that the path from where we are now to completely locked down "appliances" has monotonically increasing user experience. that doesn't mean it isn't an abysmal local maxima though.

Umm, that's the same market that decided that windows and IE6 should have 95% market share? Is that where we want this to go?

Going to wager it'll be in the form of a lawsuit, and that the FCC will get involved.

On what basis?

If Apple was judged a monopoly alot of this type of behavior, along with AppStore monopoly, would likely be barred. Until they are judged a monopoly, this is legit from a legal POV.

While Adobe is going to bear the brunt of this, this looks like a calculated move against Android as well. By precluding things like PhoneGap (if it turns out that it's "an intermediary translation or compatibility layer"), they're forcing developers that can only afford to write an application once to choose one platform. Right now, iPhone is the easy choice for a lot of developers, just based on market.

The end result being fewer apps for Android and a less vibrant software ecosystem.

Yeah, but if someone writes a compiler that compiles apps natively written for the iphone into android apps, Google will allow that and Apple can do nothing to stop it. So in a way this will mostly hurt Apple.

But Apple will still be the first-class platform and Android will be the second-class citizen in that scenario.

That would be Apple's dream. All mobile developers coding on macbooks.

If I have to pick one platform, it's going to be Android. I already know Java, but even more simply than that, I know Javascript, and Appcelerator's Titanium lets me basically write an app as though it was a web app. I don't have to invest 2 months of intensive study at the cost of my other work; I'm going to go with what I know.

Companies that have existing resources in Objective C, sure, they may choose to go with the iPhone. Developers who already know Objective C will go with the iPhone. Developers who, like me, don't yet know Objective C, and have been interested in development on the iPhone through PhoneGap or Titanium? We're not going to bother with the iPhone.

I have to pick one platform besides CocoaTouch it would be Nokia/Intel's MeeGo.

"Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript"

So porting from another language is now forbidden? Or is it unoriginal code that is banned?

Either way, the sheer craziness is astounding.

In principle, couldn't any of these translation layers be converted to code generators that would produce compiled Obj-C that would fall within the rules?

Surely they aren't saying that all code has to be entirely hand-written? If so, then is running search-and-replace on a source file not allowed?

The contract does say that the app has to be "originally" written in Obj-C, C, C++, or Javascript, so it seems that technically an app that's written in something else and then translated to Obj-C by a code generator would violate the restriction. It's not clear how easy that'd be to enforce, though.

the wording says "Applications must be ORIGINALLY written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript"

It seems absurd and unenforcable; I mean, applications are originally written in my head.

Since Apple completely controls the App Store and reserves the right to refuse any app for any reason (and have shown time and again they are willing to exercise that right), how could this possibly be unenforceable? It is their way or the highway. What is or isn't enforceable is entirely up to them.

Note: I am in no way saying that Apple's stance on this situation is a good one or not, in face, absurd. The iPhone 3G is the last Apple product I will ever buy because of this and other iPod/iPad related anti-developer bullcrap.

Unless they start auditing source code and everyone's entire development process, there are lots of ways in which such a rule could be violated that would be completely undetectable (and some cases that would be easily detectable too).

Quite, but would you admit publicly to having done so?

I think you have it there. Developers probably need to be ready to submit their source code along with their binary. That is my guess on what will happen when one sees the "denied because it isn't hand written."

What this will absolutely stop is Adobe calling out developers who have added apps to the app store compiled with CS5. Those apps created that way will also be unable to move upwards to the new OS version. I would imagine it will also completely stop Adobe and others from any development on any OS 4 bridge because they would have to agree to the license to test against the actual SDK and they can't do that without legal problems.

Next up: Only non-sentient developers allowed.

Quite. How does one extend this to real-world languages? "You must originally compose message board posts in English" So, nazi mind-readers to detect those secret English-as-2nd-Language speakers who are secretly, nefariously still thinking first in their native language before rephrasing it in English?

I've just invented a new language: C2010. It looks exactly like ActionScript, for some reason...

(Hint: Apple's version of C is unlike any standard version of C, like C99. So technically, you can't use Apple's tools. Or, you can call anything you want C, just like they do.)

