Having never met the man, it does feel strange that I am so deeply sadden by Steve Jobs passing, and I suppose that is because what I do today is really down to him. Not only did Steve Jobs have the vision to create the Mac, iPhone and iPad that are in front of me on my desk, he also had the passion to make me want them too.
Looked up to by millions, Steve Jobs was a charismatic visionary, who will go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest CEO of all time. Not only did he start the computing revolution when he founded Apple in 70s, in his second stint as Apple CEO he brought a company on the brink of bankruptcy to be the most valuable company in the world in just under 15 years. Time and time again he ripped up the rule book and released product after product that change the world for good.
I could go on about how he changed the world but you already know that, and there are plenty of other articles that put it better than me. What I would like to say is that Steve Jobs’ passing has reiterated 3 things to me:
1) Find what you love
You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.
Steve Jobs, Standford Speech (2005)
Don’t settle for second best, this is as true as it is for work as it is for love. You need to find what you love doing, and do that. If it makes you millions then thats great, but if it makes you happy then thats what counts.
2) Work hard to make it simple
That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
Steve Jobs, Interview with Business Week, 1998
If you design an make stuff like me, your appreciate that one of the things that Steve Jobs has proven, is that users are willing to pay more for simplicity.
My favourite Steve Jobs Quote is:
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
This goes hand in hand with simplify, it has to appear simple to use and be simple to use. Attention to detail in every aspect of design is key to a successful product. Make this your Mantra.
3) All good thing must come to an end
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.
Steve Jobs, Standford Speech (2005)
No matter how visionary you are, no matter how much money you have in the bank, one day you will be gone. Not everyone like Steve Jobs has the chance to become a legend, but you do have the chance to leave a legacy.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
The Mac AppStore (MAS) is coming to a Mac near you on the 6th January 2011, but is it going to change the software landscape on the Mac forever ?
Number of applications:
If there is one thing that we can be sure of, it is that the number of applications available for Mac OS will increase due to the introduction of the MAS. There will be iOS developers jumping on board (who are in for a shock when they see NSTableView), and also developers coming “Back to the Mac” after spending some time doing iOS development.
Quality of applications:
Quality and Quantity are two very different things. Just because the quantity of applications increases, that doesn’t mean that the number of high quality applications (that we have come to expect on the Mac) will increase accordingly. I (unfortunately) think that there will be a lot of substandard applications released for the Mac, simply because of the MAS making distribution easier. I do however think that there will be a few gems uncovered because of it.
Price of applications:
When the Mac AppStore was first announced, developers contemplated raising their prices to compensate for Apple taking a 30% cut of the revenue (compared to <10% for most other providers), now developers are thinking the opposite … lets lower prices. I don’t think that this will be as extreme as the “race to the bottom” on the iOS AppStore, as Mac applications usually take longer to build than there iOS equivalents. This is mainly because iOS has a more modern set of APIs, and on the Mac you have to support extras like Drag and Drop, Keyboard Shortcuts etc.
I think that Mac AppStore application pricing will fall into 4 main categories:
- < $5 – Simple single purpose applications
- $10 – Simple applications with an iOS sized feature set
- $20 – $40 Fully featured applications
- $40+ Professional applications like Microsoft Office, Adobe creative suite etc
The simple fact is that people are more willing to give their payment details to Apple, rather than entering them on an indie developer’s website. If, and it is a big if, you get a prime place on the Mac AppStore (featured,top 25s etc) your sales are likely to be huge. For all the other applications on AppStore, time will only tell if it dramatically increases sales beyond the number of sales gained from the security of purchasing through Apple. I do believe however that non MAS sales will suffer a lot. The people that currently purchase applications online are likely to be “tech savy”, and therefore they will know about the MAS. Why would these users not switch to purchasing all of their applications through Apple ? the fact is they will.
Hello AppStore bye bye Serial codes:
There are a few benefits of distributing applications through the AppStore rather than handling distribution yourself. One of the major pains is payments and serials, which can take up a considerable amount of an application’s development time. This along with handling updates, is now removed from a developers workload with the introduction of the MAS, saving developers time and a lot of headaches.
On the whole I can only see the Mac AppStore being a positive thing for Mac users and developers alike. Developers have a central place to sell their products from, and they don’t have to worry about getting it listed on numerous application sites. Users will have a an application (pre installed on their Mac !!!) which will allow them to search, view and securely purchase thousands of applications using just their Apple ID.
This could be a very big year for the Mac…
Apple are looking to close off the year (in terms of keynotes anyway), with Steve Jobs talking about the Mac. The 4 keynotes previously in the year, focused on the iPad, iPhone and more recently the iPod line up.
If pictures paint a thousand words, the invitation clearly shows a lion, so one would assume that this event will be the unvaling of Mac OS 10.7 Lion.
As I like guessing a bit too much, here are my predictions for what we will see in Mac OS 10.7.
What I think will be in it:
- A replacement for Finder
What might be in it:
- UIKit (or some additions to AppKit to make it a UIView based system like the iPhone i.e. NSCell is a subclass of NSView !!!
- A Mac AppStore (hopefully it won’t be the only way to get software on there)
- Support for 64 Bit, Multicore systems only.
