Jul 13

Inputs, Integrations, Smart Services, and Ecosystem; The next iOS and Android battles

Apple, Google, Mobile, Tech Comments Off

WWDC and Google I/O have come and gone. At first I was disappointed with both, but then I sat back to think about what an amazing time we are in with mobile and computing. I don’t know about you, but I feel like the battle of the full touch screen is done, and now we move on. Android has caught up enough on the quality of display (although not “retina” displays such as housed by HTC One X are fantastic), and especially with Jellybean, the UI isn’t as jaggy and laggy as in the past. The hard work of battery drain and performance still continues, but it is also easily close enough. The Nexus 7 shows that Android tablets can compete too. Finally people can talk pro’s and con’s versus “er, why the hell would you buy that?”

All in all it feels like we are heading to another game of Brazil vs. Germany, both at the top of their game. Brazil has the amazing feel, taste, and style, and are also continuing to up their game with pace and strength. Germany has their organization and resource to bare, but also have growing cunning and quality. You look forward to watching the next game.

The next battles live in new inputs, integrations, smart services and ecosystems.


Touch has been somewhat nailed. We do have haptic feedback to look forward to in the future, and this has the chance of changing the game again. How will our typing productivity go up with haptics? How will it change gaming, or music instrumentation, or art?

Voice is the obvious big push. We are still pretty early here, but where Siri was good, Google has gone beyond. The speed of recognition has been outstanding, and once you get to a certain point where you can trust it, I think this will go far past the gimmick to full usage. I also feel like there is room for hybrid usage. When typing something you can tell your system to go into caps mode, or switch to the spanish keyboard, or what have you. Once voice is of a certain quality it all changes.

Then there are other new inputs. Having the camera giving us a Kinect experience on mobile. Who knows what else will come along that will enable us to get our ideas, requirements, and instructions to the computing device as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Oh, and of course there is Glass :)


With hardware Apple has the advantage of full integration (their own chips) and buying power. This means that they typically have the nicest hardware with the best overall package, AND they can do it for cheaper (this is very different to the Wintel generation where Mac couldn’t compete on price!).

Google has the advantage of Open, and giving consumers more choice (”I want a bigger screen”).

Smart Services

Google must be salivating on this one. Now that we have the basic integrations and inputs on great devices…. services can come in to solve user problems. We see this clearly with Google Now. The server can put together your location, your history/data, and your context to “do the right thing.” This is in the realm of magical, and although folks will freak out about privacy and “big brother knows too much!” the good side is that it can deliver humane results.

Google has the chops on the server, it is their DNA, so I expect them to push hard here. The more data you have to work with the better you can service the client, so as the data and the algorithms get better we will see more and more magic.


Android has a lot of applications. There is more of a push on all digital content. However, we are dealing with many wall gardens, which is frustrating for customers.

If a user has their content in iOS apps, and tons of music and movies in the iTunes locker, it can be hard to make a switch to an Android device. You can have the same feeling as if you have an amazing VHS collection and then a new betamax player comes out with some nice features that you would love to try.

Man, what a battle. We are finally at a place where the fight is competitive and I hope that each side keeps pushing and we continue to see a fantastic tug of war.

Jun 28

The Software Platform War; Seeing a cool VHS player with your betamax collection behind you

Apple, Google, Tech No Comments »

You can argue about iOS vs. Android. Ben would still come down on the iOS side, but you can see that he is at least thinking about it now. It is a debate. There used to be few to no features that iOS users wanted. Now there are plenty (from new: offline voice controls, to older: decent home screen w/ widgets and Intents).

It is fascinating to watch the old Steve Jobs All Things D interviews. At D2 in 2004 Steve talks about how, even though Apple is pretty good at the hardware thing, the differention is in the software. Folks can catch up on the hardware. Now, Apple has done an amazing job on the hardware, and their scale + deals + how they have taken so much of the work in house (e.g. their chips) has kept them mainly in the lead.

When I look at Jelly Bean I see some nice new features and a lot of important catch up (e.g. buttery scrolling and UI performance in general!) It also feels like most of the leaps in UX on the phone itself is to do with server side smarts. The Google Now work, and putting together info on “hey, head to the airport now! the traffic sucks”. This is great news for Google as they know the cloud and computing smarts. Apple has iCloud and is growing there too, but Google should enjoy fighting more of the battle in the cloud.

