This is naive, stupid, or both. There never was a technical cause of lock in (as indeed the Apportable people are not alone in demonstrating), it's purely an artificial business construct with the surmountable technical hurdles being very convenient.
It's well within Apple's capabilities to launch the media consumption parts of iTunes on Android, like on Windows PCs, but it should be kind of telling that they don't.
One of the lessons of my career so far is never underestimate the ability of people to assume that problems are primarily technical in nature when actually the real problem is something else. Technical excuses can often be used for after the fact justification of management decisions.
According to this person, the barrier is not some strategic lock-in plan at Apple. The barrier is more about business incompatibilities.
For example. It's fully possible for Apple to ship an iCloud SDK for Windows. But the way iCloud works is, it's integrated deeply with each application. It is believable that your average iOS app, or your average Mac app, would be willing to integrate with iCloud's SDK. But is it believable that your average Windows app will? Will Microsoft do the work to integrate the iCloud SDK with Office on Windows? Of course not! The idea is preposterous.
Far more likely is that Microsoft's own SkyDrive or will become standard on Windows, or maybe Dropbox will, which is designed in such a way that it doesn't have to integrate with anybody's product. Apple could have designed iCloud in a way that didn't require third-party support, and maybe they should've, but they didn't. And anyway that would be a completely different thing than the way iCloud is used right now.
Apple has the willingness, particularly post-Jobs, to license some things to other platforms. Especially if it grows their own ecosystem, and a lot of Apple's stack falls into that category. But getting the deal done has more ingredients than just Apple being willing and some end-user who wants it. You can't say, merely because there is no technical barrier, that clearly every time an Android user buys a book from Kindle instead of the iBookstore that Tim Cook cackles with glee. I pretty much guarantee he'd be interested in getting a deal done on that.
iTunes on Windows is one of the worst pieces of software by a major company...ever. If I want to buy music or video I can do it through Amazon, and I have vastly more trust for Amazon's pricing structures. (Remember the anti-trust suit that Apple lost? The one that found them guilty of artificially keeping eBook prices high? And now we have Amazon fighting with another publisher to get them to agree to lower eBook prices...)
What I remember is that Amazon created the e-book space, for all intents and purposes.
And the reason they undercut the royalty price was to create that market. People didn't want to spend $20 or more to buy an electronic copy of a book they could buy for less in physical form. People aren't stupid: If they aren't getting a physical item they can then hand to their friends and/or sell, then what they're getting has less value.
Heck, I still get annoyed by crazy-high eBook prices. An eBook should absolutely ALWAYS cost less than the physical copy. If there are 500 copies available used for $0.01 on Amazon, then it shouldn't be more than about $5 (paying a bit for the convenience of having a digital copy -- those $0.01 copies typically add ~$4 in shipping costs), and yet you can find $8-10 price on a Kindle edition. 
Amazon has a very strong customer focus.  That results in lower prices. It also makes it harder for competition, yes, but that "customer obsession" has become core to the culture at Amazon.
 First one I found: http://www.amazon.com/Against-All-Enemies-Tom-Clancy-ebook/d... -- it turns out many of the $.01 books are only $6 on Kindle, which is better than I thought, but it wasn't hard to find one greater than $8.
 See the first "leadership principle" on this page: http://www.amazon.com/Values-Careers-Homepage/b?ie=UTF8&node...
Amen. When I'm feeling trollish around my tech friends, I'll insist that mobile, not fiber, is the future of the internet, or that mailing DVDs is better than streaming. The former because the OTA market allows new entrants, easier competition. The latter because licensing costs are a red queen problem, and make building a full catalog impossible.
Those are mostly argument starters, but really each just based on getting people to admit one idea: technology isn't the final arbiter of efficiency/inefficiency. Legal and economic considerations are sometimes the trump suit.
I know that Apple doesn't want Android versions of their own applications, but there is no excuse why we have to have a discussion about Android first or Apple first for startups if the hybrid solutions were actually sufficient. In practice, there is always a tradeoff.
Also, Apple likes to write SDK features which break their security model that only they may use in their own apps.
Edit: Seems like the Android<->iOS Cider team have realised this and renamed to 'Cycada'
Cool, but it's against Apple's EULA to run the iOS binaries on non-Apple hardware, so unfortunately this project suffers from the same problem as emulators that require you to acquire the original firmware somehow.
This is Hacker News, right?
Did it though? I thought it referred to finding creative solutions to problems that often incorporated programming. Was anyone really considered to be hacking if they were writing tic tac toe in Basic?
To summarize, the internet pissing match between if it meant "cracker" or something more akin to "respected technologist" was won by a late entrant: "using the cachet a label the former two groups built to sell a job to someone that is neither."
Or, to summarize the summary: The moment Paul Graham's writing told me I was a hacker, I knew I irrevocably wasn't.
As long as they don't distribute that copyrighted code or derivations of that code then they should be okay. The end user then has to find a legal way to get a copy of that code.
