While I was too young to experience its heyday, I have heard a lot of people wax lyrically about Apple’s HyperCard. Even Steve Jobs himself said, earlier this year, that he’d love for a HyperCard-like environment to come to the iPhone, but that someone would have to build it. Well, someone did indeed build it, called it revMobile, but Apple has rejected ‘it’ from the App Store (i.e., applications developed using revMobile) because it violates section 3.3.1 of the iPhone SDK agreement. The team behind Unity, however, are luckier: Unity games are still being accepted into the App Store, and as such, they’re not worried.
In an open letter on RunRev’s website, CEO Kevin Miller has detailed why Apple has rejected revMobile, and also to what lengths the developers went to try and adhere to Apple’s demands. “We submitted an in-depth proposal to Apple that we create an iPhone-only product that uses native Cocoa objects, supports 100% of their API, works perfectly with multitasking and battery life, but uses a variant of the revTalk language to use these objects and APIs, and then translates those into native code,” Miller explains, “While a significant engineering departure for us from the current revMobile path, this solution would have resulted in perfect-quality iPhone-only applications impossible to distinguish from native applications.”
“It would have been impossible to tell these applications apart from native iPhone applications because they would be native applications,” he continues, “In other words, we set out to offer Apple what they wanted by raising our game in response to their stricter requirements, while dropping the other mobile platforms we originally intended to support.”
Miller believes that Apple would benefit greatly from an iPhone/iPad only develpment tool that he claims is “10x more productive than Objective-C”, while “[honouring] the HyperCard legacy still present on their Mac platform today”.
Sadly, despite the claim he’d love to see a HyperCard-like environment on the iPhone/iPad, Steve Jobs rejected revMobile. “Steve Jobs has now rejected our proposal and made it clear that he has no interest in having revMobile available on the iPhone or iPad in any form,” Miller writes,” Had they made their decision public earlier in the evolution of the platform, it would have saved us and thousands of other developers what must add up to millions of dollars of wasted engineering budget.”
They will continue to offer revMobile to customers of Apple’s Enterprise developer program, who are allowed to write and then distribute applications to devices in-house, and it will also remain available as a rapid prototyping tool for ordinary customers. For the rest, however, the focus will shift towards Android. “We are turning our mobile sights to the Android platform, and will unveil an aggressive strategy for supporting Android development projects,” Miller writes.
For Unity, the 3D game engine, the situation appears to be different – games made using Unity are still being accepted into and promoted in the App Store. “Awesome Unity games such as Armada: Galactic War, RPG Snake, Roswell Fighter HD, and Zombieville HD are still being accepted into and promoted in the AppStore (even after accepting the new ToS),” explains Unity’s David Helgason, “Therefore we are continuing and renewing our investment into the platform, while also researching contingency plans in case we need to modify Unity to keep it compliant.”
Unity 3 is currently in development, and will deliver many cool new features to the development platform, such as live debugging, deferred rendering, built-in lightmapper, vertex snapping, and a whole lot more. Game Center support will be added as well, obviously.