“I watch with increasing trepidation at the direction Apple is taking its products,” Danny Crichton writes for TechCrunch. “The most recent concern came yesterday from Bloomberg that Apple intends to offer its software developers new libraries that will allow apps to serve both touchscreen interfaces like the iPhone as well as traditional mouse and keyboard setups on desktop computers using a single unified set of APIs.”
“Ordinarily, such a change would be deeply welcomed. ‘Write once, run everywhere’ is the design philosophy behind Java and Node and a host of other programming environments, and for good reason. Unifying a codebase can usually reduce bugs, enhance stability and increase developer productivity, all of which ultimately benefit the end user,” Crichton writes. “Except, that is, when it comes to user interfaces. Despite attempts across the industry to fuse the concept of a desktop and a tablet, from the new Microsoft Surface tablets to Apple’s catch up with the iPad Pro, there remains an enormous productivity gap between desktop and mobile products that still hasn’t been bridged. The mouse, first invented in 1964, still holds its own against multitouch displays and styluses when it comes to actual productivity.”
“So I look at an announcement like a potential new fusion UI library, and I hesitate… the company could see an opportunity to really go for a true fusion operating system that would turn the MacBook Pro into a single continuous product line from the iPad, much in the vein of Microsoft’s Surface product strategy,” Crichton writes. “That would be a product disaster. The use cases are so different for each of these devices, and yet, Apple’s combined library would encourage developers to reuse their UI code from one device to another, rather than thinking through what is most optimal for each… I am concerned about all the deeper productivity tools that I use on a regular basis that may suddenly decide that the least common denominator feature set between desktop and mobile is suddenly what they are going to aim for.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Overwrought blather. Craig Federighi’s morning laugh.
Granted, Federighi’s team has come quality control issues that needed to be taken care of years ago, but he’s not stupid.
Apple knows the potential pitfalls Crichton describes well. Here’s Steve Jobs writing about them when discussing Adobe’s Flash in April 2010:
We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.
This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features. Again, we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor’s platforms. – Steve Jobs, April 2010
Think code convergence (more so than today) with UI modifications per device. A unified underlying codebase for Intel, Apple A-series, and, in Apple’s labs, likely other chips, too (just in case). This would allow for a single App Store for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users that features a mix of apps: Some that are touch-only, some that are Mac-only, and some that are universal (can run on both traditional notebooks and desktops as well as on multi-touch computers like iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and – pretty please, Apple – Apple TV). Don’t be surprised to see Apple A-series-powered Macs, either. — MacDailyNews Take, January 9, 2014
Project Marzipan: Can Apple succeed where Microsoft failed? – December 21, 2017
Apple is working to unite iOS and macOS; will they standardize their chip platform next? – December 21, 2017
Why Apple would want to unify iOS and Mac apps in 2018 – December 20, 2017
Apple to provide tool for developers build cross-platform apps that run on iOS and macOS in 2018 – December 20, 2017
The once and future OS for Apple – December 8, 2017
On the future of Apple’s Macintosh – February 6, 2017
Tim Bajarin: I see Apple moving many users to an iOS-based mobile device over the next 3-4 years – November 7, 2016