Thursday, April 15 2010

iPad for Education? Not!

A while back, I sent my mother a link to Scratch, an educational programming environment for children. She’s one of the relatively few PhDs in the education field who really goes out and teaches children, so I knew she’d be interested. So were her kids; they love it, and they’re learning a lot more than just how to write programs.

Naturally, someone released an iPhone/iPad app to allow a user to run their Scratch programs. The response from the MIT folks who run Scratch was “hey, check this out”. That was early March. Yesterday, as part of their new policy outlawing all third-party development tools, Apple removed it from the app store.

Nice work, Steve; way to throw out a dozen babies with the (Adobe CS5-flavored) bath water. If you were trying to improve the quality of apps in the store, oh, who am I kidding, we both know that’s a bullshit rationalization. Gruber bought it, and preened when you made him think he was a penetrating analyst for saying so, but it ain’t so. The app store is flooded with crap, and is such a poor shopping experience that customers are forced to wade neck-deep into the sewers to find the tiny handful of useful apps (this is what Gruber calls “the killer app” for the iPad; no doubt he also thinks dumpster-diving would be a great first date).

It’s about control. About forcing people to do things The Steve Way. With Flash CS5, tens of thousands of Windows-based developers would have been able to write iPhone and iPad apps, and Steve would rather require the price of development to include the price of a Mac. Apple is, as we’re often reminded, first and foremost a hardware company. The change was timed to fuck Adobe’s major release, but that was just a bonus.