Even seeing new interesting features, I feel like I have deja vu from some old times. When I see the cool Nexus Q, it feels like I am looking at a great VHS recorder with interesting features…. but my collection is in betamax tapes. The digital lockers of Apple, Google, and Amazon are locking us in (even with some ability to get content out… like doing a tape to tape). It also feels like the days of having an Atari ST when friends had Amiga’s; ZX Spectrum vs. Commodore. It is frustrating to have to make a choice.

Competition may be good in that it will spur the horse along faster, but it sure can feel frustrating. That magical time when the content you wanted was all in the Web isn’t there in quite the same way (even with lockin on websites).

Until we get more hardware improvements (e.g. Glass) the battle field will be through client software and software in the cloud. An exciting battle for sure.

Mar 10

Can this tablet thing be a massive fad?

Apple, Tech, iPhone 3 Comments »


I mean, who buys Hula Hoops, Furbies, and lava lamps no mo?

Farhad Manjoo lays out his case on how the iPad could be unbeatable, and how competitors may be just hoping that the tablet is a fad.

I know that the iPad was purchased more than any laptop from another manufacturer… but I can also sniff the fad.

I remember getting the first iPad… such a long couple of years ago. At first it was fun to explore the touch interface, and I carried it everywhere I went. I felt like a dork pulling it out for meetings, so I kept it tucked away, but it had its place.

Shortly thereafter however, I got a MacBook Air, which is by far the best computer I have ever owned. Comparing my iPad to my 17″ Macbook Pro was different to the new work of the light, small, SSD packing, powerful Macbook Air. At this point the iPad stayed in my bag so much more. It turned out that having a keyboard was a nice feature! As was this “hinge” thing that meant that I didn’t have to hold the device…. and I could have multiple windows on the same screen (which was nicer than putting my iPad in a keyboard dock say).

My iPad is now a niche product. I enjoy it for certain tasks, mainly content consumption, but it is niche. So…. maybe this is a fad! The iPad killer could be the Macbook Air! In fact, the killer could be an Air with a retina display and the ability to touch the screen and undock it!

That doesn’t work though, as the UI would then end up in old Windows stylus land. OS X isn’t ever going to be touch friendly like iOS. Mixing and matching iOS and OS X though? Mmmm.

Then I turn from myself, and I think about my Mum and mother-in-law. I got them both iPads in short order as I saw a consumer-oriented OS for the first time. Instead of being afraid of messing up their computer, or worrying about viruses and the like…. they were free to explore and get things done. They would never go back to an OS of yore. Surely this market is the lion share. Add to that the fact that iOS will grow and grow, and I think that the fad isn’t here chaps. Time to dig in and execute.

But, there lies the other problem that Farhad Manjoo articulated. Many have told me that iOS vs. Android will end up as MacOS vs. Windows. “History will repeat itself”. That assumes that the same natural forces are in play, and I think there are huge differences. One big one is that the CLONES can’t just come in and win here. I had a huge gulp when I HP bought Palm and I quickly saw that we couldn’t make a tablet for the same price as the iPad. HP. They have scale. And, they couldn’t do it. Apple loves their margins and all, but they have a lot of room to make life reaaal hard for any competitor. You can’t just make something meh and cheap and win.

Also, the nail in the coffin, we have seen the tablet in the future…. on Star Trek, as seen at the top of this entry. Maybe a hip flash is good enough.

Mar 06

Messages Beta, iCloud, Apple ID, so near yet so far.

Apple, Tech Comments Off

When I installed the Messages Beta, I was surprised to launch it and see two world colliding in such an obvious way:


One window from each world…. from AIM and iMessage. I agree with Francisco on how weak the beta is, and it once again got me frustrated on how we are far from the unified world that Apple has the power to make happen in their eco-system.

My assumption when iMessage came along was that finally my phone number and email (and Apple ID) were all joined together. The fruit of this would surely be the following: when someone sends me a message to my email, the Apple system knows my phone, and that it isn’t available on the iMessage system, and thus I end up with a text message. Now that, would be magical. Instead I found myself confused in a sea of “OK, so if you iMessage me using my email it will get to my various devices, but now I can’t text message you back”.

