Thanks to Lambda the Ultimate, which pointed to this blog entry, pointing out that Scratch has been removed from the Apple App Store. Scratch, for those who haven't come across it before, is an educational tool for rather painlessly teaching programming the right way: instead of focusing on syntax and compilers and crap like that, it's instead an interactive tool for creating fun little apps, aimed at teaching kids. It's become quite popular, and the iPad is obviously a great platform for it.
But of course, it's a programming environment -- and Apple has just outlawed all programming environments except for the four officially-approved ones. You are now absolutely forbidden to program for the iPhone, iPad, or what-have-you in any other way or manner than that in which Apple wants you to. And since Scratch is, god forbid, a nice platform for creating little open-source apps, it is *totally* against both the letter and spirit of the new rules, so I'm not surprised that it had to be pulled down.
So yay for the Law of Unintended Consequences: the iPad is now *officially* a crappy tool for creative kids. Apple took a hard line, effectively declaring that their platform is for consuming rather than creating. (Since when you get right down to it, creating is the heart and soul of programming, and it's hard to build truly sophisticated creative tools these days without giving them some programming flexibility somewhere in there.) This is the result.
Seriously: if Google isn't already planning their ad campaign, they're missing a bet. And I do hope somebody is porting Scratch to Android, because I suspect that the new Android-based pads will be rather good platforms for it.
And I continue to suspect that Apple is going to have to climb down from the recent change: this is the best illustration yet of how idiotic a decision it was. It's one thing to piss off developers, but convincing kids that your tool doesn't let them do fun stuff -- well, that's not exactly smart long-term planning. Frankly, Apple is butting heads against a historical trend here, and they're going to lose: this nicely underscores that enabling creativity is one of the major points of computing nowadays, and the line between "creativity" and "programming" is often blurry almost to the point of meaningless...