Facebook app developer who quit iPhone: Apple’s iPad is an incredible opportunity

“Most of the iPad reactions I’ve read have been negative, but I have been completely satisfied with what Apple announced. iPad is exactly the product I’ve been wishing for ever since I wrapped my mind around the iPhone and its constraints. While the rumor mill was churning with all kinds of crazy possibilities for the Apple tablet, I mostly rolled my eyes, because I felt strongly that all Apple needed to do to revolutionize computing was simply to make an iPhone with a large screen. Anyone who feels underwhelmed by that doesn’t understand how much of the iPhone OS’s potential is still untapped,” Joe Hewitt blogs.

“I spent a year and a half attempting to reduce a massive, complex social networking website into a handheld, touch-screen form factor. My goal was initially just to make a mobile companion for the facebook.com mothership, but once I got comfortable with the platform I became convinced it was possible to create a version of Facebook that was actually better than the website! Of all the platforms I’ve developed on in my career, from the desktop to the web, iPhone OS gave me the greatest sense of empowerment, and had the highest ceiling for raising the art of UI design,” Hewitt writes. “Except there was one thing keeping me from reaching that ceiling: the screen was too small.”

“At some point I came to the conclusion that Facebook on iPhone OS could not truly exceed the website until I could adapt it to a screen size closer to a laptop,” Hewitt explains. “It needed to support more than one column of information at a time. I couldn’t fit enough tools on the screen to support any kind of advanced creative work. Photos were too small to show off to my far-sighted parents. The web required too much panning and zooming to enjoy reading. Beyond just Facebook, most of the apps I used most on my iPhone also suffered from these limitations, like Google Reader, Instapaper, and all image, video, and text editing tools. The bottom line is, many apps which were cute toys on iPhone can become full-featured power tools on the iPad, making you forget about their desktop/laptop predecessors. We just have to invent them.”

MacDailyNews Note: In November 2009, Hewitt decided to stop developing for the iPhone platform over issues he had with Apple’s App Store policies.

Hewitt continues, “iPad is an incredible opportunity for developers to re-imagine every single category of desktop and web software there is. Seriously, if you’re a developer and you’re not thinking about how your app could work better on the iPad and its descendants, you deserve to get left behind… iPad offers new metaphors that will let users engage with their computers with dramatically less friction. That gives me, as a developer, a sense of power and potency and creativity like no other. It makes the software market feel wide open again, like no one’s hegemony is safe. How anyone can feel underwhelmed by that is beyond me.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Welcome back, Joe!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Frank P” for the heads up.]


  1. at any positive as the reaction to this iPad is running from disappointment to ridicule. Anyone losing sleep in Cupertino?

    The strategy of holding back on features to entice first adopters to buy again in a few months may not work this time.

  2. I have the feeling…okay, what I want
    by the time the iPad goes on sale the OS will have already been updated to 4.0 and a touch optimized iLife.
    at least by june…

    i wonder which auto company will put this in first, be pretty sick in car…

  3. “How anyone can feel underwhelmed by that is beyond me.”

    Those negative shortsighted comments are coming from advocates of the Windows/Netbooks/Kindle/PC world. Their biggest fear is losing another space in the market because they know that the products and company they advocate could never deliver a true innovative product the way Apple can. Developers and tech writers with a brain can see the writing on the wall. You Windows/Netbooks/WinMo//Kindle/BB/Palm/Zune HD… just got owned by Apple.

    Developers need to read this article to realize the potential to truly create amazing magical software for this new platform from Apple. Apple is pushing us towards the future. You can get on board or stay behind and play with your crappy POS Windows/Palm/Rim/Netbook/ZuneHD…..See Ya!

  4. Developers start your coders… The people that will strike it rich with iPad apps will be the first one into iPad app Pool. If you snooze you’ll loose or worse get left behind.

  5. Yes….

    I am no developer, the only thing I didn’t like was no front camera bcoz of video conferencing.

    I knew in my mind after viewing the ipad presentations and reading many many comments about it, I too agree that the ipad out-of-the box is not “spectacular” since it’s just a bigger iPod touch.

    However, I do believe it is a fantastic platform for many cool things to come. I love my iPod touch, feels great to use, fun to play with with both hands and fingers, first device that makes me feel I am really interacting with contents.

    And I do agree that ipad would give a great new ui experiences when developers really use it to the potential.

    How fun it will be if we can manipulate contents with 2 hands / or five fingers if we were holding the pad with 1 hand.

  6. Some things I would have liked to see is…
    Why are there no folders? You can with it jailbroken.. it wouldn’t kill to add folder support to this.. maybe when they release it there will be a new iOS update for the ipad and iphone/touch

    Also.. the icons looks pretty far spread apart.. they should have made the icons bigger in my opinion or smaller and fit more in there. Since this has enough screen why cant we just resize the icons ourselves?

    thirdly the dock… I’d like to have that dock on the iphone.. looks cooler. Plus.. it should act like osx… more icons you add the smaller the icons get.. just set a limit of 8 icons or something.. or slap in a folder and have it work just like in snow leopard.. you hold on the folder and a menu comes up of other apps you have in it and maybe sub folders within that.

    All of which I think is done in jailbreak.. but would be really awesome to have which is why I may just jailbreak this iphone for the folder feature.. I’m sure many of you would agree if you have many games you’d rather go to one folder and see them all instead of swiping through a few pages… sure the search thing is cool but I also like seeing the items.

    I guess 4thly when my uncle gets the ipad im thinking of buying the stylus I’ve seen people use on the iphone. If this thing could be plugged into the mac and used as a drawing tablet that would be amazing. the waacom ones are nice.. but your drawing on a blank surface… I’d love to be able to open photoshop or illustrator and just use the ipad as my artboard..

    my 2 cents

  7. Old geezers like me who were pioneers into the whole personal computer age as well as the later generation who just loved to tinker with their computers will whine about how the pad is a closed environment and how Steve is making all the decisions.
    Well, welcome to the new age.
    This thing is truly an “appliance.”
    It’s going to change the world. Even if you can’t open it up and play with it’s guts, or any of the other things we all did back in the day.
    I’ve been waiting for this exact thing for some ten years.
    It’s great.

  8. If you can’t see it, you can’t create it. Most doubters don’t see it. Most of the so-called “missing” stuff are just a conventional laundry list of yesterday’s features, and it blocks them from seeing the future.

    Most people’s experience with a touch screen today is either on their smartphone, or watching the giant touch screens on TV shows and movies. A year or two from now, most software that does not require heavy text input will be expected to be touch-enabled, and people won’t even give Apple the credit of ushering in the new interactive computing era to the consumer masses.

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