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Tags: iphone rant
A year ago today I posted The iPhone Development Story, detailing all of the insane and largely pointless steps required to build an iPhone application. The article was incredibly popular, seeing tens of thousands of hits that weekend and still generating fresh comments even to this day. Now, a year later, it's time to look back and see where we stand today.
There are really two parts to this story. One part is Apple's development process, in terms of the tools they provide and the actions they require. The other part is my own personal experience with the whole thing.
Let's take Apple's part first. What has changed over the past year?
The answer is: very little. They didn't sit completely still, of course. The toolchain is somewhat better about providing sensible errors. They now have a special e-mail address you can use to request help if they screw up a review. Apple VP Phil Schiller has been making noises about trying to improve things, but so far this is just talk. Apple's improvements, virtually insignificant already, have mostly gone to improving the store, not the development process.
Ultimately, Apple has made zero substantive improvements in the iPhone development process over the past year.
What about my part? That part is pretty simple: I have abandoned the platform. Apple's nonsense is just too much for me. There's no joy in iPhone development, and an enormous amount of frustration. It's much more fun, not to mention profitable, to take whatever effort I would spend on iPhone development and spend it on Mac development instead. Apple has yet to screw up Mac development in the same way that they have iPhone development, although there are signs that they would like to.
The iPhone is a pretty neat device. I finally got one, a 3GS (previously I was using an iPod Touch for development) and it's a cool phone to have. It's cripped by the small number of quality third-party applications available, and by stupid restrictions on what those third-party applications can do, but even just having a capable mobile web browser is worth the money. As a development platform, though, it completely stinks. The APIs are great, but the completely unnecessary process which Apple has forced on its developers is completely broken, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
My advice? Pick another platform to program for. The Mac is pretty nice. If you absolutely must develop for a mobile platform, try Android. You probably won't make any money at it, but on the other hand, you probably won't make any money at iPhone development either, and at least you won't have to go begging to Apple every time you want to load a new version of your program onto your own phone.
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