Apple Removes Scratch from the App Store

This decision (via the Computing Education Blog) is entirely consistent with the recent changes to Apple’s developer license. Scratch is a learning programming language that I think of as the spiritual successor to Seymour Papert’s LOGO. The language and its programming environment are open source, developed by MIT. There is a thriving community around it and an annual learning event.

You ask me, this is simply a dick move, regardless of Apple’s grunting noises about a superior native experience. If anything deserves an exemption, and would actually work well on the iPad to boot, it is Scratch. Scratch’s programming environment is entirely graphical, I could see enjoying dragging the lego like blocks around to snap together a program on a large touch screen tablet. This is also a hell of a missed opportunity. Collaborating with Scratch’s creators to address any real technical issues at the heart of Apple’s license change wouldn’t have hurt it in the eyes of its staunchest critics even if it won’t necessarily win anyone over from the closed is bad camp.

What would it have cost them to try? And what the hell happened to the company that donated a metric ton of first generation G5 Macs to a university, even upgrading them to G5 Xserves later when those became available? Instead, I rather think this entrenches those of us deeply skeptical of Apple’s ever more frequent moves towards greater control.

5 Replies to “Apple Removes Scratch from the App Store”

  1. Not realizing that they already had an app, I was actually thinking the same thing — that Scratch would be a great development and learning tool on the iPad. The problem is that it’s written in Squeak, a variant of Smalltalk, and the Scratch application is a Squeak VM.

    Whatever the justification, it’s moronic.

  2. Agreed. Even if it’s collateral damage due to the application of their “use the tools we say you can use” policy, it’s still (or perhaps, especially) a dick move.

  3. This is truly tragic. To flog a dead metaphor: Walled Gardens are beautiful, until you wan to play Frisbee or rearrange the lawn furniture. The you risk running afoul of the Groundskeepers.

    I use Scratch to teach programming in a K-5 Montessori school. Scratch on the iPod Touch was a great way to encouraging these budding hackers. I think we are selling our future short. Dev apps would be a great way to bring up the next generation of coders.

  4. I just used your article as a counterpoint to google announcing App Inventor.
    http://appinventor.googlelabs.com/about/

    A somewhat serious difference in attitude, no? Writing crappy games and utilities on your own gear is a rite of passage for all aspiring geeks. I’ll be trying to get my wife to use this in somehow in her classroom ASAP.

    FWIW, your article was google hit #3 on a search for “Apple removes scratch app store”

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