This is incorrect. Apple's C is C99; they have also introduced a new optional syntax for blocks that they have submitted for standardization.

Right, and $foo is just C but with $bar.

To be fair, all widely-used C compilers I am aware of have extensions to the C90 and C99 standards, which they accept as conformant code by default.

Sure, and that's fine. What Apple is doing is saying, "you must use C" without actually defining what "C" is.

There was a hacker news discussion a while back by one of the principals of Coverity in which they asserted, with no small experience, that there is no such thing as a C language. This is due to the wide number of variations in what compilers accept and that users of C compilers expect.

Sure there is an ideal, but practically, there is not consistent definition of the C language.

The article discussed was this one in CACM (link is to discussion on Lambda the Ultimate) http://lambda-the-ultimate.org/node/3824 . I remember seeing it on HN too, but couldn't find the page immediately.


Apple's C is C99 (as implemented by both gcc and clang). If you wish to take advantage of something like Grand Central Dispatch, they recommend that you do so with their completely optional syntax for blocks (which, aside from being closures AFAIK, are essentially anonymous functions in situ instead of defining a function externally).

You can still use GCD without the new block syntax by using function pointers, leaving you with bog standard C99.

Frankly, gcc implements a lot more non-standard stuff on its own than Apple's blocks have introduced.

Due to time mostly, my Port of Cocos2D to MonoTouch (http://github.com/city41/cocosnet) has gone untouched for sometime. Looks like that was inadvertently the correct decision :(

Damn Apple is evil.

Before you know it they'll be adding clauses like "Code for your application may not be written on Sunday".

I'd love to see something like Logo or MIT's Scratch for the iPad. As I think about introducing my kids to computers that totally makes sense. This new language from Apple seems to preclude that.

It is totally off base.

Interpreters were already prohibited.

Interpreters being banned is old news, this is about compiled stuff being rejected because you chose a 'wrong' language.

That's what I said. The comment I replied to is about the potential for educational apps that require interpreters, which were already prohibited.

The App Store has always been a set of moving goalposts, but Apple just moved them completely out of the end zone.

Such a relocation tends to be more visible from a distance.

Wow, color me totally surprised. Apple treating their developers badly? Say it ain't so.

There is no longer any debate as to who the "bad guy" is in this story -- Apple has proven themselves to be anti-competition, anti-developer, and anti-consumer.

Just created a new "I'm with Adobe" Facebook Group:


I find it same time amusing and hard to believe that this kind of requirement (writing apps only in C++ & Obj-C) is legally possible.

I'm pretty sure that it's legally possible. It's a contract and I don't think that this restriction would be struck down by any court as being not valid.

Contracts of adhesion often are often found Unconscientious and not enforceable.

"I find it same time amusing and hard to believe that this kind of requirement (writing apps only in C++ & Obj-C) is legally possible."

Is this technically possible? If I write my app in language L and also write an L->Obj-C translator, how is Apple going to know? I don't think Apple looks through your source code before putting your app on the App Store(do they)?

It could still be enforcable in court.

ADBE isn't going down because the market closed before the implications of this situation became obvious. For that matter, they're still not entirely obvious. But you can bet they're going to open down tomorrow.

This feels wrong on so many levels...

Basically, they reserve the right to ban any sort of DSL/runtime/engine application architecture. Imagine you are building adventure games (like Money Island). You'd have a game engine and a domain language in which you describe the game. The beauty of this is, you don't have to rewrite the engine every time you finish a story for a game, you just write in your DSL. The same holds for a range of other applications such as travel guides, recipes for cooking... How can you be sure where they draw the line between data and code?

Well, it probably just depends on whether it comes from an Adobe tool or not. Let's see who's next.

Can someone put up a link to the full text of license?

Click the title of the original post. New licence quoted in Gruber's story.

I hope you understand there is a reason that this can't be done: Developers cannot disclose the license. The first time I and many others saw one of them was when EFF FOMAd one from NASA.

Apple's going to annoy a lot of big developers with this. Who's going to use Game Center, when a lot of big games are written with the help of Unity, etc.? There are so many top-10 games affected by this.