It was the same feeling that I have had with Apple ID’s for some time. In the world of my home media, I want to be able to share my media across the devices that my family uses. Ideally there would be a root account of some kind, but I could delegate, so my wife could see and share all of the media too. Instead I end up in a world of setting up the store / home media sharing with one ID and making sure they are all in sync.

Then we have iCloud.

It feels like we are so close to a system that “just works”, yet right now…. it feels so far.

Aug 03

Bad Email UI

Apple, Tech, UI / UX 2 Comments »

It is so easy to nitpick on UI…. but this one gets to me everytime, and doubly so that it comes from Apple (known for user experience).

Season Pass Email

There are two links in the email. One is at the top, and the other is after the header showing the name of the show. The one next to the show sends you to preferences rather than downloading the darn thing! Both are “click here”.

How about a big link/button: “Download your show now”.

Is this just me?

Jul 26

Lion wimpers on Spaces

Apple, Tech, UI / UX No Comments »


There have been a slew of posts on Lion since launch. As with any new change of experience, there are bound to be detractors as well as well wishers. Just look at the new Facebook groups that jump to light whenever Facebook changes a pixel on the screen.

Lion has been somewhat buggy for me, and slower than its leaner leopard friend. The “natural” scrolling was a pain for a few minutes, but a couple of days in and your brain flips. In fact, even when I hit the up and down keys my mind considers them working on the paper as opposed to the scroll bar (and thus it goes the wrong way).

Sometimes one step forward can be one step behind. I just witnessed this over the weekend when voice mail was installed on the land line at my families cabin in Colorado. Before-hand, we had an old digital answering machine system. How archaic! As we setup voicemail we consider the improvements:

  • “Now we can check this from anywhere!”
  • “If the phone line isn’t working, voice mail can still be left by the caller!”

However, you then realize that you lose benefits:

  • “How do we see if someone has left a call?” Before-hand you could glance at the phone to see if there are new messages. We would need to purchase something that could do that for us now. Instead, you have to pick up the phone and listen for the tell tale voice mail beep.
  • “How can I screen a call?” Before-hand if someone called and you didn’t know / didn’t want to pick up right away… you could listen to them leaving the message and even jump in to pick it up mid way

This feeling of “step forward or step back?” is how I feel about the whole mission control / spaces overhaul. I really enjoy putting some apps full screen. However, that breaks my workflow. You see, I have a series of spaces that are configured for different use cases. I access them via Apple-1, Apple-2, etc. If Apple-2 has been my “calendar” space, I could wish to instead have a full screen calendar in that place. Unfortunately, as soon as you full screen an application it lives in its own space, and one that you can’t directly access via a quick key like that. So, I am now forced to keep Calendar out of full screen mode, and it becomes a tease.

When plugged into a monitor, I am further teased with full screen. It doesn’t take into account anything more than the one main screen. I can no longer have my email full screen on the main screen with my calendar staring at my from my laptop screen.

Ah shucks. I look forward to a world where I can neatly configure my various use cases (if plugged in, keep X, Y, and Z over on my secondary screen, else put them on these spaces).

Although we hear more about the visual changes within Lion, it appears that the under the hood changes are really the most important (security sandboxes, versions, etc).

Jun 24

An Epic conversation between Steve Jobs and developers from WWDC 97

Apple, Tech with tags: , 6 Comments »

It is always fantastic to get a blast from the past, and DHH linked to a conversation between Steve Jobs’ and developers from WWDC in 1997.

I find it fascinating. Steve was back as an advisor, but not in as CEO yet, so he talks about Apple in a very specific way…. and all throughout his time he keeps saying “my opinion is …. but I am not in charge”.

At one point, he mentions the frustration that people can have when they are perceived in one way, based on an old version of themselves. Or maybe an incorrectly perceived old version. The context for this is how the press or wall street was looking at Apple with year old glasses.

In this video, we get to see an older Steve, with immense skills. It is enjoyable to pick out the genesis of the Apple transformation, and visionary aspects of what happened. It is equally interesting to see where the vision didn’t bear fruit.

