Developing Perspective

#185: Pick up your Kite.


00:00:00   Hello, and welcome to Developing Perspective.

00:00:02   Developing Perspective is a podcast discussing news of note

00:00:04   in iOS development, Apple, and the like.

00:00:07   I'm your host, David Smith.

00:00:08   I'm an independent iOS developer based in Virginia.

00:00:10   This is show number 185.

00:00:13   And today is Thursday, May 29.

00:00:15   Developing Perspective is never longer than 15 minutes,

00:00:18   so let's get started.

00:00:19   All right, so around this time of year,

00:00:21   I typically-- and I guess by typically,

00:00:23   I mean something I've done twice--

00:00:25   I have a post where I talk about kind of my WWDC tips

00:00:29   and some etiquette things, how not to be a bit of a jerk

00:00:32   at WWDC, these types of things, respecting presenters, et

00:00:35   cetera.

00:00:36   Given the way the tickets played out,

00:00:37   I'm not really going to go through the whole spiel

00:00:40   on this.

00:00:40   That seems a bit counterproductive and kind

00:00:42   of unkind, because most people didn't get tickets.

00:00:44   But I will commend, if you are going to be at WWDC,

00:00:47   two past episodes, number 128 and number 53.

00:00:51   The links are both in the show notes for this episode.

00:00:54   If you are going and want to be a nice person,

00:00:57   that's a good place to start.

00:00:58   and just have some recommendations I have on how to behave in a way that you would hope

00:01:03   everyone would just naturally behave, but they don't. So I commend those to you.

00:01:07   All right, so the main topic, obviously, that I'm going to be talking about today, given the timing,

00:01:12   is WWDC and the run up to it, what to expect, etc. That's just what, I guess, pundits like us do

00:01:20   this time of year. I'm not gonna get too into like the various rumors. That's not really my thing.

00:01:25   And honestly, this time of year, I tend to kind of try and start avoiding spoilers and

00:01:32   rumors and things because, you know, if you're like, there's something fun about watching

00:01:38   something and being surprised, you know, that that's kind of cool.

00:01:41   And it's, it's, you know, in the same way that people would enjoy, I don't know, some

00:01:45   people like watching the Oscars, and, you know, see who won, like, I kind of enjoy being

00:01:50   surprised by something that I care a lot about, you know, I'm very heavily invested in Apple

00:01:54   And so it's kind of fun to have an event that I

00:01:56   can be surprised and enjoy.

00:01:57   So this time of year, I tend to kind of back away

00:02:00   a little bit from that, just unsubscribe

00:02:02   from a few feeds, at least temporarily,

00:02:04   just so I can be surprised and enjoy the process.

00:02:08   And obviously, I'll be talking about it with people next week

00:02:10   when I get to San Francisco and so on.

00:02:12   But I try and ease off a bit.

00:02:13   So I'm not going to focus on that so much.

00:02:15   I'm going to talk, hopefully, as what I try and do

00:02:17   a lot of times on the show is take a step back

00:02:19   and have a kind of a broader perspective about it.

00:02:21   And if you would listen to the last episode, number 184,

00:02:26   hopefully I didn't depress you too much.

00:02:29   In listening back to it, it definitely has kind of--

00:02:32   I realized that it had a lot of kind of negative emotion

00:02:35   attached to it about how I was feeling at that time.

00:02:38   And some of that, I think, was sort

00:02:40   of reasonable and appropriate and just part

00:02:44   of how I feel generally about our community.

00:02:47   But also some of it, I think, was just how I felt that day.

00:02:49   And that's just part of having an honest, open show,

00:02:52   is that sometimes that's going to happen.

00:02:54   But really what I try and do, whenever

00:02:55   I have a situation like that, what I really want to do

00:02:57   is I want to take a step back and say,

00:03:00   why did I feel that way?

00:03:01   Why do I feel like there is a more pessimistic cloud

00:03:04   around this W2C, at least around the people

00:03:07   that I interact with a lot, than perhaps

00:03:10   in some of the other years?

00:03:11   It seems a little less excited, a little bit less

00:03:15   jazzed up about it.