Even THQ's Star Wars: Trench Run is affected. You can't really get more high profile than that. I wrote a blog post (http://bit.ly/disQ2C) with some links to various SDKs and their app showcases to give people a bit of an idea of just how many existing apps this SDK change will effect.

Compared to the video game console industry, this is still pretty nice. Several of the companies require submission of the source code for review. And Nintendo in particular is renowned among my video game programming friends for having ridiculous, undocumented rules that change over time.

If you think of the iPhone as a PC-like platform, yes, it's worth being crazy. But I think of mine as more like a game console. That helps me minimize my own feather ruffling, even when Apple does snarky things to me during the review process.

Simply you are mistaken, and that's not true (submitting the source code).

First of all, lots of companies do license many 3rd party libraries, without their source code. Sometimes these said libraries are specifically compiled with latest bugfixes to the relevant project they've been used.

What the companies might require is usually symbols/debug information/etc. But never the source code!

After all, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo are direct competitors. Why should an independent publisher (EA, Activision, THQ, Konami) be sharing source-code with them?

I am clearly misinformed and apologize for my mistake!

This could mean instant death for MonoTouch. What developer would choose to write an iphone/ipad app in MonoTouch with the risk of having to re-write their app if apple drops the hammer.

What developer would choose to write an iPhone/iPad app with the risk of having to re-write or trash their app if apple drops the hammer.

What developer would choose to write an iPhone/iPad app with the risk of having to re-write or trash their app if apple drops the hammer.

Your comment is emitting dangerous levels of irony.

Thats very true, but other app store policies aside, if your going to write a new app this might be enough FUD to completely rule out MonoTouch (which I was considering).

Is it not possible that all this fuss is over a typo?

> 3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

My thought on what they probably meant:

> 3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link only against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to UnDocumented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

I bet what they're trying to do is prevent intermediate tools from allowing people to "whitewash" private API access.

I say this because the interpretation everyone else is seeing in this clause is obviously a horrible position, and I just don't think that's the intent.

Time will tell!

Apple has pursued a single consistent goal under the reign of King Jobs II: protect the ecosystem, and grow it in careful, measured increments.

In order to keep something great from turning to crap, you have to have a gatekeeper. If you don't trust the gatekeeper, that's OK. But I'm hearing a lot of noise from developers who are already beholden to their own gatekeepers (whether it's the core team of your open source project, Microsoft, Oracle/Sun, or whoever). I mean, Adobe?! Could there be a more arbitrary and horrible gatekeeper than Adobe?!

Just because Apple doesn't do what you want doesn't make them better or worse than any maintainer of any "good thing". In the end, it all boils down to whether you trust Apple to do the right thing.

If you don't, then you're welcome to go punt on the umpteen device platforms that are currently vapor. (How many years have we been hearing about "iPod killers", and where are we with that?)

It's OK to complain, but I really would have thought the HN audience would understand that EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE is a trade-off. Yes, we should be debating the rules that Apple imposes, because we have a say in that. No, that doesn't validate rhetoric about Apple being "evil" or "anti-developer" etc.

> developers who are already beholden to their own gatekeepers (whether it's the core team of your open source project

I couldn't disagree more. The goal of free software is to ensure nobody has that kind of control over you and your tools. If you don't need to organize a fork, great, but they've already agreed they can't stop you.

As for the rhetoric, making tools is what makes you a member of our species. Agreeing not to is more like serfdom than partnership.

Then go ahead and fork Flash. LOL.

And forking is obviously less-than-ideal in terms of maintaining against future core updates. It's a kind of "freedom" that comes with plenty of new burdens.

What's next? A requirement on what languages I'm allowed to think in? Not allowed to think thoughts that impinges Apple or one of its partners?

Would Adobe have a valid antitrust case with this?

Doubtful. Adobe, Appcelerator, et al are not in competition with Apple, only making products which run on theirs. The ToS have always been disclosed as variable. It's a good reason not to predicate your business model on the whims of another company which has no stake in your success. :/

You could say the same thing about developing software for any platform that isn't open. None of these companies could have foreseen that Apple would drop the hammer on the creation of tools to help developers create more iPhone applications. They still have to pay Apple to develop for the iPhone. It's not like this was some end-run around the system.