My highlights were:

  • It was fun to see Steve talk about Rhapsody and how developers can go cross platform! In response to a developer asking why they should write for Mac he said: “If you could write that software 5 to 10 times faster, and you could deploy it to Mac’s and PCs, would that be of interest to them?” Of course, Rhapsody didn’t work (which is why Steve may have flipped the bit on cross platform?)
  • Steve was spot on when he discussed the “Mythical Man Month”, and how he feels a new stack needs to help you abstract so small teams can do amazing things. He discussed how you can compete with Microsoft with apps as large software becomes hard to scale. He also talks about Lighthouse (bought by Sun, with Jonny Schwartz) and how a small team of 18 people produced an amazing suite of products.
  • Steve was coming out of a world where he had a personal T1, and his home directory lived in the cloud via NFS. He talks about having a computer that is just a keyboard and mouse. The “network computer” was strong in him (and Larry Ellison, and Sun) and he talked about it in a way that is much closer to Chrome OS than to iOS. iCloud is finally getting there, but in a different way.
  • Newton and focus. Focus came up frequently. Steve talked about how he thinks Newton should be shot NOT because it sucks… but because he couldn’t see a way for Apple to maintain MacOS, Rhapsody, and Newton’s OS. He did also talk about how the fact that Newton wasn’t network connected made it useless for him. “The high order bit of connectivity. Being in touch to a network. I don’t think the world is about keeping my life on this little thing and IRing it to a base station. It needs a keyboard, and you need to be connected to the net. So if someone would make a thing that is connected with a keyboard I would love to buy one! I don’t want a little scribble thing.”
  • CLONE WARS: “I believe that Apple should license everything. But I think they should get a fair price for it.” Funny to see Steve talking about licensing.
  • “Being proprietary in everything we do has really hurt us, a lot of smart people don’t work at Apple too.” Love see him talking about proprietary.
  • Steve talked about how engineering management was broken, and so great engineers were not working on the right things. Great technology isn’t the high end bit either. You have to work from the product backwards.
  • Steve cares about productivity. He mentioned how he sees Apple using crap tools (Eudora for email) and that if they would give the org a decent email system they could be 30% more productive.
  • Steve kept saying “it doesn’t matter what I say”. A funny time, before he was CEO, but you can see it unravelling.
  • Fun to see Steve pimping and trying to get devs excited, at a time where they didn’t have the marketshare. Now the game is quite different.
  • Steve is someone with great taste…. but even he wore patched jeans!

A great chat, and I am glad it was recorded for us to see the master at work. I hope that we have many more years of this.

Jun 13

The “I” in iCloud and the “We” in Web

Apple, Mobile, Open Web No Comments »

iOS 5 is a big release for Apple. It is their move away from the PC being the hub, and now we can talk to the big old iTunes in the sky. Android and webOS folk may scoff a little at this. “We have had over the air updates for ages!”, “Those notifications look familiar”, “In fact, my notifications are still far superior!”

It is great to see systems competing, and non iOS systems having advantages, but they shouldn’t get carried away. iOS is still the king. That is where the best apps can be found (ironically even though it is so restrictive), and the UI is still the most responsive and easy to use. Android is looking good and getting better rapidly, and is superior in real ways (e.g. navigation, deep integrations, etc) but again, it has room to grow too.

I was recently watching a tablet user study, and one of the users talked about how they thought that their tablet apps were so much better than the phone counter-parts. Really? Why did they think that? The reasons given were: easier to use, more stable, more responsive, and much more beautiful. Huh? Well, it turned out that this user had an iPad and an Android device. Ahhhhhh.

What struck me about the “cloud” side of iOS 5, was how it squarely goes after helping you manage your devices. The big pain point mentioned was getting content onto your laptop, tablet, and phone. What it lacked was the “we” part of sharing. I am very curious to see if this is a point of view, or a baby step. It is much easy to scale out the problem of “I”…. much easier to shard.

I have the pain that Steve mentioned with my devices, but I also have much more. For one, I don’t just have iOS/Mac devices, so how do I get them in on this action? For two, I have a family, and I want to help manage their world too. The tablet is a very social and shared device for some people. It gets passed around the family table. The same device could have your work email and calendar, as well as games for the kids.

One of the reasons that I bought an iPad 2 was because I could hide it, and the first generation could be the “family one”, leaving me my own. Now, you may think that Apple won here since I got a new device, but it feels natural that another tablet system will actually cater for the user here. I would be shocked if at some point in time, you don’t just pick up a tablet, the camera sees who you are, and you are shown your view into the world.

Beyond sharing a physical device, there is sharing data. Apple thinks in a very app-centric model (which has done very well for them!) and it is hard enough to share between apps, let alone beyond that.