The research project was partly funded by NSF grants, so does that mean the public have the right to see all work related to the project?
I ask because the lead researcher, Jeremy Andrus, is now employed by Apple and wrote this on the YouTube video:
"I have started a job with Apple, and will not be continuing work on this project.
The team at Columbia will probably be doing some follow up work, but I won't be involved from here on out."
For better or worse, no. NSF funding brings requirements for data sharing, but does not automatically trigger code availability.
I have started a job with Apple, and will not be continuing work on this project. The team at Columbia will probably be doing some follow up work, but I won't be involved from here on out.
So basically Apple has tried to kill or at least slow down the release of this to the public (he's obviously talented, I'm just saying that killing progress on this project likely factored somewhere into the hiring decision).
The same exact thing happened to the guy behind ReactOS (an Open Source Windows NT replacement). The guy became /so/ familiar with Windows that he eventually got a job on the actual Windows Kernel team.
edit (due to the downvotes): Sorry, this was an honest question. I've been working for about 15 years and have always been really put off by the institutional structure of large companies ... the constitution of them just doesn't work for the kind of green-field I'm (and I thought most hackers) are looking for.
I wasn't trying to be negative or deleterious --- I really didn't get it.
I routinely turn down offers from the big players because I imagine once I'm in, it's going to be like the movie Brazil.
I've worked for three large companies as a non-contractor - and I mean maybe I just didn't have the right title but I found the following (in all three):
* I was prohibited from working on broken things that I was capable of fixing but I wasn't assigned to - even if nobody else was addressing them ... Almost as if there's some internal taxonomy model which strictly defines my role as X and only X. Having things lay broken is so frustrating to me.
* Pointing out that projects are on a steady course for derailment and failure was discouraged. Recommending any fix whatsoever was completely a prohibitive.
* Questions like "what does the client want?" or "Can I ask the client a question" always came back with things like "That's not your job".
* Proposals to big payoffs for small LOEs that would substantially improve the project always got shot down. Probably because the "from" field of the email was wrong.
* Creativity, innovation, and working on big new problems was incredibly discouraged. The concept that I have more than just one ability appears either cognitively impossible or structurally incompatible.
I got a nice paycheck - the work was relatively stable and secure, and everything was running smoothly --- but I was completely wasting years of my life.
On the contrary, all the small companies I've worked for have been the exact opposite. It's not that I necessary want to do contract negotiations and SOW writeups, but it gives clarity and purpose that I was just unable to get from the larger firms.
I mean again, maybe it's because my resume doesn't say "PhD, Stanford" on it - I don't know.
Has your experience been dramatically different?
Coming from the other side, that's frustrating to me too. I was working with a broken tool that the vendor wanted $200,000 to fix. I hacked together a shell script over the course of a few weeks that eased my pain, but required I work in a Linux virtual machine. I would have loved to port it to something that works on Windows like Python, but it was just glue over awk and sed and trim, and I have no idea how to replace those in any other language.
But you know who did have that knowledge? Our resident programmer. But every time I brought it up to the boss that he should work on it and get it running on Windows, the answer was "he has more important things to do, and if he has time to work on your side project, he needs more work to do". Literally. And in the next breath, the boss said "we need that script to follow our programming practices" aka Windows and Java. I'm not a damn programmer! But we do have one on the team!
when i was working at startups one of my largest sources of stress was having to constantly rush shoddy products out of the door because people were obsessed with beating some real or hypothetical competitor to market, never mind that any clients we did get to install our products either gave up early or tied us up with loads of support issues that we again had to fix on a quick-release, ad-hoc basis rather than systematically and correctly.
incidentally my resume says "phd dropout", so if the lack of a big-name university on your phd makes you disinclined to apply to places like google or salesforce, you should at least reconsider. in my experience these companies care a lot less about that sort of branding than they possibly did in the past.
You certainly won't see similar challenges if you limit your scope to companies with less than 50 people and less than 10 million in funding. Unless you are a founder or maybe a first hire that would seem to preclude you from almost any interesting company coming out of SV in the last 15 or so years.
Not ever hacker is a startup entrepreneur.
Similar projects know to stay really, really far away from anyone associated with the company whose product they're duplicating. WINE wants nothing to do with you if you've ever come within 500 feet of Microsoft's source code. If the project's founder is willing to give up that easily, it's certainly an easy, cheap way to kill off such a project.
It seems highly likely that Apple has some interest in protecting their brand. Part of the whole "Most amazing phone we've ever made" is the implication that the things you can do on iPhone can't be done on commodity hardware. This would undermine that in a way.
To say there is no way they would hire instead of doing a C&D if that was the motive is really silly. We don't know why they did it, but we can basically assume they know he was doing that before the hiring process.
This is nothing but a research project that does not mean much in the real world. It got that person a job at Apple. So that's a win for that individual. I don't think one can expect more out of the project really.
We at Apportable (YC W2011) have been doing that for 3 + years in a much for commercially viable way. We strive for source compatibility and are not building an emulator that requires taking libraries from an iOS device.