Some companies are interested in having their ecosystem succeed and keep their agreements largely stable. Developing software for Microsoft is typically a solid proposition, for example; they're unlikely to change the agreement as to what toolkit you can use after the fact.

Apple, on the other hand, has shown a somewhat... avaricious... approach to the app store, rejecting applications for curvy buttons, speech bubbles, or being able to load arbitrary images from the internet. We should all realize that Apple will allow precisely what it wants to with respect to the app store, and nothing more. They don't need to do anything else; consumers will buy their products regardless of how the apps can be created.

I don't like it, but I definitely saw it coming. :/

It especially sucks if Apple does follow through with this and the people that paid for MonoTouch end up with a digital pet rock.

http://monotouch.net/Store $999 for the Enterprise version? Ouch.

Nope. Apple doesn't have a monopoly in the phone market.

"Nope. Apple doesn't have a monopoly in the phone market"

It's a common misconception that you have to have a monopoly to run afoul of antitrust law. You don't. It also goes the other way--having a monopoly is not necessarily a violation of antitrust.

For instance, mergers have been shot down on antitrust grounds even when the merged companies would have had under 50% of the market.

Antitrust is more about the effects of actions on competition, rather than market share, although there tends to be a correlation between the two.

Yes, but is relevant if they are not judged to have a anti-compoetitive effect on the market as a whole. Clearly a company does not have to be a 100% monopoly in the literal sense to run afoul of anti-monopoly laws, but these sanctions are not applied to EVERY company. In Europe, it is not even a matter of behavior illegal for 'monopolies' to engage in, if they are a 'monopoly' there can be sanctions.

Thank you, good sir, for posting this reasoned, thoughtful, and accurate post.

People disagree?

Yeah, but the timing of the news could possibly end them in court.

Had they done this months ago, they'd likely have not had a problem. But 4 days before CS5's release? I could see that adobe has already filed suit.

could apple then sue them back because they're talking about something that is still under nda?

Perhaps sue John Gruber, who put it out there on the web.

Once out there, Adobe was likely under no obligation to not talk about it.

How is "market" defined, legally? They certainly have a monopoly over the "iPhone" or "iPhone App Store apps" markets. Of course, that reasoning could get absurd pretty quickly, so I'm sure it must be defined at a pretty generic, high level.

It's a gray area. One of the issues in the Microsoft antitrust suits was: what is the "market" in which Windows operates? Obviously, operating-system software of some sort, but which platforms count in the total? Microsoft was arguing that they make basically "an OS for computers", and so their market share should be computed after including Unix workstations, Mac desktops, maybe even Unix servers and IBM mainframes in the totals. Netscape were arguing that the relevant market was the OS market for IBM-compatible home-and-office PCs, in which Microsoft had a much higher dominance.

It's a good question and it turns out to be the most important issues for any anti-trust action. If you are really interested, I would encourage you to look up some famous cases and read the decisions in some of the cases.

Antitrust is about abusing monopoly power so I'd guess not, but I'd love to hear an opinion from a US lawyer about the 'restraint of trade' angle.

For example, I don't think automakers are allowed to ban competitors from making compatible parts for their cars. Similarly I think there have been cases where printer makers tried and failed to prevent competitors from making compatible ink cartridges for their printers. No automakers or printer manufacturers have a monopoly though.

Requiring the use of certain tools to produce an otherwise identical product seems to me a violation along similar lines. I'd love to hear an expert opinion on it.

Apple pulling an A-Move straight out their jacket again. Haha anyone surprised? God, I lost my faith in this company a long time ago.

Here's where this hurts. The Adobe blog stated that you'd be able to build iPhone apps.

It wasn't until recently that some of us stopped and thought, wait.... what if Apple decides to deny all Flash built apps???

A lot of time was probably lost by developers. There's going to be a lot of crushed dreams.

Plus, instead of spending $600 on CS5, I'll probably buy a Mac Mini.

Don't forget another possible explanation: Objective C, C and C++ are difficult languages, meaning there's a barrier to entry. Apple may also want to prevent application development from becoming a commodity: they don't want "widget shops" employing warm bodies to churn out low-value applications.

