This week I published to GitHub the source code and assets of my iPad adaptation of Sixis, a clever little dice game designed by my friend Chris Cieslik and published by Asmadi Games. I made this edition available in the iOS App Store between 2012 and 2016, but with digital sales falling below the break-even point, Asmadi and I agreed to wrap it up this year and share the source with the world. (The physical game remains available directly from the publisher, and I might suggest that it makes a nice stocking-stuffer for seven bucks.)
In truth, I allowed my $100-per-year subscription to the Apple development club to lapse this past summer, meaning that neither iPad-Sixis nor any of my other apps have appeared in the App Store for months. I have no plans to bring any of them back. I made passing mention of my turning away from iOS development in this blog before, and that position holds true today.
In the early years of this decade I felt very interested in iOS development. My iPhone plays as large a role in my life as any other body part, then as now, and my head swam with possibilities. I would end up making a handful of apps, and I used to have a website that boasted about them. I don’t any longer, since not only have I moved on from these projects for the usual reasons, but the platform itself has moved on from them too. I would have to put significant, regular attention into making sure those apps continue to work every time iOS changed, a cost at least as high as the $100 annual fee. This year I concluded it no longer worth it to me, and as such the apps — in compiled, ready-to-use form, at least — have vanished forever, their App Store entries pruned away the moment I declined to re-up my dues.
Beyond regularly updating iOS itself in unforeseeable ways, Apple’s control over every element of iOS development soured me after my first year within the program. It’s much less the narrowness involved — I actually quite enjoyed using XCode, for all its being the only IDE option available — than the company’s tendency to dictate sweeping, capricious changes with each annual update. I learned the ropes of iOS app-building (and initially published Sixis) in 2012, but by 2013 I already felt frustrated at changes I had to make to all my published work so that it would continue to function in the radically changed visual environment of that year’s iOS version 7. In the three years since then, Apple has gone so far as to completely change the programming language it primarily supports, from Objective-C to Swift.
I do hear nice things about Swift, but I had already moved on by then, and I have no plans to return. I will never develop natively for iOS again, unless I have an immediate and inarguable financial reason for it. Maybe BumpySkies will start begging for a native app, but until then, I will keep that project — like everything else I work on — web-only. I will continue to take my programming tools old, boring, and stable as hell. New frameworks and techniques built upon ancient, open, standard technology might appear, and I shall feel free to adopt them from time to time, but only after they’ve proven themselves by building wide, self-sustaining user communities through merit. Not through corporate fiat.