Their way gives the power to the user. The user copies across iOS app binary and system libraries and it's done.
Basically, your way empowers the developer, their way empowers the user.
You need to be commercially viable because your investors demand it. The price you charge developers may prevent some developers from porting their app.
They don't need to be commercially viable because they're a research project. If they release their source code, the community of hackers will develop a free and easy to install system to allow users to run any iOS app on Android.
This is not in the developers interests usually. I have heard release exclusives but they all almost have expiration dates.
> Their way gives the power to the user. The user copies across iOS app binary and system libraries and it's done.
While it may empower users, it's not widely practical. (IANAL) You also have a problem that it's near impossible to get the apps off the device (you can download them with iTunes on the desktop though), then you have to decrypt them of their FairPlay encryption, and then transfer them to an Android device without possibly violating several licenses, the DMCA, and few copyrights along the way.
Providing an SDK for developers to cross compile their apps means that the apps are built and optimized specifically for Android when compiled and the distribution is not an issue for the developers because it's just like any other app on Android. It also allows the developer to integrate and provide support for system features specifically on Android.
> They don't need to be commercially viable because they're a research project.
It's not that it's not commercially viable but that highly impractical. It's will be hard to distribute and make very accessible and usable for users.
As part of a thought experiment I got Mono running on top of Apportable's platform (I used to work on Mono myself ironically). We just work at a lower level at Apportable.
Xamarin has great high level tools for developing apps if you want to write in C#. We rely on the tools the developers already use and know (mainly Xcode) to develop for other platforms while also providing you a native userland that has most of the same native APIs and frameworks you find on iOS (and most Unix like environments) that you don't get on Android out of the box.
So, the user gets to violate the Apple copyrights. sigh
Additionally, copyright doesn't disallow you from copying a file from one device you own to another. Copyright is about the distribution of ideas between people, not about arrangements of bits.
People seem to have this disgust of Copyright / paying for music / paying for films / paying for software and justify it with vague arguments about "fat cats" and "sticking it to the man" but then would obviously object to people taking their own stuff....
That said, it is fun to say "fuck the man", and often doing the right thing coincides with it for a while. Rhetoric like that can be a good way to get some people out of their comfort zones on topics like copyright, and then more nuanced analysis can lead to the realization of the importance of building sustainable, respectful means of production. DRM, Copyright, etc. are net losses to society. They may be the only way 100mm-dollar-budget movies can exist, but I think it's better to have a culture where the people have democratic control over the objects of their culture instead of being at the mercy of content conglomerates, cease-and-desist letters for fan works, and geographic youtube restrictions.
You may say that copyright is a loss to society, but as an individual that is part of the society, I would be losing out from your infringement of my copyright. That would mean that my individual loss would equate to a loss within that society.
Or am I not part of society? Does my copyright mean nothing to you?
Exclusives in the mobile industry are vanishingly rare. This wasn't always the case; Nvidia had a bunch of exclusive games (or at least exclusive on Android; they were mostly iOS ports) when they brought out the Tegra 2, and Samsung and Amazon have occasionally had time-limited exclusives on high-profile properties like Angry Birds, but it doesn't really make much sense for the developer, and seems to have largely stopped.
Also I have an urge to pop some eye balls in EyeLord right now.
So i wonder: why is that gap between the marketing and reality ? and maybe an emulator will close that gap ?
There are a lot of reasons why people don't use Apportable, most of them don't have anything to do with Apportable's actual technology. Those reasons include: not willing to pay for it, and the fact that iOS design patterns (human interface guidelines) are completely different from Android design patterns. You cannot simply port over the exact same buttons and table views from iOS. Apportable will port those over just fine, but you basically need to redesign the entire app to be different on Android to have something that isn't jarring. At which point you may as well write everything in Java.
To do that, they'd need developer cooperation. Developers are notoriously unwilling to deal with any app stores but the Apple and Google ones; look at the state of the Amazon and particularly the Samsung ones.
If you hit our sales team up at firstname.lastname@example.org, we have product that is in beta that you could get access to that might work for you.
Really? iTunes is cool? I'm yet to see someone who likes it, including my friends who are big time iOS fans.
As far as iTunes as a main music library manager; it's very, very good (though iTunes 12 has soured me on it a bit).
On <insert name of popular private torrent tracker>, which is known it's users having tens of thousands of FLAC file libraries, iTunes still rates pretty decently among people running OS X.
Besides the legal obstacles to making this commerically viable, there are technical ones too:
Unfortunately this technology is quite a bit more complicated than a simple .apk download - it involves system-wide changes including a modified Linux kernel.
At the time, I said that RIMM/BlackBerry should do whatever they could to acquire this technology, enhance it, and bundle it with BB10. Combined with BB10's already-demonstrated capability to run Android apps, it could have meant "the best of all possible worlds" for BB owners...the ability to run apps from the two most popular competing platforms, on a platform that's much more secure and higher-performing.
Ah. Awesome work, but not commercially viable. :(