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I’ve never been very excited about the prospect of Xcode on iPad¹. I don’t think many people would get much done with it without attaching a hardware keyboard, and with one, it feels like the very best it could be would be a slightly worse version of using Xcode on a MacBook.

You may have to give me a minute to explain myself after reading what I’m about to speculate on, but is visionOS where we will see the first iOS-based version of Xcode? From everything we’ve seen of Apple’s new platform, it’s clear this is a project with a long-term vision, and I think a version of Xcode could make sense.

The biggest iPad screen is smaller than the smallest in a MacBook, but on Vision Pro, your “screen” can be larger than an XDR display. Multitasking on both iPad and Mac is limited compared to the possibilities introduced by having multiple windows floating in space around you. It’s not as newsworthy as dinosaurs stepping out from movie screens or butterflies landing on your finger, but these ideas are much more interesting to me.

Imagine having a main Xcode window in front of you with the file you’re working on, documentation open to your left with your git client above it, and maybe a couple of other source files open to your right. It’d be a very different way of working, but if the headset (or a future one) is comfortable enough to wear for longer periods, I can see this being compelling.

Deploying to devices would be interesting too. Hit ⌘+R on your physical keyboard that’s wirelessly connected to the headset that’s rendering your virtual Xcode windows, and pick up your iPhone from your desk to test the app that you wirelessly deployed to it. There’s a lot going on in that scenario, but it’s all within reach, both literally and metaphorically! You might even one day deploy a macOS app from Xcode on a visionOS device to a physical Mac for testing. That’s a wild thought.

Rather than scaling Xcode down to smaller devices, visionOS would let it expand, and that’s not possible on any other Apple platform. The Vision Pro and visionOS are a bet on a potential future, and there are a multitude of ways they could fail. However, the idea of a user interface like this gives me a glimpse of how it might succeed, and this helps explain why I am so excited about visionOS.


¹ Swift Playgrounds on iPad is a great app and deserves to exist. It has even grown into something that can produce full apps, but it’s not and isn’t intended to be Xcode.

Dave Verwer  

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iPad Software Engineer @ Liquid Instruments – Liquid Instruments is a startup creating a range of modern test and measurement devices using reconfigurable FPGA hardware. We're looking for someone to help develop the beautiful iPad user interface that drives it all. – On-site (Australia)

 

You know what I will write here by now, so I’ll just leave you this link. If your company is hiring, please click it. ❤️

 

And finally...

Do any of you have an old Apple Watch lying around? ⌚