You know, the thing that is actually most disheartening, disappointing, frustrating, and plainly sad about Apple’s surprise announcement today is that we will not receive any sort of response to our collective dismay. There will be no public acknowledgment, much less an apology (not that it would help much). Only silence.
Remember — this is the same company that shipped poorly designed, defective keyboards for 5 years and never acknowledged the problem. Instead, Apple consistently and persistently denied that there was a problem by simply ignoring it. Nothing to see here, except for a mention at the Oscars.
That is what’s going to happen now. In fact, that is what has been happening for the past 5 or 6 years — a palatable, gradual decline in software quality from Apple while developer concerns and feedback are mostly disregarded. I’m not just upset about the abrupt release of iOS 14 tomorrow. This is “death by a thousand cuts,” like piles of Jony Ive’s keyboards sitting in landfills.
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Nearly all of my career has been spent enriching Apple platforms by developing apps, filling in gaps in their documentation with blog posts and conference talks, and addressing shortcomings in their SDKs and APIs with open source libraries. In return, Apple is inconsiderate, neglectful, and simply rude. They act as if third-party developers do not bring any value to the platform when the truth is that we bring a majority of the value to the platform. Who gets excited about the default, built-in apps for iOS? Not many. Consumers download their absolute favorite apps from us in the App Store. Even Apple touts the millions of apps available as a primary advantage and appeal of iOS over competitors.
To make matters worse, Apple is the wealthiest company in the history of capitalism. It is not as if they lack the resources to do better. They can literally do anything they want, but prefer inaction when it comes to their eroding relationship with developers. Apple acts in Apple’s interest, not in ours. The power imbalance between developers and Apple has always been present, but it has never been quite so clear. There’s a critique of capitalism in here dying to get out, but I’m too tired right now and you probably already know.
Why do I even bother to keep making apps for Apple platforms?