Apple’s control freakery

Nice rant by Charles Arthur.

Apple’s top-down approach to design is a bust when it comes to its approach to the software for the iPhone. Developers for that are up in arms.

People are astonishingly angry at the fact that Apple first won’t let them talk about how to develop for the iPhone – because everything about programming for it remains under a non-disclosure agreement – and second, hasn’t let them get at its most useful application programming interfaces (APIs). Mike Ash, a programmer at the independent Mac developer Rogue Amoeba, has posted a long and annoyed rant about this in which he says that after a month using the new iPhone, with its new software: “I feel like I’ve gone back to the dark ages.” Multitasking is a thing of the past, and it’s impossible for third-party developers to design well, because Apple’s keeping the best parts of the API hidden. Apple can design something that will multitask but others can’t. The developers want in too.

Apple’s constant refrain is that it’s all about making sure the phone isn’t going to be destroyed by applications doing what they shouldn’t. It’s starting to wear thin, though. Palm opened its platform to outside developers, which helped it kill Psion. Apple’s disdain for badly designed outside software is hurting it more than it knows. The developers who were ready to be its friends are turning into its enemies.