Joshua Topolsky discusses Apple’s truth on the iCloud which hits this home.

While I won’t argue that Apple and others have had tremendous success with native apps and services, it’s also impossible to downplay the importance of the web and what it brings to applications. It’s not just that many of the applications we use are actually intimately tied to the web (even Apple’s own products are able to make quick changes like the switch to iCloud services in iOS 4.3 thanks to markup being used in place of native code), it’s that the web provides something native applications cannot. There is no native application for the Mac or iOS that replicates the shared document editing of Google Docs; there’s no mail application that exists for the Mac which will allow me to access my important information from anywhere in the world with or without a device in hand; there is no photo sharing service for iOS or the Mac which is as flexible or accessible as Flickr. When I need to access music with my Rdio account, I can do it from a plain old web browser, or an Android, iOS, or even BlackBerry application — and the ability to shift between those portals is incredibly powerful.

When it comes to Apple, it feels to me like the company views the web as a technology which undermines rather than enriches its products. It wants you to talk to the cloud, but only through its portals and its gateways, in closed loops and private networks. Is it possible that for the company Apple has become — the lock-in PC-maker, the gatekeeper, the retailer — there’s still a little too much Wild West in the web? Is Apple’s failure with or aversion to web services a byproduct of the desire for complete control over its ecosystem and products? Or is the gang in Cupertino just not that good at the internet?

The Web, though very simple standards (HTTP, URL, HTML, etc) is very much about connecting. This results in applications that can share data (even in the same UI such as mashups), and it is very natural to have a group aspect to the data. This means that we need permissions models around such data, and along with that we have the base APIs being built around URLs.

iCloud APIs on the other hand have an SDK that is built top down. The center of the world is Objective-C, now low level network primitives. This is a very different way to look at the problem, and you end up with obviously iOS-centric (if not “only” right now) views.

Wil Shipley himself links to questions on the Apple Dev Forum around how this system can work. The questions themselves can’t be questioned due to the restrictive systems in place.

There are a couple of social aspects of iOS shining through. Game center is one, but the biggest news here is the integration of Twitter, which is absolutely massive. Having the throne as the only integrated account (and most importantly, not having Facebook there) means that Twitter can take a huge run at social APIs that it maybe wouldn’t have cared as much about before hand.

It continues to be a great time to be in tech. Apple has made many small but important strides in iOS 5. Android “ice cream” is coming. And then we have the other mobile operating systems (Windows, webOS, etc) who are embracing the Web heavily.

When I think about the “we”, I definitely think back to my former thought that HTML5 is a jewel that we need to cut into a weapon.

Feb 21

Too greedy? A shift in the force

Apple, Mobile, Open Web 8 Comments »

apple greedy

The ripple effect from the Apple announcement on their 30% cut of subscription services is still going strong. Firstly, it is obvious that Apple has every right to do this.

The Readability folk wrote an Open Letter that plainly states:

To be clear, we believe you have every right to push forward such a policy. In our view, it’s your hardware and your channel and you can put forth any policy you like. But to impose this course on any web service or web application that delivers any value outside of iOS will only discourage smaller ventures like ours to invest in iOS apps for our services.

This is the heart of the matter for me. John Gruber started to poke holds in the article:

Maybe I’m missing something, but these guys claiming to be surprised and disappointed by Apple’s insistence on a 30 percent cut of subscriptions when their own business model is to take a 30 percent cut of subscriptions strikes me as rich. And how can they claim that Readability isn’t “serving up content”? That’s exactly what Readability does. What they’re pissed about is that Apple has the stronger hand. Readability needs Apple to publish an app in the App Store. Apple doesn’t need Readability.

This side steps the main issue. It isn’t about the right to take the 30%. The problem is that some of the companies don’t have a business model that fits this change. It especially hurts models that pass money back to another entity. Even a pure model such as 37signals Basecamp would need to do the math on what 30% of their monthly fees would mean to their bottom line. Add to the fact that the iOS price has to the lowest means that all prices may have to change.

And then there is the infrastructure. You can imagine that it would take some effort for Amazon to build an in-app purchasing system, and this is work that takes away from building out other infrastructure. I know, they should just suck it up.

