What it is: Apple’s operating systems are fast becoming the new growth market for programmers.
Back in the old days, programmers flocked to Windows because that’s where the customers were. Because so many developers were created Windows programs, so many people chose to use Windows. As Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s former CEO once summarized the success of Windows, it was all about “developers, developers, developers.”
Nowadays, Windows is no longer the most popular programming environment. Today, mobile computing led by iOS is the most popular programming environment. However, there’s more to Apple than just iOS. First, if you learn to create apps for iOS, you can sell apps for the iPhone and iPad, which defend the smartphone and tablet markets respectively. If you want to create apps for the most popular and lucrative mobile computing markets, you want to create apps for iOS.
With the Apple Watch defining the wearable computer market, the next hot bed of programming will be developing apps for watchOS. Right now the Apple Watch needs to link up with an iPhone to run apps. Future versions of watchOS will allow native watchOS apps, which will give apps the power to access all the hardware sensors built-in to the Apple Watch. If you want to tap into the growing wearable computer market, you’ll need to write programs for watchOS.
Less visible but still representing another lucrative programming market is CarPlay, Apple’s way of competing car entertainment systems. Beyond just playing music or giving you directions, CarPlay offers the potential to create custom CarPlay apps to help drivers monitor miles for business purposes or calculate optimum travel direction for maximum fuel efficiency. Since CarPlay can’t rely as much on touch screen interfaces with drivers forced to keep their eyes on the road, you can expect CarPlay to rely heavily on voice-activated user interfaces through Siri, and possible Force Touch for the touch screen to give you haptic feedback when pressing a flat piece of glass.
One critical flaw with today’s touch screen interfaces is that you can’t tell what part of a screen you’re touching without taking your eyes off the road to look. With Force Touch and CarPlay, you’ll be able to touch a flat screen and feel the different commands to choose them in much the same way you can touch old fashion car radio controls without needing to look at them. The combination of voice commands and Force Touch creates a new user interface for CarPlay apps that rely on sound and touch.
With Apple promising to release Apple TV, another programming field is creating Apple TV apps. These apps will likely turn the Apple TV into a video game console, but could also be used to program and record TV shows and help you find the shows you want to see without forcing you to manually scan a listing of shows yourself. Apple TV, combined with Apple’s HomeKit can automate a home with lights, locks, and temperature control.
Of course to create any type of apps, you need a Macintosh. With more people buying and using a Macintosh, there’s still a growing market for Macintosh programs. While the rest of the PC industry steadily contracts, sales of the Macintosh buck the trend and keep growing. That means more people will want a Macintosh program.
So the future environment for an Apple programmer looks like this:
- iOS to program the iPhone and iPad
- watchOS to program the Apple Watch
- iOS to program CarPlay and Apple TV
- OS X to program the Macintosh
That can be four major markets for programmers to target that includes the fast growing mobile computer market (iPhone and iPad), wearable computer market (Apple Watch), home and car automation market (CarPlay and Apple TV), and the PC market (Macintosh). In comparison, writing programs for Windows will lock you into the declining PC market and leave you completely out of the mobile and wearable computer market, not to mention the car and home automation market.
Given a choice between targeting multiple markets by focusing on Apple or ignoring Apple and choosing far fewer lucrative opportunities for the future, it’s easy to see where the greatest potential lies. The future lies with Apple just like the future used to lie with Microsoft. It’s the changing of the guard whether you like it or not. You can fight the trend or you can go along with it and profit handsomely from it. The choice is yours.