TUIO is a simple but powerful emerging protocol for multitouch control for live music and visuals, as used on the powerful live tangible synth reacTable. Apparently no one told Apple, however. While the App Store rubber-stamps useless toys like fake cigarette lighter flames, they bizarrely rejected a powerful application by a leading digital artist that would enable standardized TUIO control – for free. (More back story below; see an example in action above.)
As a blogger, my reaction is usually to whine and pontificate, for better or worse. The engineering approach would be to find some hack away the problem. That’s what Andrew Turley did with the TUIO protocol. So, Apple won’t allow an app that does the trick? Why not go back to what developers did before the SDK, and just use the iPhone browser?
As Andrew explains it:
After reading the story I started thinking about seeing how far one could push Safari as an application platform, using web apps to get around Apple’s tight control of the app store. Since you would be connecting to another computer anyway to use an OSC application, why not just have the app be a web app running on a web server somewhere on the local network? The web server can then take care of things like sending out OSC messages or playing music or doing whatever it is people want to do.
To that end I created a little system that implements the TUIO protocol. You use an iPhone to run a web app, which in turn talks to the web server, which in turn sends OSC messages.
touchy feely [Pillowsopher Blog]
Needless to say, there are some downsides: you have to run the Python server, you’re more limited in input and control than you would be in a real app, and you’re stuck inside the Safari browser, which could be a bit inconvenient. So I’m not backing down from my original complaint – I don’t see Apple doing anyone a service by blocking this kind of app, and the only rational explanation seems to be that the folks doing the review process don’t understand what the app is.
Most importantly, I do know that all our griping was sent to Apple, so I’m hopeful the App Store will reconsider the decision once they get it.
But I love solutions, too, and this can be one for many applications.
It also illustrates an important point: the browser on mobile devices (Apple and otherwise) could be a powerful outlet. It doesn’t always make sense to build an entire application; there will be various cases in which a little browser tool will do a job. Need a quick remote control for a live performance / art installation / club lighting rig? You might try the easy solution with the browser first.
Thanks for the great hack, Andy, and I’m curious to hear if anyone uses or extends this.