00:03:16   And the farther I step back, the more I start to be like,

00:03:20   that doesn't really make sense.

00:03:23   Or it's not that it doesn't make sense,

00:03:25   but that seems a bit odd.

00:03:26   Maybe it seems a bit out of place.

00:03:28   Because there are certainly things

00:03:30   about how the community is developing,

00:03:33   how the ecosystems around software development on iOS

00:03:35   are playing out that aren't so great.

00:03:38   But by and large, that's not really productive to think about

00:03:45   talk about too much. What's really going on, I think, is that there is a more a broader

00:03:51   cultural shift that's happening. And this is a kind of early days for a theory that

00:03:57   I'm working on. But I'm kind of getting the feeling that culturally, the Apple developer

00:04:02   community is finally kind of becoming its own thing. And by that I mean, in contrast

00:04:10   to the Mac developer community, from which it was sort of born.

00:04:18   The platform is fairly old at this point,

00:04:20   I mean, in terms of five or six years old,

00:04:22   depending on when you count the birth of the app store.

00:04:25   And in that time, initially, the people

00:04:29   who were best able to make iOS apps

00:04:32   were people who had made Mac apps, people

00:04:35   who were able to actually use things like Objective

00:04:37   C and Xcode and Interface Builder

00:04:39   back when it was a separate thing. You know, these tools and this experience that people

00:04:44   were bringing with it had a, you know, were coming from a particular background. And I

00:04:50   was not a part of that Mac community, but I know a lot of people who were. And I know

00:04:54   that if, you know, it had a very strong influence on the, the approach that people took and

00:05:01   the things that people valued. And a lot of it's the things that the old older Mac community

00:05:07   kind of had as its core values and principles brought through into iOS.

00:05:12   There are these things that are, you could say, I mean, a lot of these are just kind

00:05:15   of Apple principles too, but I think there's a lot of community things about this.

00:05:18   You know, the people that we would look up to are companies like Panic and the Omni Group,

00:05:24   people like this who have, you know, they're the kind of the canonical example of like,

00:05:27   oh, I want to be like them.

00:05:29   I want to do what they do.

00:05:30   I want to value the things that they value.

00:05:34   And I think I'm starting to feel like I think we're pulling away from quite that experience.

00:05:40   And I think it's coming from iOS being a very different platform than the Mac was and is

00:05:46   to this day.

00:05:47   iOS is something that is deployed onto hundreds of millions of devices.

00:05:53   It is widely used.

00:05:54   It has a tremendously broad and diverse ecosystem.

00:05:57   I mean, for a lot of people, it is their primary computer, and it is appealing into demographics

00:06:05   that are different than the demographics that you would have applied a Mac to.

00:06:10   It is a very broad, wide, general purpose device in a way that a Mac wasn't necessarily,

00:06:16   you know, maybe the PC was at that point, but there was always, you know, a somewhat

00:06:20   self selecting nature of Mac users.

00:06:24   And I feel like that engenders and that in some ways necessitates a different type of

00:06:29   environment for software developers.

00:06:32   Because the things that you might value, things like the emphasis on pixel perfect, super

00:06:39   fanatical design, and those types of concerns, things that are kind of taken for granted

00:06:46   in some ways that the ultimate goal of building an app is to win an Apple design award, maybe.

00:06:52   the thing that you want. I'm not sure if that's quite the case these days. I get more of a

00:06:57   sense that rather than people looking up to Panic and the Omni group, you know, people

00:07:03   are like, and this is something that I see in my own experience, I look up to companies

00:07:07   like Real Mac Software or Readdle or these iOS developers, you know, or principally iOS

00:07:14   developers who are taking a very different approach. They are focused, I think much less

00:07:18   on some of the core values, some of the design-oriented things,

00:07:23   and kind of the-- I'm not going to call it snobbish,

00:07:26   but there was a little bit of that in the older macro

00:07:29   community.

00:07:30   There was a bit of a worthy underdog.

00:07:31   And we can say that part of what makes us us

00:07:34   is these differences.

00:07:36   And I think there are people who kind of get

00:07:38   that it's a different marketplace now, that in order

00:07:41   to be successful, it isn't just about nailing your design.

