April 2010 Archives

This is About More Developers for the Mac

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In the wake of Apple's press event announcing the latest software update to its mobile platform due out this summer, John Gruber and other suggests that, with an interesting modification to the developer agreement, Apple is trying to increase the quality of applications created for their growing family of mobile multi-touch devices.

Specifically the new agreement, which developers must accept in order to use the latest development kit, bans the use of cross-platform compilers in creating applications for the iPhone/iPad/iPod touch.

That is to develop software for the upcoming iPhone OS release a developer has one of two options; use Apple's development environment, complete with compiler and programming interfaces to develop an application specifically designed for the iPhone/iPad/iPod or target multiple platforms by building a web app that can also run in the web browser, Safari.

However, the restriction goes, you cannot develop using, for example, Adobe's pending Flash update which is designed to enable the building of an application in one environment, Flash, and in turn, recompiled for multiple, "less powerful" platforms such as the Android or Windows smartphones.

Yet, as other commentators have noted, Apple already reserves the right to review apps submitted to their iTunes store and that hasn't stopped the store from getting bogged down with lots of crappy apps.

Thus, their logic goes, Apple is really trying to lock in developers. If you want to develop for the iPhone, which everyone has, you can only use our toolkit. Oh and you have to pay us $99 to get a copy of the developer kit. Oh and the software developer kit only runs on a Mac, which only we make, so that will be another $1,000. Mahhhaaaa, we're so evil....

But one Hacker News commentator, thought_alarm, I think is on the right track noting, "Few developers have any experience with Cocoa or Objective-C."


Compared to the number of Windows developers or web developers out there, few have developed using Cocoa or Objective-C given the Mac's market share compared to other computers. Few individuals or companies have looked to develop Mac-only or Mac specific applications.

But now the iPhone and iPad are the toast of the town. Everyone wants to get in while the getting is good. Naturally, Apple wants to capitalize on this.

Now, it just so happens that Xcode, the software development kit for the iPhone, is the exact same development kit Apple provides to Mac developers. Objective-C the exact same language. Cocoa Touch, a variation of the Cocoa framework for the Mac.

All these new iPhone developers have everything they need to develop for the Mac.

Apple isn't looking to lock in these iPhone developers, instead Apple is looking to open up the number of Apple developers out in the wild, be it iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac.

See, a few years ago, when the iPod was growing in popularity, there was a lot of talk about the "halo effect." The idea that consumers, who for whatever reason had ignored Apple and the Mac, but now wanted an iPod, would in turn take a second look at Apple when looking for their next computer purchase.

By all accounts the halo effect is real. While the PC industry has been in the dumps during the recent recession, Apple has sold record numbers of Macs.

But the Mac still doesn't command the market to demand individual developer's attention. The iPhone, however does. 

By getting developers to use only Apple's software development kit for the iPhone, Apple gets a chance to say "See how easy that was to develop for the iPhone? Now just imagine what you could do for the Mac! You already have everything you need to write a killer Mac application. Go on, we dare you!"

The only other option, developing a web application, still works overall in Apple's favor. Since the framework for Safari on the iPhone, Webkit, is the same that drives the Safari web browser on the Mac.

In other words, Apple is looking to grab the attention of developers, who for whatever reason had ignored Apple and the Mac, but now want to develop for the iPhone/iPad/iPod, and in turn might take a second look at the Mac when looking at their next software project.

Self-Publishing and Apple's iPad

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First published: 2th of April 2010 for Technorati

Since before Steve Jobs revealed the existence of the iPad to the general public, there were rumors about a tablet-like device from Apple that would revolutionize the print and newspaper businesses just as the iPod did to the music industry.

Sure enough, back in January, Apple was joined by a number of high profile book publishers, including HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette Book Group with the announcement of iBooks, an iPad specific app for reading books. Jobs demonstrated the application, which features a virtual bookshelf containing the user's personal collection of books noting "If you've used iTunes or the App Store, you're already familiar with this."

But what about self-publishers and bloggers?

Consider that in the iPod world, many indie artist are on near equal footing with major record labels. In fact, Apple even provides an "Indie Spotlight" section in the iTunes Music Store, which only features music from independent artists.

Or that the iPod prompted the term "podcasting" which, while not specifically meaning to broadcast via iTunes to individual iPods, is most certainly enhanced by the existence of the two and a simple way for many beginning self-broadcasters to get noticed.

So then what does the iPad provide for those who focus on symbols instead of sounds?

Smashwords, a site that enables authors to publish their own eBooks, recently notified its authors via email that it has signed a distribution deal with Apple which allows writers to offer their works for sale to iPad owners.

Smashwords already publishes eBooks for independent authors in nine formats and can distribute to a number of sites including Barnes & Noble and Kobo. So inking a publishing deal with Apple certainly makes sense and no doubt signals the beginning of numerous other independent and self-publishing services targeting the iPad's iBookstore.

Meanwhile, for bloggers and readers of various news feeds, Glasshouse Apps has developed what the Next Web is calling a "Gorgeous iPad RSS Reader." The app, called The Early Edition, arranges stories on the screen just like newspaper, but allows the user to customize which news sources to pull from and where to place individual stories.

These two early entries provide an interesting glimpse into what may indeed be not just the revolution of the print and distribution business, but an evolution of the writer as well.

What do you think? Will the iPad be a boon to independent and mainstream alike?

About the Author

Paul is a technologist and all around nice guy for technology oriented organizations and parties. Besides maintaining this blog and website you can follow Paul's particular pontifications on the Life Universe and Everything on Twitter.


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