What needs to happen but won’t:
- Decoupling of iTunes into separate applications (Store, Library, Device Manager etc)
Other than Mac OS X, there is more than likely going to be a Mac hardware announcement along side iLife/iWork 2011. The MacBook Air seems to be the safe bet, but I also expect the entire MBP line to get a speed bump … Can I wish for USB 3.0 ?
One more thing … Maybe we get to find out what the “revolutionary feature” is.
There is a theme coming from Cupertino, which was made slightly more apparent yesterday when they removed storage from the Apple TV … the master plan.
Apple are clearly going for the “your family has one master computer, and you sync lots of (smaller/lower cost) devices with it” distribution model … all of these devices are available from Apple. iPads are replacing laptops (for some), and people have long bought into the iPod revolution to play there digital media on the move. The AppleTV is a bit different as you can stream rented content from Apple to it, but the only way to get your own content on it, is to stream it from another device. This would ether be from your computer, or an iOS device which you have already synced with your computer.
Although “the cloud” is clearly the future, it isn’t yet ready for prime time. Until everyone in their normal every day lives has access to a (constant) high speed internet connection, the cloud is merely a pipe dream in terms of using it for all of your data driven tasks.
Don’t get me wrong, the clouds time will come, but in the next 5 years ? … I’m not so sure.
At the moment client applications (native applications that sync with a server and then cache the data for offline use), are the correct implementation for the the moment. As far as streaming movies go, Apple knows that all AppleTVs will live in a home, and therefore (hopefully) have the bandwidth required to play HD footage.
Although people will disagree, the master plan is probably the right choice for the start of this decade, but the cloud’s time will come.
I thought this year I would put them down in writing, so here is my list:
- New iPhone (surely ?), front facing camera, 5mp camera on the back and will NOT be called the iPhone 4G. Avaliablity at the end of next week alongside OS 4.0
- Facebook integration in iPhone OS 4.0, pulling down your calendar and contact information
- Aggregated contacts, like how WebOS does
- iPhone OS powered Apple TV, allowing you to run apps on your TV
- New version of Safari, faster rendering and the ability for Plugins
What I want to see, but I don’t think we will … a preview of Mac OS 10.7. My dream is for Steve to say that 10.7 will have UIKit available to it, and I can stop using NSOutlineView, NSCell to name but a few.
Now that the iPad (iPhone OS 3.2) SDK is no longer under NDA (I think anyway), I thought I would post my opinion on developing for it.
I was programming in Objective-C before the iPhone was even announced (only for a around a year and a half, but I shall still claim it), and switching to the iPhone OS was somewhat strange. At first all I could see is what was missing, all those APIs I took for granted, and things like bindings that I had come to love and (overly) rely on.
In retrospect these limitations where a good thing. Learning how to do things the long way round (such as UIs in code) meant you actually got to know how they worked, and it wasn’t just because interface builder was magic. I still to this day write a lot of my iPhone UIs purely in code. Why you ask ? If your UI is complex then sometimes interface builder just doesn’t do what you need. This is especially the case on the iPhone, as you are often animating views on and off the screen, making them bigger and smaller etc etc. Also having half of your logic in a xib, and half of it in source code can lead to its own problems. I hope that I am not the only one who has wasted significant amount of time after forgetting to hook up an IBOutlet or IBAction (the one time you don’t want messages that are sent to nil, to be ignored !!!).
After spending about a year exclusively programming for the iPhone OS in my day job, I got an urge to write a little application for Mac OS X. And in a strange turn of events I had the same feelings when I moved back to the mac, as when I moved to the iPhone OS. You can’t animate an NSView with the same level of ease as you can a UIView, and some of the Mac OSX APIs are not very clean at all (try playing with NSOutlineView to name one class). This is probably expected as some of these APIs have been around for over a decade, but the biggest surprise is what you forgot you had to do when creating Mac applications. Keyboard shortcuts, window resizing and providing automatic updates of your applications to name but a few. Apple ether take care of this for you on the iPhone, or they are just not a feature of the OS. Having the limitations of a fixed size screen, and only being able to get applications from the AppStore doesn’t seem such a bad deal after all.
Then came the iPad, its like a Big iPhone from a programmers point view. Its the iPhone OS with a couple of extras, but with a really big display. The jewel in the iPhone OS’s crown is its UI Libraries. It is so simple (compared to any other platform, mobile or otherwise), to build really slick animated interfaces that your users will love to use. Now that you have all this screen to play with, you can start building “Desktop Class” applications but with the iPhones APIs. The thing that has shocked me the most, is the quality of all of the iPad applications that have been released. The vast majority of developers have all gone the extra mile to make their UIs, and therefore their applications look extremely polished. This brings around the great debate of application pricing. Everyone with any business acumen would have long worked out that £0.59/$0.99 is not a sustainable business model for 99% of developers, and the iPad has seemed to have broken this trend from day one. Applications seem to be in the range of £3/$5 – £10/$20, which will probably lead to less applications being sold, but in the long term will lead to a higher quality applications that can be supported by their respective developers.
The one thing I am hoping for is that the iPhone APIs get ported back to Mac OS X, or maybe that iPhone OS becomes the Mac OS. Saying that, no multitasking and the AppStore being the sole way of getting apps onto my mac is a scary thought…