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Tim Cook: Apple Will Open iOS to More Third-Party Customization

Tim Cook: Apple Will Open iOS to More Third-Party Customization

Apple’s iOS platform has long been criticized for being extremely “closed,” meaning that developers aren’t able to offers users a high degree of third-party tweaks and customizations. Meanwhile, Google’s Android platform has taken the opposite approach, opening up their platform to practically any customization one could dream up – often at the cost of user experience or even security. According to Tim Cook, however, Apple’s legendary closed approach to iOS could be about to change.


Speaking Tuesday evening at the D11 conference, Cook was grilled over just how closed Apple’s software really is, especially in comparison to Android. In response, Cook made some comments that were more than a little bit surprising to many following the conference, stating that Apple is indeed planning on opening their platform to at least some degree.

Here’s a rough transcript of what he had to say on the topic, courtesy of The Verge (emphasis added):

I think you’ll see us open up more in the future, but not to the degree that we put the customer at risk of having a bad experience. So there’s always a fine line to walk there, or maybe not so fine. We think the customer pays us to make choices on their behalf. I’ve see some of these settings screens, and I don’t think that’s what customers want. Do some want it? Yes. But you’ll see us open up more.

It doesn’t really get much more direct than that. “You’ll see us open up more.” Of course, exactly what Apple will open to third-party developers, and to what extent, is still up for question. Given Apple’s traditional moderation in opening up services and APIs to developers, the change will likely come in small doses – after all, as Cook pointed out, such measures are not worth risking the user experience over. That’s been a key difference between Android and iOS from the very beginning.

So, what can we expect from Apple in terms of APIs and opening up more of their platform? At this point it’s unclear – but it’s a safe bet we’ll get a taste of what’s to come when Apple unveils the next major version of iOS at WWDC on June 10th. Personally, I can’t wait!