Apple is ruffling the feathers of many developers with the Mac App Store. According to the leaked rules on submitting applications to the store for approval, Apple mentions that any apps using deprecated technologies will be rejected. Unfortunately, as Apple released the Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 3 last night, they made the statement that Java is now deprecated on Mac OS X. This means Java developers will be unable to distribute their applications via the Mac App Store.
According to the Java update release notes for Developers, "As of the release of Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 3, the version of Java that is ported by Apple, and that ships with Mac OS X, is deprecated. This means that the Apple-produced runtime will not be maintained at the same level, and may be removed from future versions of Mac OS X. The Java runtime shipping in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, will continue to be supported and maintained through the standard support cycles of those products."
Java developers on the Mac have had a difficult time when developing apps that require newly released features in Java as Apple built and maintained the runtime environment port of Java. This meant that Java developers on the Mac wouldn't get the newly released features of the language until Apple decided to update the port, which in many cases took a while.
No one really knows what this means for the future of Java on the Mac. Developers can only hope that Oracle will step up and release an official port of Java along side the Windows and Linux versions.
Even though Apple has been making a push for Objective-C development in recent years, there are still very many Java developers creating applications on the Mac. And because a single Java application can be run on Mac, Windows, and Linux systems, virtually all schools and universities teach Java as one of first programming language students learn.
Apple has had it's ups and downs with technologies over the past year. Most notably was the spat with Adobe over Flash on the iPhone and on the Mac. Plus the news today that Apple is not shipping Flash plugins with the new MacBook Airs.
But why would Apple stop releasing updates for a decent and reliable development language on their platform? Android applications are written in Java. Because Apple is deprecating the port of Java, the language wouldn't get updated as often on the Mac. This would in turn leave Android developers turning to fully-Java supported Windows or Linux OSes to do their development work.
This may just happen if Apple refuses to continue releasing Java updates and if Oracle doesn't release an official port of Java for the Mac. If no one steps up to fill the Java void, then developers may be forced to move to other operating systems to continue developing Java applications, like Android apps.
It could be the case that Apple just doesn't have the time for feel the need to continue porting Java to its own platform. No matter which way you look at it, we will just have to wait and see how this issue pans out.
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