Of course, I disagree with this approach: there already are widget shops. It's possible to program in a language without knowing it, by writing it non-idiomatically resulting in buggier, slower code that takes longer to develop and is difficult to maintain. The fact that they write in languages that take longer to develop an app in would just mean they'll choose "low quality" while still maintaining the same quantity.

Problems with it aside, and I certainly don't like it anymore then anyone else here (I was still hoping to get a lisp working for iPhone development), I think it would be wrong to attribute the decision to malice.

Apple's doing this for the exact same reason they do EVERYTHING else controversial that they do on iPhone OS: because the primary (only?) thing they care about is the end user experience being as good as possible. In this case, Flash (which I'm sure this is entirely aimed at) doesn't provide as good of a user experience as the native UI controls, so they're nixing it while they can without as much bad publicity as they'd have if they waited until after CS5 was released.

No, they're clearly doing this to lock people down and prevent strong innovation on their platform. They want tons of toy apps, but nothing threatening. They don't want people abstracting over their platform. They are deliberately restricting developer freedom. If they wanted to avoid crap apps, they would just reject crap apps. They don't care about that. They want to prevent developers from innovating on top of them, so they cripple the tools that developers may use, hobbling us so that we may only produce small cute toys which they can use to promote their platform.

Really? Bullshit. You honestly believe that stuff made in Obj-C can only be a toy whereas something written in ActionScript will bring the "strong innovation"? Yes, they're certainly restricting developer freedom (which, again, I don't like any more then anyone else), for the same reason they have been in the past: because they don't want their users to have a shitty experience.

I mean, how the hell do you define a "cute toy" vs. an actually innovative app? What's something that is more innovative on Android, say, or a Pre that isn't there on an iPhone? (Google Voice being the obvious exception, but again with the everything-Apple-does-is-about-UX thing.)

Tumult's point is not about writing a single script-based solution but rather about developing an enabling technology for a whole raft of solutions. A platform-on-platform.

Like what? You can't use Objective-C to do something like that?

I could do it with assembly. But it would be stupid, and wasteful. Objective-C is not the tool for every job. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_tarpit

Do you have empirical evidence to prove which language(s) are better than C, C++, Objective-C, and JavaScript in creating applications on the iPhone's runtime and UI model?

Empirical evidence? Ask the guys Apple is funding to do MacRuby.

Even granted that, the reason Apple doesn't want that is still because of the UX. Apps with the same codebase for Android/iPhone will automatically suck as far as the UI is concerned. Things like the lack of multitouch gestures on android, different screen sizes, &c. Certainly has never worked well on desktop platforms... see: Java UI toolkits, QT (which looks fairly native but tends to feel very wrong), Adobe Air, &c.

Who cares what you think they want? Read the developer agreement. What's it say? Anything that isn't C, C++, or Objective-C is banned.

Yup. And your point is? For the third time now, my point isn't that this is a good thing, and I'm certainly not a fan of the decision. My point is that Apple isn't doing this because they hate developers, or want to tweak Adobe's nose (well, maybe a little), but because all they care about is their product's user experience.

Why does it matter what language I used to develop an application, if it produces a binary that runs acceptably on the platform and otherwise follows all of the rules? I can write a more stable application in SML, Haskell or even untyped Scheme than most of the clowns I see making app store junk in Objective-C.

Apple does not allow third party apps to use multitouch so that is a known issue.

>Apps with the same codebase for Android/iPhone will automatically suck as far as the UI is concerned

Hardly. There is the graphics api called opengl that works on both iPhone and Android (and your ps3 and computer).

so they cripple the tools that developers may use

By only allowing the tools they use? It seems like if what you said was true they would do exactly the opposite.

What language and tools do you think Apple uses for the apps they provide and/or sell on the iPhone/iPad?

Assembly and graphics shaders are used extensively, to name two that external developers are prohibited from programming in.

