The End of the End of General Purpose Computing

One of the memes that got slung around a log during the launch of the iPad and associated apologetics for the closed nature of iPad (and iPhone) software development was that we were at the “end of general purpose computing”, that the closed and controlled environment was a good thing, and in fact required in order to provide the seamless, user friendly experience necessary to bring computing, finally, to the unwashed masses.

In this meme, the limitations of the new platform—no multi-tasking, applications as unitary bundles that don’t share files, the lack of a (user visible) hierarchical file system—were all features, not drawbacks, they were in fact the core benefits that make computing understandable for grandma.

How quickly the worm turns. iPhone OS 4 now introduces multi-tasking, file sharing between applications, and all the associated user interface scruft that goes along with managing those concepts. Also, folders for holding the many application icons in your now-totally-crowded phone screens. And on and on.

So, now that bath water (the blessed “simple enough for grandma” experience) is heading over the balcony edge, can we have our baby back (open application development)?