Moving away from App Store-focused development

A few things are happening at once that together are putting some clarity on the direction we should have for development:

  • Vincent has been working on the official Android app. It’s in public beta now on Google Play. This app is written in React Native, which uses JavaScript with native system controls.
  • Apple is burning through developer trust with the App Store. This is now mainstream opinion, not just a fringe of developers complaining. Apple’s policy in the Netherlands is the latest.
  • Frameworks for Apple platforms are fragmented. UIKit vs. SwiftUI vs. Mac Catalyst vs. AppKit. There are compromises with each path.

We are a small team, and maintaining so many different versions of our apps is difficult. On top of that, why invest so much time in Apple-only frameworks when Apple could upend our business with a new App Store tax or other disruptions?

Going forward, the tentative plan is to abandon most of the current iOS codebase for, instead sharing it predominantly with Android using React Native. This will free up development time to keep making the Mac version even more Mac-like, sticking with AppKit.

Mobile platforms like iOS and Android are much more similar to each other than either one is to the Mac. I love the Mac and don’t want to compromise the UI on macOS with a cross-platform framework. macOS also remains the only open Apple platform, so investing in it feels right.

What about our other companion apps for Sunlit and Wavelength will stay iOS-only using UIKit. Epilogue will move to React Native, simplifying the number of cross-platform frameworks we use to just one.

In summary, here’s how I see our apps looking after this multi-year transition:

  • for the web: Ruby. Built for the web, for any platform.
  • for iOS: React Native.
  • for Android: React Native.
  • for macOS: AppKit.
  • Sunlit for iOS: UIKit.
  • Wavelength for iOS: UIKit.
  • Epilogue for iOS: React Native.
  • Epilogue for Android: React Native.

The official apps for are a baseline. There should be a rich ecosystem of third-party apps that make other choices, going all-in on SwiftUI, Jetpack Compose, or whatever else helps developers build something new for

What makes the business side of work is that our goals as a company are aligned with our users’ goals. We make money when we provide features that make blogs better and the community experience better. Restructuring our development approach similarly aligns our priorities, moving just a little farther away from being dominated by Apple.

Manton Reece @manton