iOS 7 Beta Frustrates Mobile App Developers

'Oh Apple, why hast thou forsaken me?' Such is the lament you might hear among iOS developers angry over Apple handcuffing their efforts to create compelling mobile apps -- particularly where it concerns iCloud.

Wed, July 24, 2013

CIO — It's been only a few weeks since Apple released iOS 7 beta to the developer community, and the early reports aren't what the iPhone and iPad maker had in mind.

Already Hassan Bawab, founder and CEO of Magic Logix, a digital marketing agency and app developer, has seen one of his top developers quit after six years and switch to Android.

"They feel like they're coding in outdated technology," Bawab says.

Magic Logix's Apple-turned-Android developer is just one of some 275,000 iOS developers in the United States, but he isn't alone in his frustration. Talk to iOS developers, and they'll tell you the same thing: Apple is dragging its feet when it comes to helping developers create state-of-the-art mobile apps.

It can't be much fun to be an iOS developer these days (and we're not even talking about Apple's developer center getting hacked last week). For some developers, iOS 7 is a tipping point. With its elegant makeover and cool Apple features such as iTunes Radio, iOS 7 is designed to delight consumers—not developers.

"Apple is focusing more on the user interface," Bawab says. "Good developers want to see more creative stuff happening on the functionality or features piece rather than how it will look."

iCloud Closed to Developers

Much of the criticism is aimed at Apple's iCloud storage service, a critical piece of mobility. As mobile users become more dependent on their cloud-storage accounts on a daily basis, iOS developers need the capability to access and integrate with iCloud.

But iCloud, at least for now, is used only for backup and restore. It's not open to developers; they can't tap into iCloud with their third-party apps. Apple has remained inflexible, even adding security procedures in iOS 7 that make it much more complicated, says Bawab.

"iCloud is a disaster," says Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit and an iOS developer.

However, there are signs that Apple is recognizing developer frustration, and it even hinted that it might loosen its grip down the road.

"I think you will see us open up more in the future," Apple CEO Tim Cook said at this year's AllThingsD Conference. "But not to the degree that we put the customer at risk of having a bad experience."

The longer Apple waits, the more developer frustration will grow. Great app developers build the consumer and enterprise apps needed for a mobile OS to flourish. A dearth of new, quality mobile apps, on the other hand, is the reason people jump to another mobile device.

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