Former Facebook for iPhone Developer Joe Hewitt Says iPad "Everything He's Been Wishing For"

Facebook for iPad

Joe Hewitt, who developed the awesome Facebook 3.0, but controversially (and some would say detrimentally) left the iPhone platform before Facebook 3.1 over the App Store review process, has come out extremely positively about the iPad:

iPad is exactly the product I've been wishing for ever since I wrapped my mind around the iPhone and its constraints. While the rumor mill was churning with all kinds of crazy possibilities for the Apple tablet, I mostly rolled my eyes, because I felt strongly that all Apple needed to do to revolutionize computing was simply to make an iPhone with a large screen. Anyone who feels underwhelmed by that doesn't understand how much of the iPhone OS's potential is still untapped.

Hewitt claims the biggest constraint he had in making the ultimate Facebook app was screen size, and the iPad removes that completely. But what about his concerns over Apple's role as iPhone -- and now iPad -- gatekeeper?

The one thing that makes an iPhone/iPad app "closed" is that it lives in a sandbox, which means it can't just read and write willy-nilly to the file system, access hardware, or interfere with other apps. In my mind, this is one of the best features of the OS. It makes native apps more like web apps, which are similarly sandboxed, and therefore much more secure. On Macs and PCs, you have to re-install the OS every couple years or so just to undo the damage done by apps, but iPhone OS is completely immune to this.

Web apps is also how he sees working around Apple. Anyone can make anything they want for the iPad, provided they're willing to run it on their own server and not gunk up the end-users machine. That, Hewitt says, is the key to total client-side freedom.

So here's hoping the platform gets Hewitt back, if not for Facebook 3.2 or 4.0 for the iPad, then for something equally as impressive...

[Thanks to Fassy for the tip!]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Former Facebook for iPhone Developer Joe Hewitt Says iPad "Everything He's Been Wishing For"


I quite agree. I couldn't care less what Hewitt thinks he jumped ship for his own reasons, and now the rest of us suffer with an inferior product in his wake.
I also see the iPad as a huge distraction. I'm glad people are exicted about it. But let's not forget it's not even shipping yet and there are MILLIONS of iPhone and iPod Touch users right now.

I'm not sure why this is news worthy. How long will it be before he's moaning and groaning about the App store's policies? And after the moaning and groaning how long will it be before he abandons his iPad app?
As for icebike's question, since the iPad runs on the iPhoneOS which means it's relevant to TiPb so you might as well get used to all of its coverage. It's not gonna die down.

Well then lets throw in every thing, right? Bean Soup recipes, Kubuntu, and Alaskan Mosquito population studies?
Blogs have to be focused, and every once in a while you have to nudge Rene back on track other wise this would be the twitter blog. As it says on the bottom "Copyright 2008 Smartphone Experts Ltd. All rights reserved."
We've been three weeks on this iPad stuff and nobody has even touched one except those who promised Steve they would say nothing bad.
The iPad runs a version of the iPhone app that we can't even get at yet, so you might as well say iPhone runs the iPad OS.

After reading his post earlier today it did shine a new light on this for me in a way. And I think he is right about where computing could be going and likening it to the real hardcore "car people" preferring manual transmissions is an interesting way to put it. I could see in the future more people doing things this way, Chrome OS, to protect themselves.
However, I am one of those people who prefer a manual transmission on my car and will probably prefer a traditional computer for a long time for major tasks.

Yea let's take the power away from the people who purchase and OWN these products because they will download and install malicious software on it! Good thinking Apple! Yea! Brainwash everyone!! Apple is good, Apple is great, Apple knows best!

It's Apple, the most integrated company on the planet, and they're using the iPhone OS across a range of mobile devices, 2/3 of which have or will have 3G HSPA. They're blurring the lines and it will be impossible to cover the iPhone without covering the iPhone platform. iPhone SDK 3.2 is iPad only now, for example, and we're absolutely going to be covering that.
So I'm sure TiPb will be nudged in every direction and that's fine. That's our job to figure out. The lines are blurry, but we'll walk them as best as we can.
I'm guessing almost all iPhone news will be iPad-related for a while, though. That has nothing to do with TiPb, but you can bet we'll cover it, and we'll always pay special attention to the iPhone actual as much as possible.
I have a feeling March will swing back to more iPhone 4.0 news.

I think Rene may have misinterpreted Joe a bit here -- all Joe is saying is that he finds the technical walls erected by the iPhone OS (e.g. no visible file system) a worthwhile tradeoff for most development he does. He has never stopped bashing the policy walls of the App Store approval process, and even indicates in this very post that he still has a problem with it. I would bet it will keep him and some developers like him from working on the platform again, which would be a shame, but one Apple can (and should) rectify.
Now back to bean soup recipes...

So, I think what Joe is saying is that he is willing to give up some of his freedom in exchange for security?

@Fassy, didn't mean to misinterpret him I'll edit to make it clearer. This was my take-away: he loves the iPad's bigger display, still doesn't like App Store approval, but sees web apps as the way around it.

