Safari Extensions is a Tumblr blog featuring Extensions for the just-released Safari 5 browser.
It seems like the Safari developer community has exploded overnight. Just a few days after Safari 5 has been released and there are already dozens (soon to be hundreds) of useful extensions out there. It’s already changed the way I use Safari, and I can’t wait to see what else is on the way.
As I expected, everyone’s talking about the iPad this week. The part that comes as a surprise is what they’re talking about. The big news isn’t iBooks, or the custom processor, or that it runs iPhone apps. People are talking about the iPad as a revolution in computing; that it’s the first step in what we can expect computers to act like in the future.
In the New World, computers are task-centric. We are reading email, browsing the web, playing a game, but not all at once. Applications are sandboxed, then moats dug around the sandboxes, and then barbed wire placed around the moats. As a direct result, New World computers do not need virus scanners, their batteries last longer, and they rarely crash, but their users have lost a degree of freedom. New World computers have unprecedented ease of use, and benefit from decades of research into human-computer interaction. They are immediately understandable, fast, stable, and laser-focused on the 80% of the famous 80/20 rule.
The tech industry will be in paroxysms of future shock for some time to come. Many will cling to their January-26th notions of what it takes to get “real work” done; cling to the idea that the computer-based part of it is the “real work”.
It’s not. The Real Work is not formatting the margins, installing the printer driver, uploading the document, finishing the PowerPoint slides, running the software update or reinstalling the OS.
The Real Work is teaching the child, healing the patient, selling the house, logging the road defects, fixing the car at the roadside, capturing the table’s order, designing the house and organising the party.
In a world where other companies are focusing on building more netbooks and tablets with Windows that act like a normal PC, if anyone can pull this off I’d put my money on Apple.
The past month or two has seen a lot of controversy over rejections in the Apple’s iPhone App Store. Apple has pulled not just “joke” apps which don’t have any quality or substance behind them, but seemingly legitimate applications like Podcaster and Nullriver’s NetShare.
I haven’t done any iPhone development yet, but I am thinking about porting a version of my OS X application Runner’s Log. By its nature Runner’s Log is a pretty tame application, but this news still concerns me. Is it possible it could fall under the ‘duplicate functionality’ clause the Podcaster was rejected for? The new iPod Touch has Nike+ software (which is definitely a competitor) built in, and it’s certainly possible it might make it into the iPhone eventually. What if my version of Runner’s Log could upload data to a website the same way Nike+ did? What if it could read Nike+ data as well?
Now, this is enough to bother me, but I’m not really concerned about it. I think the chances of Runner’s Log being rejected are honestly pretty low, if at all. But what if instead, you imagine Hulu as an example. Hulu is NBC’s flash based online TV service, and it seems to me there’s no reason they couldn’t create an iPhone app similar to YouTube if they wanted. Except, of course, that it would be a direct competitor to TV show sales in the iTunes Store. It wouldn’t exactly be duplicating iTunes, but how would Apple handle that?
Hulu has NBC behind it, so maybe it’s not fair to compare them to the typical indie developer shop that doesn’t have its own lawyers or high-up connections with Apple. The point I’m trying to make though, is that there are plenty examples of perfectly reasonable applications that could potentially fall victim to Apple. This is an area where Apple needs to be more upfront, either by providing a comprehensive list of what will and won’t be allowed, or through more communication with developers before the development process begins. Software companies big and small can’t afford to spend three, six months (or longer, in many cases) when there’s a possibility the application won’t even have a chance to pay off in the end.
The App Store is new, probably still overwhelmed with requests, and I have no reason to believe the process won’t continue to improve over time. Right now though, this is not a good situation to be in.
From Ars Technica:
Steve Jobs today announced that Apple is working on a software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone and iPod touch so that third-party developers can build native applications for the devices. The SDK is on track for a February 2008 release, after the annual Macworld Apple-fest takes place in January 2008.
As to why Apple is taking so long to release an SDK, Jobs detailed the complicated position the company feels it is in: “We’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc.,” Jobs argued in his announcement.
This is pretty close to what a lot of people suspected back when the iPhone was first announced; it’s going to take a lot of effort to build a stable iPhone development framework, and creating it in time for the launch would have taken a lot of resources away from other things if it would have been at all possible. I wonder if the reason it’s being announced now rather than ini a year or two is in part because of all the news about third party iPhone hacks.
Great addition for anyone who uses Smart Playlists to filter songs by albums, rather than the individual song rating. I used to have an (unreleased) Cocoa application to make playlists using the average album rating (along with play count and other attributes), it looks like I won’t need that anymore.