However, at a time where iOS and Android competition is at its strongest, Apple makes a change that alienates developers and businesses. Apple has always had an interesting relationship with developers. There was the 3.3.1 issue, and the general fact that they are very closed. However, even with all of that, developers could understand it. The 30% though feels like too much greed. Oh, come on, I hear you say. How much does the retail chain charge you as the middle man? This is a great deal! “Apple has brought back the shrinkwrapped software business!”

30% is changing the tide though. Many of these companies will be looking much more strongly at other platforms, and investing in those platforms (Android, Web, and maybe others).

John thinks that “Apple doesn’t need Readability.” It isn’t about not having one app. The balance in the ecosystem is changing. Many of the Big Apps will be investing more elsewhere than before.

Maybe this will blow over and the iOS ecosystem is so strong that it doesn’t really matter. Maybe Apple will see that it has gotten “too greedy” (not that they don’t have the right, but that it isn’t worth the hit to the ecosystem) and will lower the % or make other changes for different types of subscriptions.

It will be interesting to see. It definitely feels like there is a disturbance in the force.


Chris Leydon has commented saying that:

We have no issue whatsoever with Apple taking a 30% from our app… they just won’t provide us for the means to do it and inadvertently lock us out from the app store.

A bulk of the TinyGrab post goes into detail on how they break various infringement numbers and how, because of limitations in the AppStore, they can’t do business there. One key item is the fact that you don’t get info on the purchaser (and thus without having that connection you can’t do things like offer free access via another app), as well as other items around “rental” and unlocking features. If you want to get creative (or just offer simple use cases for your users!) with the way that you do business, you may not be able to work within the Apple system.

Oct 21

“What is just as important is what isn’t in the system”; Apple, Java, and the Mac App Store

Apple, JavaScript, Tech 2 Comments »


As always, I am an incredibly torn individual after yet another Stevenote and recent Apple news. Apple is incredibly proud not just about what they manage to put into their products, but what they manage to keep out of them. Steve mentioned this again as he discussed the innards of the new Macbook Air products. The other example that comes to mind is their remote, which is laughable when placed next to TV remotes.

We have been opining for a long time about the obvious merge of iOS and OS X. For awhile people would argue about which side would win out, where “win out” means having the most DNA in the future. With Lion, we got just a glimpse on the next round of evolution. The first iOS DNA to get in is that of the app store (pre-Lion even), some look and feel (did you see the toolbar icons on the top of the Mac App Store app?), and the developer features around auto-save, resume where you left off, etc. Having OSX and iOS merge makes total sense to me. As much as I like the Mac, it is a workstation operating system. It was only when I gave my Mum an iPad that I felt like she felt safe and not scared of her computing environment. When I put on a certain consumer hat, I am so looking forward to the Mac App Store. Finally an install and discovery process that makes sense for my Mum. The Mac has arguably the easiest system, but even with DMG’s the process goes wrong every time:

“Wait, you have to double click on the DMG which will mount a drive. No…. don’t launch the app from within there you need to drag it out. No…. don’t drag it to the desktop, you have to put it in the Applications folder”

You can certainly argue that the controlled experience that we are about to get on the Mac will be good for consumers in a large number of ways. Apple is getting ~20% market share at this point, so they may be able to head the virus war at the pass by controlling the apps. And we can see what they have in mind with this control by looking at the review guidelines for the store Here are some of the functional guidelines:

  • Apps that crash, exhibit bugs or do not perform as advertised by the developer will be rejected, as will be apps that are “beta”, “demo”, “trial”, or “test” versions. Apps that use non-public APIs or include undocumented or hidden features inconsistent with the description of the app will be rejected.
  • Apps that duplicate apps already in the App Store may be rejected, particularly if there are many of them. Apps that are not very useful or do not provide any lasting entertainment value may be rejected. Apps that are primarily marketing materials or advertisements will be rejected. Apps that are intended to provide trick or fake functionality that are not clearly marked as such will be rejected.
  • Apps that encourage excessive consumption of alcohol or illegal substances, or encourage minors to consume alcohol or smoke cigarettes, will be rejected. Apps that provide incorrect diagnostic or other inaccurate device data will be rejected. Developers ’spamming’ the App Store with many versions of similar apps will be removed from the Mac Developer Program.
  • Apps must be packaged and submitted using Apple’s packaging technologies included in Xcode – no third party installers allowed. Apps must be self-contained, single application installation bundles, and cannot install code or resources in shared locations. Apps that download or install additional code or resources to add functionality or change their primary purpose will be rejected.
  • Apps that download other standalone apps will be rejected. Apps that install kexts (kernel extensions) will be rejected. Apps that require license keys or implement their own copy protection will be rejected. Apps that present a license screen at launch will be rejected. Apps may not use update mechanisms outside of the App Store.
  • Apps must contain all language support in a single app bundle (single binary multiple language). Apps that spawn processes that continue to run after a user has quit the app without user consent will be rejected. Apps that use deprecated or optionally installed technologies (e.g., Java, [PowerPC code requiring] Rosetta) will be rejected.
  • Apps that do not run on the currently shipping OS will be rejected. Apps that are set to auto-launch or to have other code automatically run at startup or login without user consent will be rejected. Apps that request escalation to root privileges or use setuid attributes will be rejected.
  • Apps that add their icons to the Dock or leave short cuts on the user desktop will be rejected. Apps that do not use the appropriate Mac OS X APIs for modifying user data stored by other apps (e.g bookmarks, Address Book or Calendar entries) will be rejected. Apps that do not comply with the Mac OS X File System documentation will be rejected.

Wow, if we are both writing an application that does “the same thing” right now and I get it in the store before you, there is a chance yours could be blocked? I know that they are probably putting this in place to stop a million fart apps, but wow!

No way to handle beta apps and the like? Most of the apps that I run are actually beta (Chrome dev channel, Evernote beta, etc). At this point I would expect you to say “No one is forcing you to use the Mac App Store! You can buy and install apps just as you do now. Nothing has been taken away.” Absolutely, but it isn’t a huge leap to a see a future where this isn’t the case, and even in the meantime, it will be a pain to manage some apps via the store, and some outside of that process. It won’t be a great experience.

There is another way that the policies poke me. If we think back to when the iPhone came out with app support, they were actually more open than many of the alternatives. It was hell getting your apps provisioned on many of the platforms and the carriers had control. There is also a feeling of “hey, this is my phone, I really need someone testing things at my back as I can’t have my phone compromised in any way.” But on the desktop, even though these “devices” are all merging, it feels different. Feeling like the control is being taken from me feels weird. Do you feel that too?


Then we have Java. I actually wanted Sun to take over the OSX version of Java awhile ago, so it makes sense that the Apple team has deprecated its support. The Mac team was tiny and thus it wasn’t able to get much love, even though the engineers (we met them) were awesome. Now Oracle can hopefully step up and give us something great. This isn’t a great solution if you ship Swing apps (as my Mum won’t have Java installed, who knows if they will get anything that looks native etc), but fine if you are a Java developer who wants to develop on a Mac. I do wonder if any developers will reconsider Linux or even Windows as an alternative, and I am also thinking about what the Enterprise will think of this. For Apple, they have got rid of a support burden which didn’t bring them any great apps that they care about, and there is less of an attack surface area. Again, taking things out is good for Apple.

The much bigger news for Java fans is the fact that Java developers won’t be able to put their wares into the Mac App Store.

This may bolster the Web. Will the destiny pan out where it can be the unifying cross platform solution? For now, you can hopefully even write Cocoa apps using JavaScript, and of course the full Web stack is available. But what about the flip side?


I know. Those Mozilla hippies over-reacting again right. This will never happen. Apple loves the Web. How much do they love the Web as they need it (a) because uses want it, b) because it gives them a foil to the restrictions “look, we support the standard Web!”) and is there a chance we will be misaligned in the future? They may not cut Safari off at the knees, but what about a softer approach of not investing in WebKit as much (thanks for open source here!) and not shipping great versions.

If you look forward a few years and see that on the App Store they are bringing in 30% of revenue from their native environment, suddenly successful Web apps are losing them direct money. Hmm.

I think it is natural and smart for us to think about what is happening in the industry, and it isn’t fair to be called out as “over reacting” when someone brings up a “what if?”. We need to think critically. History has shown us time after time that alignments change.

That being said, Apple is building terrific product, and they offer real value to consumers (versus pure business lock in on crappy product, which we have seen in the past!). They have made computing so much better for so many people. They are providing opportunity for developers. They push the entire industry which is in such an exciting time. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Where do we go from here?