Ole Begemann

iOS Development

iOS and Mac Development Link Roundup: June 2011

Here is my summary of the past month in links:

WWDC 2011

WWDC is over and the session videos are out. OS X Lion has lots of cool new features, though Mac developers have known about most of them for a while. The big WWDC news for developers: tons of new stuff in iOS 5 and, of course, iCloud, designed to become the next game changer. Gone is the digital hub, the Mac demoted to just another device.

Apple is betting on a vision that is different from Google’s, a world where the data lives in the cloud but access to it is hidden behind native apps. You don’t need a web browser to get the impression that your data is always there for you, no matter where you are and which device you use. For iCloud, Mac OS and iOS are equals. The cloud just works, to the extent that you shouldn’t even notice that it is there. Good news for Cocoa developers.

Another learning: Objective-C is very much alive and kicking. Apple seems totally committed to the language, and the switch to LLVM is a huge thing for the future improvement of the language. More good news for Cocoa developers.



Components and Libraries



App Store

Apple backpedaled on the strict in-app subscription rules they introduced in February. There is no longer a requirement that external content be offered through in-app purchase at all and at the same price or less than outside an app. This is a very welcome change before the June 30 deadline expired that Apple had set developers to comply with the rules.

With iA Writer for Mac as the example, Dan Wineman reminds us of a useful lesson when pricing our own apps: don’t try to commoditize your own product just because Apple does something similar. Apple is playing a different game. Oliver Reichenstein from Information Architects expands on this and compares the performance of iA Writer on the Mac App Store to the iOS App Store. Key finding: the two ecosystems are two very different beasts.

Martin Schultz shares sales numbers of his game Hard Rock Racing on the Mac App Store. Even after being featured by Apple and reaching the number 3 spot of paid games in the US, it sold only 743 copies on its best day.

David Heinemeier Hansson argues that ten apps is all he needs; competitors shouldn’t need a massive App Store to compete with Apple if they do the basic apps that everybody uses really well. David Barnard has a very good reply with The Eleventh App: every single user might only use a small number of apps but at least some of these apps will be different from person to person.




Patents are on their best way to become a recurring topic here.

After Lodsys’s decision to sue some app developers over infringement, Apple filed a motion to intervene in the proceedings on behalf of their developers. Meanwhile, several companies decided to file lawsuits against Lodsys (one, two, three, four) with the aim of invalidating all four Lodsys patents, in response to which Lodsys sued another ten companies (bigger names this time), possibly to avoid more pre-emptive countersuits. Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents covered all this in admirable detail. We haven’t heard any news from the targeted app developers lately. It is probably safe to say that they have been in discussion with Apple and agreed to not talk publicly about it. Lodsys has apparently asked for time until July 27, 2011, to answer Apple’s motion to intervene.

Macrosolve, the other company that is currently targeting app developers, sued another 20 companies over a patent reagrding electronic forms.

What does this mean for developers? Craig Grannell offers a grim outlook:

Dear developers: in future, make sure you check every aspect of everything you do against every patent that has ever existed, ever.

Meanwhile, it seems that all big phone companies are happily suing each other. Who benefits? Apple and Nokia settled their patent dispute last month with the probable result that Apple pays Nokia a per-iPhone royalty fee. Sounds bad for Apple but given that competitors are likely to infringe on the same patents it might actually be a good settlement.

To top it all off, an unlikely consortium of Apple, Microsoft and Sony (among others) just paid $4.5 billion(!) for Nortel’s patent portfolio. Crazy!

The more I read about this, the more I am convinced that the world would be a much better place if all patents were abolished. The only people profiting from this bullshit are the lawyers.