Once you grab the latest software update, that is. I always thought it was a bad decision to not include fullscreen in the free QuickTime player, especially given the number of hacks, scripts, and terminal commands that anyone could use to get around this restriction (but still weren’t as convenient as cmd+f). I’m glad to see it’s now free.
It’s great timing too, since Perian (an OSX multi-codec collection) just hit 1.0 a few weeks ago. The two make a great alternative to VLC, which simply won’t stop crashing on either my PowerBook or MacBook Pro.
Leopard: I have a feeling this will be a very significant OSX release. I’m looking forward to it in October.
Games: I admin, I’ve secretly been wanting to play C&C 3. Not that it’s much of an issue with Bootcamp and the new 3D acceleration in Parallels and VMware, but it’s still nice to see a native Mac app.
Safari 3 on Windows: I’ve heard a lot of complaints about it so far, mainly due to the non-Windows style UI. I tend to agree, and I can’t see Safari replacing Firefox on my Windows PCs anytime soon. I don’t think it really matters if it gains any marketshare on Windows though; what’s really important is that web developers can finally test sites in Safari, even if they don’t own a Mac.
The Safari 3 OSX beta, on the other hand, is great. Lots of neat new UI features, and the new WebKit is much faster, even on my aging PowerBook.
iPhone Web Apps: A little disappointing to Cocoa developers, but I guess at least it’s something. Web apps will be able to tie into the phone’s dialing and email features, so it should give potential developers basic capabilities.
I’ve heard some speculation that this is really a stopgap measure until Apple has the time to develop a set of stable iPhone APIs, create a working development environment and emulator, and take care of any hardware and software bugs in the rev A model. I tend to agree; you can’t assume anything about Apple’s long term plans for a device that’s not even in stores yet.
From The New York Times:
SAN FRANCISCO, March 8 — Palm Inc., the maker of hand-held computers, has hired a top Silicon Valley software designer as it seeks to respond to the challenge posed by Apple’s new iPhone.
The designer, Paul Mercer, a former Apple computer engineer, began work three weeks ago at Palm on a line of new products, a company spokeswoman said, but she declined to comment further on the project.
I’d love to see Palm make a comeback in the PDA and smartphone industry. I’ve bought mostly Compaq / HP’s Windows Mobile PDAs in the past, but I still can’t help but admire some of Palm’s hardware designs. Hopefully they’ll start showing some innovation in their software as well.
More on third party iPhone development, from The New York Times:
“We define everything that is on the phone,” [Jobs] said. “You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers.”
The iPhone model, he insisted, would not look like the rest of the wireless industry.
“These are devices that need to work, and you can’t do that if you load any software on them,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be software to buy that you can load on them coming from us. It doesn’t mean we have to write it all, but it means it has to be more of a controlled environment.”
Going by the last paragraph, it’s a pretty wide-open answer; you might be able to buy additional applications from Apple, that may or may not have actually been developed by Apple? In any case, it’s not looking good for the “indie” OSX developer. Disappointing; since as I said before, I would really like to try writing handheld software using Cocoa.
A lot of people are talking about MacFUSE, released today for OSX. From Ars Technica:
FUSE was originally developed in the Linux world as a filesystem (like what you browse in the finder, or over the network from your Windows machine) that’s implemented in userspace. This means that you can load and unload new filesystems without having to deal with messy kernelmode stuff. The pluggable nature and its accessible API means that it’s super simple for programmers that aren’t rockstars to write filesystems for, well just about anything. There are even ways to write modules in the best programming language of all time, Python!
MacFUSE supports many filesystems, notably NTSF, remote FTP and remote SSH. For a lot of people this is more than enough to be excited about, but I’ve always been fine with SMB, Transmit and scp; lack of filesystem support has never been on my list of complaints about OSX.
The part that interests me is that a FUSE filesystem doesn’t really need to represent actual files, it can be any sort of data store. I haven’t looked through all the plugins yet, but a few examples are connecting to Flickr or Gmail. Take it a step further, and there’s no reason you couldn’t make a plugin to interface with an SQL database, or Active Directory objects, all directly through Finder. I haven’t decided yet if it would actually be useful, but this type of integration is certainly cool. It’s just up to the plugin developers to find good uses for it.
My understanding right now is that MacFUSE isn’t completely stable yet, and you can expect to beachball finder once or twice if you decide to try it. It’s still not bad at all for a first release, and it will be interesting to see what comes out of this in the future.