"Apple responsible for 99.4% of mobile app sales in 2009"


so obviously AppStore is a monopole - the other 3~10 stores have a miserable 0.6% ... of course that says a lot about Apple genius and how its competitors are plain retarded ... but ...

still i think they are more and more abusing their dominant position with their draconian dev rules ... and that should be looked at - could present some legal challenges for them ... im no lawyer - but i think the only way they can get away with it is tru the private nature of the dev agreement ...

incidentally - i really think Apple is special - one of a kind genius company - but also because of that people cut them way too much slack ...

to prove my point - just try this simple mental exercise - try to picture - what would happen on this same forum if we were discussing about say - Microsoft - say Microsoft just put out a nice new license for Windows-7 that said you "can develop for W7 only if you use C#, .NET, Microsoft own compilers, Flash is banned and Redmond will need to approve all any application" ...

dude - it's so funny i cannot even finish typing it ... really - it just sounds so crazy - like a story from another world - a world of evil monopolistic corporations that try to control our free lives... yet all we did with this simple exercise is to change one word : Apple -> Microsoft ... and - last time i checked - Windows does not even have 99.4% of the market - more like 90% coupled with a boring, inferior resource hogging product that though comes with all the freedoms democracy brigs us ...

and that proves my point - we do cut Apple way too much slack just because they are so awesome in making great products ...

full disclosure - i owned both iPhone 2G and 3G, just recently dumped 3G for a nexus-one because id rather own an imperfect (though rapidly improving) democracy than in a perfect nazional-socialistic system ... i still use my mac - osx is awesome and kicks Windows-7 lower-back ... and just got an iPad - just because there are no other choices ... yet ...

You can't stop people from making their own choices, whenever you try to force any kind of sensor ship or prohibition on people, they will find out ways to go around. IMHO very stupid and arrogant move by Apple.

Two things I haven't seen mentioned: 1. The majority of iPhone developers aren't effected by this at all. 2. To some degree, this is is about ensuring the Mac remains a required part of iPhone/iPad development.

Bill Gates made a big mistake back in the late nineties. He could have just banned everything that didn't use the Windows API directly. Java and the web would never have happened. The world is so simple :-)

My original reaction to this was "WTF. There should be a class action suit against Apple by developers along the lines of hindering freedom of speech".

... but then, any compiler that can generate the processor's instructions can obviously also be modified to generate Objective-C code. So I guess this will result in all the cross-compilers just changing their target language from llvm or assembly to ... Objective-C.

I can live with that ... and watch Apple slap themselves on their pretty foreheads ... whatever it is they hoped to accomplish in terms of lock-in :)

Ok, idea: If we can't bring flash / other languages to the ip{{o,a}d,hone}, why not bring the ipod/ipad/iphone to other platforms? Write an Android wrapper around Cocoa's API, for example. Something like a WINE of sorts. People with lots of iphone app dev experience can write their iphone app, then turn around and recompile that Objective C code into an android app.

Far from ideal, but it may be the best solution at the moment.

This doesn't sound practical for Apple to enforce - they could cherry pick a few big targets perhaps (Adobe....).

It could also simply be a change just so they can see what the response from the development community is - and may change rather soon.

I just can't fathom this particular rule lasting very long... it's not just lock-in, or a little bit evil, it's patently insane.

Might sound ridiculous, but how would one write GLSL shaders now that the C/C++/Objective-C/JavaScript only rule is there...

If the installed base of the products is large enough, no matter how draconian the terms there will be a subset of all potential developers that will be swayed by the money to be made so they'll accept the terms. Any attempt at boycotting will simply fail because of that.

Apple is shifting the burden here from users to developers. It's easier for a developer to simply puke out a lowest common denominator app but it's not so good for the user who is buying the iPhone because of the cool UI/interaction/integration good native apps provide. It's easier for a developer to simply have their unmodified app run in the background but it's not so good for the user who is losing cycles/battery because of it. I don't want to justify it because obviously there's some valid downsides especially for developers to this approach. My only point would be that's Apple's secret sauce. It's gotta work right, it's gotta look right, everything has to work right together. Apple is going to do whatever it takes to make this happen because they feel like that's their core advantage over their competitors. They're probably right. If you disagree there's Android, BlackBerry, Palm, Nokia, etc. It's not like Apple has a gun to our head. As individuals we have free will.

Adobe will not be happy about this, which makes me think: given how events unfolded recently in Adobe-Apple relationship and given that Photoshop is getting crappier and crappier in its OS X incarnation—has Apple some Photoshop/CS analog in the works?