00:07:45   That's one part, and certainly still an important part,

00:07:48   but it's one part of a much bigger picture

00:07:51   of understanding the App Store, of understanding App Store

00:07:54   optimization, of understanding how customers find your apps,

00:07:58   how social interactions work, and all

00:08:00   of these other components that being a successful app

00:08:02   developer requires now.

00:08:05   And that's different.

00:08:06   And I think some of the pessimism

00:08:08   that I was seeing in myself is when I joined this community,

00:08:12   When I became a part of it, the people, sort of like the thought leaders, whatever that

00:08:18   term means, of the community and the people that I was kind of getting my cues from were

00:08:23   these old, you know, these people who had been doing this Mac development.

00:08:26   And I'd started indoctrinating myself in that same way that like, this is what building

00:08:29   an app is all about.

00:08:31   And I think it's different.

00:08:34   And that anytime there's change like that, anytime there's a difference, and I think

00:08:39   this is that we're very close, if not that point.

00:08:41   I mean, you never really know.

00:08:42   It's like sitting on a beach and trying to determine

00:08:45   exactly when high tide was.

00:08:47   It's very hard because the waves come and go,

00:08:49   and things are always moving.

00:08:50   But I think we're around there.

00:08:53   The iOS is now its own culture.

00:08:56   And so as it lets go of its past in some ways,

00:09:01   I think that feels a bit uncomfortable.

00:09:03   And like I said, it's a bit of a half-formed idea,

00:09:06   but I think that's where we are.

00:09:08   And I'm trying to take from that.

00:09:10   And this is hopefully the more optimistic part rather than

00:09:12   the pessimistic part of the last episode,

00:09:14   is that I just need to understand

00:09:18   that I need to value and put importance

00:09:20   on different things now.

00:09:22   That the important things for me to understand

00:09:26   are different, not necessarily better or worse,

00:09:28   but they're just different than they may have been years ago.

00:09:30   And some of that's about the size of the store,

00:09:32   some of them about the problems in the store,

00:09:34   some of it is about whatever.

00:09:35   But that's the thing that I need to be focused on.

00:09:38   It's not so much about-- and I keep coming back

00:09:42   to design as this thing.

00:09:43   And it's not just design, but I think

00:09:45   that's the easiest example to draw out.

00:09:48   I sometimes spend too much time thinking

00:09:50   about things that ultimately aren't going to matter

00:09:53   in the modern app ecosystem.

00:09:55   The things that matter in terms of being successful

00:09:57   and making a living from this are much more,

00:10:00   I think, things about business questions.

00:10:02   It's more about technology and stability

00:10:07   and these types of things.

00:10:09   And that's different.

00:10:10   And I need to wrap my head around that.

00:10:12   And I'm starting to think about that.

00:10:13   As I think about my roadmap for-- I hate that word,

00:10:18   but my roadmap going forward, right?

00:10:19   I should be putting my time, energy, and effort

00:10:22   into those things and those areas and those activities

00:10:25   that I think will have impacts in the store as it is.

00:10:30   That doesn't make sense for me to bemoan

00:10:32   that it isn't what I wish it were.

00:10:34   A store that is rewarding tremendously, high quality,

00:10:37   well-designed, thoughtful apps. If that isn't what the store is, well, I can talk about

00:10:42   that and it's still productive. And I'll do long series about how I think the App Store

00:10:45   could be better and reward those things that I personally enjoy more. But if I'm going

00:10:50   to make my living in this place, at some point, I just need to understand that me wanting

00:10:56   the store to be something that it isn't, isn't going to change anything. I need to adapt

00:11:02   and understand and make sure that I don't kind of become, you know, it's like become

00:11:06   an old dinosaur. Like, I don't want to ultimately become overcome by my affinity to the way

00:11:15   things were done in the past. Software sells sales models and business models and the way

00:11:19   people approach software that may have worked at a different time but don't necessarily

00:11:24   work now. I want to look up to people who are doing the things in the way that I can

00:11:28   really, you know, try and emulate who I think are doing it really well and are, you know,

00:11:34   approaches are being borne out by their success in the store.

