Dear Tim Cook: please let us use the programming tools of our choice on the iPad

This is a letter I sent to Tim Cook (Apple’s CEO ūüėČ a couple of months ago askim him to allow language interpreters, compilers and shared libraries on the iPad. I later sent him two more emails later.

I have not received a reply. I did not really expect any, but I hope that Apple top managers who are responsible for the iOS programming lockdown are at least aware of the (high) costs. Having millions of apps and millions of registered developers does not mean that all bases are covered. Far from it!

I am aware that many people have raised this issue before. We just need to keep asking. WWDC is around the corner: this would be the most wonderful surprise for all the iPad and programming enthusiasts!

Hi Tim,
I love my iPad and I use it for hours every day, mostly reading books, technical articles, news, social media, etc.
I also own a 12.9″ iPad Pro. That’s a beautiful machine, but it is a bit frustrating to me that I cannot program on it when programming is such a big part of my professional life.
There is an enormous ecosystem of free and open source software that make developing algorithms and generally tinkering with code and ideas delightful. Any Apple Machine Learning (for example) engineer will confirm this.
The restrictions on importing and compiling code on iOS, or on installing system-wide libraries, unfortunately make those open source packages impossible to use on my iPad.
There is some great open source software for iOS, but is mostly geared towards app development and it is a very small part of what’s out there.
What I would love to have as a scientist and a programmer is the option to install software outside the App Store, and the ability to use compilers and interpreters for any programming language of my choice. Basically the ability to do on our iPads what we do everyday on our Mac and Linux boxes.
My generation grew up with the Apple II, the Macintosh, the Commodore 64, the TRS-80, etc. Those machines were made for programming: there was literally nothing else I could do with my first computer.
If Steve Jobs’ analogy about PCs and trucks is correct, then young people with iPads and iPhones will no longer have the ability to tinker with code outside school or work. I hope you agree that it would be sad. So please open up the iPad to compilers, interpreters and shared libraries!
Thank you very much for your time and attention.

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