I wouldn't be surprised if there were "unexpected" difficulties or delays of CS5 for OSX. Same stuff happened when Apple pulled a Final Cut on Adobe and Adobe pulled Premiere off of Mac back then - all accompanied with lots of sparks. I guess things never settled between those two companies ever since.

That's a counterpart for Adobe Lightroom, not Photoshop. Of course I can plug a wonderful http://pixelmator.com/ but as much as I love the work of fellow Lithuanians it ain't Photoshop yet :(

This is only enforceable for tools like CS5 that reverse engineered the app signing process. How could Apple distinguish binaries produced intermediaries like PhoneGap and Appcelerator's Titanium from binaries produced by native Objective C code?

I'm sure it's possible to figure out if a programme was generated by some other programme. When programmes generate other source code, they will have a certain style, a certain naming convention for functions, a certain main class, etc.

Totally rational if: - it doesn't undermine the market for Apple hardware - it sets back competitors

The requirement to use Apple development tools, automatically means you must use Apple hardware to develop on. Ka-ching!

So, as an Apple shareholder, I'm happy about it.

Apple has always been too rude to developers. Returning the iPad will be a good way to protest. Lets see how well apple does without early adopters (a major chunk of which are developers and developer referrals)

I am not regretting my decision to move away from Apple and it's products.

The first thing that came to my mind when I read the title is "wtf". What a really bad move. I wonder how much more can the app developers take.

I am not trying to defend Apple, but is it possible that the approval process was being slowed done by having to ensure that all the other intermediary translators were not using private APIs?

no, it isn't any harder to determine whether binaries produced by intermediaries access private apis.

Looks like http://xmlvm.org/overview/ is still usable, isn't it? I am wondering when apple will close this route down, too, though

I want to code in Objective-C, and I don't think Android allows that, so I'm stuck programming for iPhone/iPad. I wish Google will support Objectice-C calls against their APIs.

You could write your Android app in Objective-C and then run a program that translates it to Java. Google doesn't prohibit you from doing that.

Afaik, Android has a Native SDK which means you can incorporate C code: http://developer.android.com/sdk/ndk/index.html -- I'd imagine, if you can get some cross compilation done with Obj-C it would work, as long as your output was a JNI library.

You could use a JVM-based "close substitute" (e.g., Objective J->JS->Rhino) for the UI portion, which makes JNI calls to an Obj-C backend.

Okay, there is ECL (Embeddable Common Lisp) which has been hacked up to work on the iPhone. It compiles to C.

I can't use it?

I hope there are other companies that will release usable tablet hardware.

I'm no Clojure fan, but if you want to write Lisp-like for a phone, why not Android? Your Clojure app can run on everything from the G1 to the Nexus One to the Archos 5" and 7" tablets, not to mention the wide variety of no-name Chinese tablets that run Android.

I've heard you can even get a SLIME/Swank REPL from the emulator or actual hardware. Seems like this beats the iPhone any day; better development cycle, and nobody can ever stop you from selling your app.

If I won't write for Apple, why should I write for Google (aka 'the NSA frontend') and their OS?

The only useful alternative will be a 'free' Linux derivative that does not restrict me in my developer choices and does not want to collect all kinds of data.

Android is completely Free Software. You can compile the git version and install it on pretty much any Android device. If there's spyware, delete it and recompile :)

And your less paranoid users can just grab your software from your website, and run it on their "stock" devices.

true, but I don't want to support a company that does not respect privacy and collects data without any control - I also don't have the time to inspect their code

So what's your solution, "do nothing"? Typical lisp programmer...

Lisp implementations like CLISP and ECL already run on various kinds of devices.

Sorry, that I don't care about running Clojure and/or Android.

I'm no economist, and certainly no lawyer, but this does seem to me like it violates anti-trust law. Can anyone more informed about such issues comment on that?

I suppose C++ will be banned when QT for iPhone is ready.

ROFL, as if Apple is going to allow Qt apps.

I think Apple could have done with some explanation on this, despite all the anti-compertative conspiracy theories, this has probably got more to do with weeding out apps that wont be able to multi-task on the new OS 4 platform, than being another salvo in an apple-adobe wars. Thats why the Rule change has been couched more in terms of how you can write apps (objective-c, api's etc), and not in terms of how you cant which is pure conjecture at the moment.