00:11:38   And that's a different culture, and that's a different approach, and it's focusing on

00:11:41   different things.

00:11:42   It's talking about things that aren't necessarily things that the classic Apple Mac community

00:11:48   would talk about a lot.

00:11:51   This is my impression.

00:11:53   So where does that put us going into WWDC?

00:11:56   I think rather than having a pessimistic attitude, what I'm looking at now is I'm trying to

00:12:02   to understand that, OK, there are certainly some challenges

00:12:05   that Apple will have.

00:12:06   There are problems and things they're facing about,

00:12:09   in terms of being stretched too thin, perhaps,

00:12:12   in certain areas, in terms of their ability

00:12:14   to deliver really high quality software in all areas

00:12:18   or whatever.

00:12:18   There are some challenges there, and we can talk about them,

00:12:20   and that's cool.

00:12:21   But what we're really going to be doing going into W3DC

00:12:23   is I'm going to be looking at it from a perspective of what

00:12:26   are my opportunities.

00:12:27   What is Apple doing that I can jump onto and get behind

00:12:31   and hopefully ride a wave.

00:12:33   You know, it's like rather than trying

00:12:35   to be doing this one thing over on the side,

00:12:38   I'm going to try and really get into whatever it is.

00:12:41   If Apple seems to be into something,

00:12:43   and they'll tell you often pretty much,

00:12:45   this is what we care about, well, I need to be there.

00:12:47   I need to be focused.

00:12:48   Rather than being pessimistic about what

00:12:50   things have happened in the past or wishing things

00:12:53   were another way, I just need to be a realist

00:12:55   and understand how are they right now

00:12:58   and where are they going.

00:13:00   Because at the end of the day, I'm

00:13:01   a very small developer in a very big world.

00:13:05   And trying to sort of blaze my own trail for whatever

00:13:09   that would mean is unlikely to be successful.

00:13:11   And it happens sometimes.

00:13:13   And there's these wonderful examples

00:13:14   that we'd love to champion of, oh, here's a company.

00:13:16   Here's an app.

00:13:17   Here's a product that went in a different direction, that

00:13:19   really focused on these core principles

00:13:21   and look at their success.

00:13:23   And that's great.

00:13:24   And I love it when people do that.

00:13:25   But that's tremendously risky, because we

00:13:27   tend to-- has a very strong selection bias, where we see those examples and we think they're

00:13:33   representative, whereas they're probably not.

00:13:35   So coming into W3C, that's what I'm going to be looking for.

00:13:37   I'm going to be looking for all the places that Apple seems excited, all the places that

00:13:42   Apple seems to be poking at, and I'm going to try and run at them.

00:13:45   I mean, I love this time of year because I think everybody clears their decks.

00:13:48   Like I did this myself.

00:13:49   I released, I think, three or four different app updates this week because I'm trying to

00:13:52   get all everything as stable and as bulletproof as I can, so that starting next Monday, I

00:13:58   can sit down, I can watch a keynote, I can listen to where the winds are going, and then

00:14:05   I can pick up my kite and go with them.

00:14:08   And that's, I think, the right approach.

00:14:12   Rather than being that pessimist of kind of like, "Oh, I wish they were a different

00:14:15   way," or "Why are they changed?" or "Why doesn't the things that I used to value seem

00:14:19   as important now?"

00:14:21   a fair way to feel, but it's not really productive. And so that's what I'm going to be trying to do.

00:14:25   And I hope maybe you will too. So next week, I will be in San Francisco. If you are there,

00:14:31   seek me out, try and find me. I'd love to say hi. It's always fun to talk to people who are

00:14:35   members of the show and I'm giving you permission to come up and say hi. I can't promise that every

00:14:39   conversation will go perfectly, but at least I'm giving you an in because I know for myself,

00:14:44   it's a little intimidating sometimes to walk up to somebody you don't know. So just come in,

00:14:47   say hi, say you like the show, and I'm sure we'll have it. It'll work out all right. All right,

00:14:50   All right, thanks.

00:14:51   I'll hopefully see you next week.

00:14:52   Otherwise, happy coding.

00:14:53   Have a great week, and I will talk to you soon.

00:14:55   Bye.