@Sting7k: You're Back!!!
After expressing your doubt about the existence of the ipad we were taking bets if you would ever show up again. ;-)
@Rene: Don't take it too seriously, I just send barbs your way every once in a while on general principals. :-)

"I felt strongly that all Apple needed to do to revolutionize computing was simply to make an iPhone with a large screen."
Key part being an iPhone, since it lacks the following features of the iPhone
- Camera
- Compass
Will iPhone accessories work with iPad, will we need a different charging cable? Will it also move to microUSB like the iPhone eventually will?
I know that this is first gen hardware, and we still need OS 4.0 to come out, but to simply dismiss the lack of features in a device which had been developed for years as being first gen is giving Apple too much of the benefit of the doubt.

@A1by It has a compass and I think it has gps. During the keynote when sj goes to current location on the maps app there was a blue dot but not to sure. Also it has the same 30 pin connector that everything else uses.
@Mike You are free to leave if you don't like it here. But you'll be back just like sting7k.

@Macboy: There is assisted GPS in the Wifi+3G model. I'm wondering if you can buy the wifi+3G model and not activate the data plan will you still be able to use the GPS in there?

You guys are really digging deep to find justification for the iPad.
Lemme get this straight the only thing holding facebook back is a small screen? Isn't that true for every webpage? We give up a true web experience for mobility on phones... duh!
This genious wants me to buy an iPad so he can shove a crappy facebook app down my throat when I can just go to facebook on a similarly sized LAPTOP!

+100 on focusing TiPb back on the iPhone!!! I understand that Crackberry is probably Kevin's job but I'm TiPb could dig up some better article on the iPhone than what they do.
When I had a BB I enjoyed going onto Crackberry to read what was going on in the BB world. The forums are far and away better on CB also.
Not quite sure why I continue to come back to this site.

This guy makes no sense. Bashing the IPhone for its Apple policies, and hyping the iPad?! There is no difference between the two.
And if screensize was his biggest gripe with the iPhone, then he shouldn't have talked too much about other apple policies as the reason to jump off the ship.
all of this doesn't make any sense to me: if the iPhone sucked because of apples policies, than the iPad will suck for the EXACT same reason.
And the workaround with webapps can be realized on iPhone too, just take a look at google voice. So this is not an exclusive iPad workaround either.
He may be the iphone app facebook developer, but that doesn't mean that he always knows what he is talking about...

If in the 2008 announcement of the iPhone OS 2.0 (that is, the OS that introduced the app store), no apps had been demonstrated, there are only four types of people who would have been interested in the iPhone OS: 1) first generation iPhone users; 2) developers; 3) hackers; 4) people with an imagination.
It seems pretty apparent that while a lot of consumers are on the line (by one poll, about half are neutral), developers are very interested in the iPad. If this were not based on multitouch capacitative technology, the iPad wouldn't be as big a deal. But, it's the cheapest, largest multitouch touchscreen ever available, with a heavily patented UI, and the cheapest, most consumer-friendly 3G data plan ever available. And, one thing that Apple seems to be consistent about is that all of the apps you own can run simultaneously on the iPhone, Touch, and iPad. That means all the app notifications that appear on your iPhone can also appear on the iPad simultaneously.
I know no one will be convinced by some lines of text, but the iPad is more a secondary mobile device than a third or fourth computer device. Since I've had the iPhone, I rarely need to bring a computer with me when I travel. However, there are still things that come up that can't really be done on the iPhone, and the iPad fills that gap.
I find Hewitt's comments about client side freedom to be very interesting.

the sad fact is that the majority of the population is borderline retarded and does need someone to tell them what to do. Didn't Henry ford once say that if he gave the 'people' what they wanted, they would have gotten a faster horse? I'm paraphrasing a bit I'm sure but my point is that people tend to have no vision whatsoever and stick with what is safe and known until someone comes along and shows them the way.

@the real truth:
and if apple would have been active in henry fords times, they would have introduced a very pretty, shiny horse which can do less than a regular horse, since it will only run on predefined routes.

I cant wait till the ipad comes out, it's everything I've been hoping for aswell. All I needed was a humungous iPod touch.
Damn I can't sleep anymore, I NEED my ipad!!!!!!!

nice analogy though it does nothing to negate my point. How many computer makers will be coming out with something that looks like this in 6 mnths? How long till Microsoft releases their version? Face it apple has changed the game once again. Like it or not this is the computer of the future. Wait and see. The iPod was gonna fail. The iPhone didn't do this and that.....didn't seem to matter though, huh?

hey facebook/joe hewitt/whoever....why dont we concentrate on getting the freakin iphone app out of the gdam toilet before we start talkin ipad. jesus, i mean how sick is everyone of 3.1.2's bs?????

Remember, they were working hard to get the cost down on this thing. Apple is sitting on a mountain of cash. They just need to get this out, get a user base, and then all the extras which should be standard now will come in the 2nd and 3rd gen ipad just like the iPhone. I'm still impressed they have the base model so cheap.

@The real truth: "Like it or not this is the computer of the future."
This iPad that was demoed is not a replacement for a computer. It requires that you already have a computer (Mac or PC). It will sync to a computer just like the iPhone or iPod Touch. It IS an iPod touch with a big screen.
And that is good. The iPhone and the Touch are limited for many useful purposes by their tiny screens. There will be a ton of apps coming soon for the iPad. It will turn out to be much better suited for professional and business uses. All the other features are a bonus. It will replace tools that cost several times as much. It's amazing that most people don't get this, and instead are lambasting missing ports, camera, etc.