Sorry, I think you've failed to grasp what Apple's "Multitasking" is about. They are perfectly happy with apps that do not multitask AT ALL. They are not offering "true" multitasking, but allowing app's to notify system daemons to carry on CERTAIN tasks, e.g. IM notificiations, VoIP, downloading content. If an app doesn't want to do this, and there's no reason an App written in MonoTouch can't do this just as easily as an ObjC Cocoa app, that really doesn't matter to Apple.

Could this be something simpler like, code from non-XCode tools is more likely to hang-up their automated testing?

Thought: They already reserve the right to reject an app for no reason at any time, why add this to the SDK terms?

If I'm reading this clause right, it seems to prohibit Greenspunning (as a "compatibility layer.")

No, that was prohibited a long time ago.

isn't it possible to distribute apps written using other languages with this method ? http://www.networkworld.com/news/2010/040810-apple-iphone-os...

Compare this to the recent Google action of withdrawing from China, which company is evil? It's a no brainer.

apple is too restrictive!

I think this decision is also about preventing the virus and trojan hell like that on Windows platform and other "unauthorized" code to be spread on millions of devices. It is much easier and cheaper to examine and control such restricted binaries before releasing them on iTunes.

About Flash, Java and other outdated WM-based crap - they are pragmatic. They don't need any WM to run apps on their hardware. Modern CPU is the only necessary WM. So, there will be much less complains about crashes, bad performance and out-of-memory issues.

Together, these two major problems sank the reputation of Windows and Apple want to avoid them.

So, there is nothing special. Apple can dictate rules which helps them to make more profit, and of course they will.

Wanna freedom - there is Android. Google trying very hard to position it as Linux (community-driven open and free platform) for smartphones.

I don't know why you got voted down. I don't agree with Apple here, but you make a good point. However, assuming Apple is concerned about security here, it's clearly not the only issue.

Nanny Apple wants to dictate the media you take in. Trust me, if it could, it would restrict HTML. Open standards are only good if you control the standards. =)

And Microsoft just announced they silverlight can work on iPhone/iPad using IIS Media Services


That isn't silverlight, that's video, which the silverlight media server now just provides in a format the iPhone/iPad already supports. No .net running on iPhone OS at all.

If you want to develop apps for the iPhone, iPod, or iPad, then you have two choices--make a webapp, or make a native app.

Don't want to learn Objective-C? Then build a webapp.

Apple is not restricting your rights. Apple is not stealing your freedoms. Apple is not being tyrannical. Apple is not snatching your children away as payment for your access to the AppStore. I bet there's very few on here who are even developing apps that are doing all the bitching. Your the I'm-a-Flash-developer I-can-has-AppStore? type who want to have access to the latest opportunity to grab some money bags without having to learn a new trick. Did you try to read a line of Obj-C and realize it has a different syntax than your Flash timeline and AS and decide to cry cos you might have to work for those riches you're after?

Do you all gripe that the web requires HTML? Did you all complain when Macromedia didn't give you Flash that only required you have a scant understanding of HTML and CSS to call yourself a "developer"? Your complaints are so lame.

Companies make products. They want to control their products and its image as much as they can because it is their livelihood. If you want to base your livelihood on that product, then you pay by their rules. If you want to be outside the rules then you go your own way, but don't start crying cos they ask you to use their product to make your money in a specified way that protects their name and image.

If you don't want to use the tools, make a web app. If you want to complain thAt web apps can't do everything a native app can, then learn the platform and make a native app.

Stop expecting that the company that has taken all of the risk and spent all the money on r&d and given you an SDK and documented it exhaustively and covers the costs of distribution and takes all that WORK and COST off your back is asking too much to request that you repay them with the kindness of protecting and advancing the brand by using the tools THEY BUILT FOR YOU so the product and the platform can stay popular and successful and keep making you money.

Good grief. That shit is so hard to swallow isn't it? Let's all burn our Macs and sound like morons with all our Android-or-Nothing cries while we quietly go fire up XCode so we can make some offing money.

This is stupid.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact