Monday 22 November 2010

Apple device fragmentation

Apple's Steve Jobs went on an anti-Android rant earlier this year, focussing in particular on market fragmentation. Apparently, there are so many configurations of Android device that it's writing software for the platform is next to impossible. This came as a surprise to people who actually develop for it.

Apple, on the other hand, dodge the issue of fragmentation completely. iOS is a completely unified platform, with only one catch: you must be up-to-date with the latest shiny toys. The new iOS 4.2 is now available, with the following small caveat:


The iOS 4.2 update is available today to download to iPad, iPhone and iPod touch by syncing the device with iTunes 10.1. iOS 4.2 is compatible with iPad, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, second and third generation iPod touch (late 2009 models with 32GB or 64GB) and new iPod touch. Some features may not be available on all products. For example, Multitasking requires iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, third generation iPod touch (late 2009 models with 32GB or 64GB) or later.

So, as with recent OS updates, it won't work with my first generation iPod Touch (or second gens, for that matter). Owners of those devices are left with older versions of iOS, with no upgrade path that doesn't require a hardware purchase.

Meaning that, if you're an application developer looking to target the broadest user base, you're hit with platform fragmentation...

Sunday 21 November 2010

Apple's 'Restart your computer' U-Turn

Once upon a time, Mac users could chuckle heartily at Windows users. After every Windows Update, you'd get that prompt to restart your computer, and it was annoying. If you're the kind of person who thinks that computers should serve rather than be served, you've probably got about a half dozen or more applications open, each containing reference material or partially completed work.

Damn, those restarts were annoying.

However, it's almost every other week that there's some update to Quicktime, Safari or iTunes, each adding more features that I don't care about (Ping? Yet another social network, but one that's only accessible via the locked-down iTunes ecosystem? Seriously..?) I don't need my iTunes to support the latest devices from Apple: I haven't bought anything from them since my first-generation iPod touch (which still works superbly, by the way: I have no intentions of replacing it).

Going back to that 'once upon a time', apps used to run on top of Mac OS. Now, Apple does what got Microsoft into so much hot water at the turn of the millennium: integrating home-grown apps into the operating system (otherwise known as 'gaining unfair advantage over competitors'). So, after updating to Mac OS 10.6.5 and restarting (ok, operating system updates require restarts), I find that iTunes and Safari are both needing updated, also nagging for a restart.

Well done, Apple. You are the new Microsoft. Enjoy the bubble.