Open iOS

Today, my Twitter has been filled with “We want a more open iOS” (in fact a campaign to get the hashtag trending), and “iOS needs to be more open”.

Let me briefly state my thoughts on this.

We don’t need iOS to be more open. It’s an open market. If you want an open OS, get an Android phone. Get something with WebOS — it’s open now. Or Ubuntu. Simple. No one is forcing you to have iOS.

If you’re not happy with it’s closed nature, move on. If enough people do, Apple’ll soon get the message and do something about it.

And to be honest, the few advantages of being ‘open’ would be to the detriment of the overall user experience.

It’s eating your cake, but still wanting it. “We want iOS’s non-laggy UI, but we want all the customisable stuff that lags everything up!”

Things don’t work like that.

“There needs to be some safe way for people to extend the OS to do additional things without jailbreaking.”

That’s an oxymoron. Extending the OS in any way, unless you’re Apple is inherently unsafe. Whether they let you do it or not. I can modify the heck out of Windows, and Microsoft is fine with that. Windows is also horribly bogged down. They purposefully program bugs into the OS in order to support legacy hacks that people have done.

And let’s not forget about the little problem Android’s having. 15,000 new viruses in a three-month period, but at least I can change the default icons!

“Gatekeeper for iOS would solve everything!”

That leads to a whole other set of problems, namely, fragmentation. Multiple versions of apps with different features. Coda 2 on Mac is the perfect example of this.

Two versions of the same app. One has Notification Center and iCloud, but is sandboxed and gets updates slightly later.

The other gets faster updates, but misses out on Notification Center and iCloud.

Both cost the same price. The developer gets paid slightly less — because of Apple’s 30% cut of App Store sales — for the version with more features. Which do you buy?

Making iOS open isn’t going to help anything. It’ll just lead to a subpar user experience, and make it frustrating at best to develop for. And what would you get out of it? “Look, ma’! I’ve made Chrome my default browser, changed the Tweetbot icon, and had all my data stolen by a rogue app!”

Is it worth it?

About Lewis Dorigo

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